Intuitive Machines’ moon lander tumbled onto its side, taking stock shares down with it

Intuitive Machines' moon lander tumbled onto its side, taking stock shares down with it

Intuitive Machines, a Texas-based company, achieved a significant milestone last Thursday by successfully landing its spacecraft, named Odysseus, on the moon. This marked a historic moment as the first private company to accomplish such a feat. However, despite the successful landing, shares of Intuitive Machines experienced a drastic drop after news emerged that the lander had tipped over upon reaching the lunar surface.

Prior to the launch of Odysseus on February 15, Intuitive Machines’ stocks had nearly doubled in value, reflecting the anticipation surrounding the mission. However, following reports of the lander tipping over, the company’s stock price plummeted by 30% during a late-day sell-off.

Despite the setback, Intuitive Machines assured that Odysseus was operational, with engineers actively sending commands to the vehicle. NASA officials also commended the company’s efforts during a subsequent press conference.

The successful touchdown of Odysseus near Malapert A in the South Pole region of the moon marked a significant achievement for American space exploration, being the first American spacecraft to land on the moon in over 50 years. However, shortly after touchdown, the signal from the equipment was temporarily lost before eventually being restored.

Intuitive Machines CEO, Stephen Altemus, explained that the lander had caught one of its landing feet on the lunar surface during descent, causing it to tip over and come to rest on its side. Despite this, Altemus confirmed that most of the payloads onboard Odysseus were positioned upright and were expected to carry out their scientific objectives.

Although the successful mission initially drove Intuitive Machines’ stock market value close to $1 billion, it’s noted that only a small portion of shares are available for trading due to majority ownership by insiders and major investors. Nonetheless, the mission has sparked optimism among investors in fellow space startups, with shares of companies like Astra Space and Satellogic experiencing increases.

Odysseus, carried by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, had been transmitting flight data and lunar images to Intuitive Machines’ mission control center in Houston while orbiting the moon. NASA highlighted the significance of the instruments onboard Odysseus in advancing scientific research and paving the way for future Artemis astronaut missions.