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Business News/ Science / Mission moon: Two US private companies aim for commercial landings, following India and China's success
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Mission moon: Two US private companies aim for commercial landings, following India and China's success

Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines, supported by NASA, are preparing to make commercial moon landings. Japan is now attempting to become the fifth country to land on the moon

US private companies Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines are set to make commercial moon landingsPremium
US private companies Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines are set to make commercial moon landings

Two US private companies supported by NASA are in the league to make commercial moon landings soon after over five decades of the Apollo program. This measure comes after India and China made successful moon landings while Russia, Japan, and Israel failed in their attempts. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “They’re scouts going to the moon ahead of us." 

Also read: Building a space station, sending humans to moon: Here is a look at ISRO's roadmap for 2047

The US company, Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology, is headed for its first lift-off of a lander aboard the rocket, United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan, which will take place on January 8. Another US company, Houston's Intuitive Machines with SpaceX is planning for a launch in mid-February.

Also read: What after Chandrayaan-3? Economic activity on Moon, says ISRO chief while revealing India’s roadmap till 2047

The Japanese Space Agency’s lander that had a lift-off in September will attempt to land on the moon in two weeks. It has two toy-size rovers with an X-ray telescope that has since been orbiting the Earth. By making a successful landing, Japan will become the fifth country in the world to land on the moon. Russia and US made a successful landing in the 1960s and 70s while China landed three times in the last ten years including the moon’s far side and is planning for another attempt later this year. India made a successful landing in 2023 but the US is the only country That has put astronauts on the moon.

Also read: Interest in moon not over yet! What next for ISRO after successful Chandrayaan-3 mission? Somanath reveals THIS

If successful, Japan will become the fifth country to pull off a lunar landing. Russia and the U.S. did it repeatedly in the 1960s and 70s. China has landed three times in the past decade — including on the moon’s far side — and is returning to the far side later this year to bring back lunar samples. And just last summer, India did it. Only the U.S. has put astronauts on the moon.

Also read: NASA's Juno spacecraft captures Jupiter's moon Io as it makes closest-ever approach

Last year, a Japanese space lander crashed onto the moon in April and Russia’s lander crashed in August. India's Chandrayaan 2 successfully landed on the moon in August after failing in its first attempt in 2019. Israeli's attempt in 2019 to land on the moon's surface resulted in a crash.

Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines vied for rights as the first private entity to land on the moon. Intuitive Machines should land within a week of lift-off as it has a faster and more direct shot, despite its later start. Astrobotic will take a month in lunar orbit and two weeks to land on the moon. Astrobotic will attempt its landing on February 23.

Also read: India’s first astronaut on Moon by...: ISRO chief Somanath unveils space plans post Chandrayaan-3

Astrobotic’s chief executive John Thornton said, “It’s going to be a wild, wild ride," reported AP. Intuitive Machines's Steve Altemus said the space race is "more about the geopolitics, where China is going, where the rest of the world’s going." That said, “We sure would like to be first."

(With inputs from AP)

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Published: 05 Jan 2024, 07:20 AM IST
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