U.S. Moon Landing: How to Watch and What to Know

On Wednesday morning, a robotic lunar lander launched by a Houston company got closer to reaching the moon.

The company, Intuitive Machines, announced that its Odysseus spacecraft had fired its engine for six minutes and 48 seconds, slowing it enough to be pulled by the moon’s gravity into a circular orbit 57 miles above the surface.

On Thursday, it is scheduled to touch down on the moon. If all goes well, it will become the first private spacecraft ever to make a soft landing there and the first American mission to arrive there since Apollo 17 in 1972.

When is the landing and how can I watch it?

Odysseus is expected to land on the lunar surface at 5:49 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday. Although it is a private mission, the main customer is NASA, which paid $118 million for the delivery of six instruments to the moon. NASA TV will stream coverage of the landing beginning at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday.

Where is the spacecraft going to land?

Odysseus is aiming for a spot in the south polar region, a flat plain outside the Malapert A crater. (Malapert A is a satellite crater of the larger Malapert crater, which is named after Charles Malapert, a 17th-century Belgian astronomer.)

The landing site is about 185 miles from the moon’s south pole.

Some of those craters in that region remain in perpetual shadow, and are a particular area of interest because water ice has been detected in them. Previous American moon missions have landed in the equatorial regions.

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