Odysseus lunar lander update: NASA, Intuitive Machines space experiment lands tilted on the moon

Watch the live conference replay of NASA and Intuitive Machines' news conference below:

Odysseus – NASA and Intuitive Machines' lunar lander – has transmitted its first images back to Earth from the lunar surface, confirming that it did land on the moon, but also showing that it landed tilted, officials revealed Wednesday.

The mission marks the first time Americans have returned to the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in the 1970s, and the first commercial landing part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. It's also a precursor to the planned Artemis II and Artemis III missions, which seek to send astronauts around the moon (Artemis II) and eventually on the moon (Artemis III).

Artemis II is slated for 2025 and Artemis III is slated for 2016.

Some 350 megabits of data has been sent from space to Earth – and downloaded, NASA officials said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference. You can watch a replay of that press conference in the video player above.

What to know about Odyssey moon lander mission

The IM-1 mission launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 15 and successfully landed on the moon on Feb. 22.

It signified the United States' first return to soft landing on the moon after a hiatus spanning more than five decades.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch pad LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center with the Intuitive Machines' Nova-C moon lander mission, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on February 15, 2024. The IM-1 mission is part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to understand more about the Moon's surface ahead of the coming Artemis missions. Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lander would be the first US spacecraft to land on the moon in over 50 years. It is expected to land near the south pole of the moon on February 22. (Photo by Gregg Newton / AFP) (Photo by GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images)

The objective of the IM-1 mission was to place a lander, called Odysseus, near the South Pole region of the moon for the scientific study of plume-surface interactions, radio astronomy, and space weather interactions with the lunar surface. 

Additionally, it was to demonstrate precision landing technologies and communication and navigation node capabilities, officials said.

Odysseus is a hexagonal cylinder that is 4.0 meters tall and 1.57 meters wide, on six landing legs with a launch mass of 1908 kg. It has the capability to carry approximately 100 kg of payload to the surface.

First look: New pictures show Odysseus lunar lander on the moon

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This image is the same as the one above, but without the arrow. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image of the Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander, called Odysseus, on the Moon’s surface on Feb. 24, 2024, at 12:57 pm CST). The image is 3,192 feet (973 meters) wide, and lunar north is up. (LROC NAC frame M1463440322L) NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

NASA's selection of IM-1 came about through the agency's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program and Artemis campaign, a venture where NASA teams up with commercial firms such as Intuitive Machines to oversee launch and lander operations.