NASA's historic moon mission ending early as lander loses power, ability to communicate

NASA’s mission to the moon ended on Tuesday. The lander is running out of power, so communication from the moon to Earth won’t be possible. 

On X, Intuitive Machines has posted mission status updates since liftoff at Kennedy Space Center. On Tuesday morning, the private space company wrote they would lose their ability to communicate with the lander in 10 to 20 hours. The lander fell over and got stuck when it landed on the moon last week. This means many science payloads on board couldn't fulfill their mission. 

"We didn’t get all our little instruments on the moon," said David Denault, a space expert who hosts the podcast About Space Today. 

Denault says the six science payloads on the lunar lander couldn’t study the moon like they were supposed to.

"If we would have landed perfectly there, today would be an exciting day because we’d have these little robots and all the experiments starting to really take place, so that’s the disappointment," he added. 

The lander landed on its side, ending the $118 million mission NASA contracted with Intuitive Machines. 


"That little tip over has forced the cancelation of today’s mission, sadly to say," said Denault. 

Still, the lander was able to send back several pictures from its short time on the moon's surface. 

"It didn’t go perfectly, but we do know that it’s safe and always, it’s a learning experience," said Madhur Tiwari, who helped build one of the payloads on the lander. 

Tiwari is an aerospace engineering professor at Florida Tech who helped build the eagle eye camera on the lander as a grad student at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University. 

"It was super exciting for us that it got there safely. It’s not perfect, but no – we are not disappointed whatsoever," said Tiwari. 

Even with the mission ending early, he says it’s a huge milestone to make it back to the moon. Every mission puts NASA one step closer to seeing humans walk on the moon again. 

On Tuesday afternoon, NASA released new information saying they'll brief the public on what science data they could gather with the mission ending early. FOX 35 will have updates at the press briefing Wednesday at 2 p.m.