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US private lunar lander launched to Moon


LOS ANGELES | Xinhua | American company Intuitive Machines’ first lunar lander was launched into space early Thursday morning, with an aim of achieving the first Moon landing of a U.S. spacecraft in five decades.

The mission, codenamed IM-1, is Intuitive Machines’ first robotic flight to the Moon’s surface. The lander, carrying NASA scientific and other commercial payloads to the Moon, was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

About one hour after the launch, NASA confirmed the lander had separated from the rocket and was continuing its trip to the Moon.

The lander is scheduled to land at crater Malapert A near the south pole of the Moon.

The scientific objectives of the mission include studies of plume-surface interactions, radio astronomy, and space weather interactions with the lunar surface. It will also be demonstrating precision landing technologies and communication and navigation node capabilities, according to NASA.

NASA is working with several U.S. companies to deliver science and technology to the lunar surface through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. ■

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