back to article Odysseus probe moonwalking on the edge of battery life after landing on its side

Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lunar lander is facing another countdown. This time the question is how much longer it can continue to operate until it exhausts what remains of the battery life. On Monday, flight controllers reckoned they had until Tuesday morning before communication with the lander ceased. At the time of …

  1. martinusher Silver badge

    Failure is an option

    Given the nature of these missions its got to be assumed that a perfect landing in exactly the right spot is going to be an outlier, something that's worth working towards and trying for but unlikely to happen. The design should accommodate this. It will mean that its going to have redundant payload (Murphy's Law being what it is, once you design the thing on the assumption that it could tip over it will always land upright) but that's the obstreperous nature of machines.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Failure is an option

      The design should accommodate this.

      Moon Weebles?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Failure is an option

        "Moon Weebles?"

        Easier than that .... external airbags that inflate slowly, at low pressure, to right the lander.

        Don't have to be very bulky/heavy and the inflation gas is in a small canister.

        Once righted the airbag can be released to no-longer obstruct the instuments etc.

        :)

        Copyright (c) El Reg Solutions.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Failure is an option

          "Once righted the airbag can be released to no-longer obstruct the instuments etc."

          You expect it to blow away in the wind?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Failure is an option

            "You expect it to blow away in the wind?"

            No ... but ... now you mention 'wind' .... use the same gas canister to 'eject' the airbags !!!

            Small amount of gas would push the airbags some distance away.

            [Low gravity & no wind resistance]

            :)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Failure is an option

              [Missed edit window]

              Even without the 'wind' solution the airbags would be at the level of the landers feet/legs, once released, and easy to push out of the way !!!

              The airbags are *not* make out of kevlar or something silly as they have one use if needed and only need to be a foil type material which will not puncture or rip !!!

              :)

              1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
                Holmes

                Re: Failure is an option

                Or make them intentionally permeable/leaky. Inflate at quicker than leakage, then stop and let them deflate on their own.

                1. that one in the corner Silver badge

                  Re: Failure is an option

                  Just seal the balloon's feed tube (automatic cable/jubilee clip) and cut it on the balloon's side (sharpen the clip on that side).

                  The balloon will then (literally) rocket away, spinning merrily.

                  "In Space, no-one can hear you making whoopee cushion noises"

          2. Julz

            Just

            Make them reflective on one side and black on the other. Let the Sun do the work.

        2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: Failure is an option

          Just remember RobotWars - lots of self righting mechanisms there - some even worked!

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Failure is an option

            Should Moon-rovers also be fitted with circular saw blades?

            1. collinsl Bronze badge

              Re: Failure is an option

              Personally I think they should all carry a clone of Razer since it seemed to be almost indestructible and the crushing power would be useful to deal with clangers

          2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

            Re: Failure is an option

            The success of all lunar exploration missions should be judged on style, control, damage and aggression.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Failure is an option

      Yes, failure is an option. Space is not just hard, it's unforgiving. And humans are only human, we make mistakes.

      This was mostly a win, though. Science is being done, and we'll soon know more about that corner of the Moon than we do today.

      The only issue is the vanity art project ... Shirley the mass of that could have been better spent in installing a heat source to allow the machine to survive the lunar night, so it could continue doing science for more than a week or so. (NASA spent how much on a lander that could only survive 2 weeks? Sounds daft to me!)

      I think it's quite fitting that it fell over on the "art" side. Luna has spoken. Stick with science, no more so-called "art".

      Can you imagine if that hack Warhol (or Max) had been allowed to paint his trash on the side of Apollo? ::shudder::

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Failure is an option

        To be fair the space part went great, it was the being on the big rock part that went a bit oopsy.

        Big Rock Science is obviously harder than Rocket Science

        1. Spherical Cow Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Failure is an option

          The problem happened before it even got to the space part. During the still-on-earth part someone really muffed it and forgot to un-disable the landing thingy.

          Icon: I used a lot of technical terms.

  2. beast666

    Epic Fail

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      We think fondly of those little Martian gizmos because they have massively surpassed their design goals, but every cute little rover and helicopter gets their glory not just because of the longevity of the mission, but also (and largely) because they succeeded where others left craters and wreckage.

      This one made it there intact and is communicating with the mothership while sitting on the lunar surface. However you slice it, that's a win.

      If you think you can do better, go ahead, but people far smarter than me have summed it up in three words: Space is hard.

    2. jake Silver badge

      "Epic Fail"

      Hardly.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        This and the Japanese effort are both amazing achievements to have made a soft landing close to a pre-determined target location at such a distance.

        Even though the orientation was wrong.

        Neither as good as the Indian one though.

    3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Alien

      > "Epic Fail"

      No, just Epic

  3. Timfy67
    Mushroom

    Time to call Sigourney?

    "...the lander has "efficiently sent payload science data and imagery in furtherance of the Company's mission objectives.""

    Does anyone else get a whiff of the Weyland-Yutani Corp from that statement?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Time to call Sigourney?

      The Bio-Weapons division are very happy with the results and are sending a collection team to the site to bring back a sample to our research labs on Earth.

      I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Time to call Sigourney?

        Weaponized tardigrades anybody?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Time to call Sigourney?

          You leave them alone, or they'll set their big brother on you!

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