Intuitive Machines’ stock fell more than 30% after hours Friday after the space-exploration company said that its Odysseus lunar lander had fallen on its side while landing near the moon’s south pole, hampering its communications with Earth.

Intuitive Machines

Chief Executive Steve Altemus said Friday that Odysseus “caught a foot in the surface [of the moon] and tipped” on its side while touching down on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

While the spacecraft still has “quite a bit of operational capability,” Altemus said some of its antennas were pointed toward the moon’s surface, limiting its ability to communicate with flight controllers and transmit data. He said the lander may have broken one of its six legs after descending too fast, and was now possibly leaning against a rock.

The news sent Houston-based Intuitive Machines’ shares down 31.7% after hours, after they had gained 15.8% in regular trading Friday on the back of Odysseus’ landing. The company had initially said that the spacecraft was upright Thursday when it became the first commercial lander to successfully reach the moon, though the extent of that success could now be in doubt given the mission’s complications.

Odysseus — also the first American spacecraft to reach the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 — is carrying science and technology instruments on behalf of NASA. The space agency is sponsoring and supporting the mission, which launched on Feb. 15, as it seeks to return astronauts to the moon as soon as 2026 via its Artemis program.

Other commercial attempts at moon landings have also faced problems in recent years. In 2019, Israel’s Beresheet attempted to become the first private lander on the lunar surface, but crashed during its landing attempt. Four years later, Japan’s private Hakuto-R mission also failed to achieve a “soft landing” on the moon.

Last month, private U.S.-based space company Astrobotic Technology ended its troubled mission to place its Peregrine lander on the moon.

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