Trash on the Moon

There have been several attempts by different countries recently to land on the Moon, some more successful than others. The other day, a private US company, Intuitive Machines, landed their equipment on the Moon and it was a solid C effort. The device continued to transmit for a couple of days after landing, but because it landed on its side, wasn’t able to complete its full ten day mission.

This was later revealed to be due to the failure to install a pencil-sized pin and a wire harness that enabled the [altimetry range finder] laser to be turned on and off. As a result, the company scrambled to rewrite its software to take advantage of three telescopes on a NASA payload, the Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing, for altimetry purposes. […] Unfortunately, as it neared the lunar surface, the lander believed it was about 100 meters higher relative to the Moon than it actually was. So instead of touching down with a vertical velocity of just 1 meter per second and no lateral movement, Odysseus was coming down three times faster and with a lateral speed of 2 meters per second.

Ars Technica

It turns out that the company had chosen not to test their range-finder, on the premise that such would be too expensive. Is this indicative of an engineering company without engineers on the board? Or perhaps on the board, but without enough power to ensure quality? Whatever the case, I sure hope Intuitive Machines gets the gospel of unit and composit testing before they try to haul humans anywhere.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *