A follow-up on my critique of the IM-1 Moon mission’s narrative

A dramatic view of the Odysseus lunar lander still firing its main engine after making contact with the Moon. Image: Intuitive Machines

In Moon Monday #166, I wrote how Intuitive Machines and NASA skewed the success criteria of the former’s first Moon landing mission. I did not think the article would be taken as well as it was:

Celestial Citizen, in their latest Continuum newsletter:

While a private endeavor like Intuitive Machines may not have the same transparency obligations that a government agency does, shouldn’t they still be honest about their weak points in addition to their triumphs? Fellow space writer Jatan Mehta perfectly summarizes these questions in his newsletter, Jatan’s Space, with “why is it not enough to celebrate the genuine feats Intuitive Machines did achieve?” Is partial success not enough (to America)? 

The Orbital Index (a Moon Monday sponsor) in Issue #259:

Jatan has a well-articulated piece on his discomfort with NASA and Intuitive Machines calling IM-1 an “unqualified success,” especially given that LRO spotted its landing location 1.5 km from its original target and the limited data that was able to be downlinked from its payloads. It is a success, certainly, but perhaps with some qualifications.

Science Writer and Editor Mukunth, in his blog post To the Moon – or the stock market?:

Even if Intuitive Machines isn't implicitly required to follow NASA's communications policies, NASA needs to ensure the companies it contracts to fly its payloads – to ease its own path to the moon in future – do. As Jatan also pointed out, the onus to communicate lies with NASA: CLPS is publicly funded and without it missions like Odysseus wouldn't happen. We need explicit policies to streamline these companies' communications expectations to follow NASA's rather than their share prices.

I’ll be honest. I was surprised by the uptake, especially because at the time of writing my article, most publishers and public reactions I had come across were on nothing but a blanket hail spree.

In any case, I laid out quite a few specific questions in my article. They remain unanswered, and so if you have an informed perspective that my global audience can benefit from, do reach out. Even if you write a public rebuttal on your site, and I encourage that, I’m happy to link to it on my Moon Monday newsletter in the interest of the public conversation. Ultimately, I believe rooting for the Moon does not mean being only a cheerleader.

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