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MSU plans lunar landing watch party, prepares as a primary ground station for the mission

Kennealy Jenkins

Morehead State University is planning to celebrate a successful lunar mission landing with a watch party. The mission was supported by MSU faculty and students in the Space Science Engineering program. The Nova-C lunar lander named Odysseus is set to touch down February 22 at 5:49 p.m.

MSU’s Space Science Center serves as a primary ground station for the Lunar Data Network. Executive Director Dr. Ben Malphrus said they provide multiple services in that role.

“We issue up commands from their control center through our dish. We pull down data and telemetry for them. And we do a thing called tracking, which means that we send out a signal, the spacecraft transponds the signal, sends it back, and we measure the time delay,” said Malphrus.

This is projected to be the first successful moon landing of a private company. Malphrus added that the lander carries several different pieces of equipment with various goals.

“It carries, actually, 12 payloads. Six NASA payloads and six commercial payloads, and they range from science payloads trying to understand the environment of the moon and advance of NASA’s human return to the moon, to technology demonstrations,” said Malphrus.

Malphrus said MSU faculty and students are very excited to see the unit land, as they have been tracking its progress since day one. Officials said information gathered will help blueprint exploration of the solar system and build a lunar economy.

MSU faculty, staff, students, and the community are invited to attend the watch party at the Space Science Center. Doors open at 4 p.m. Thursday.