Odysseus’ Long, Long Journey
Both Odysseus and Odie

It is interesting how missions into outer space acquire their names. The spacecraft Odysseus landed near the south pole of the Moon on February 22. The naming rights were derived from Homer’s poem, Odyssey. According to legend, Odysseus was the king of the island of Ithaca. Little is known about the actual Odysseus, but Homer paints a picture of him as an extremely wise, courageous, and determined person.

Homer’s Odyssey is a long poetic tale about Odysseus’ adventures attempting to return home and recover his kingdom. He faced a litany of obstacles, starting with the Trojan War, which took a decade. However, for another decade, Odysseus faced additional problems related to the Lotus-Eaters, the Cyclops, the cannibals of Laistrygones, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and the nymph Calypso.

Odysseus finally rejected Calypso’s deal to give him immortality if he stayed with her. When Odysseus manages to return home, Penelope doesn’t recognize her husband, who has been away for two decades. Only Odysseus’ dog accepted him home. After testing Odysseus, Penelope realizes that he is Odysseus. He finally returned to his home. Thus, he became an archetypal figure of bravery and determination.

That is the backstory for naming the spacecraft Odysseus. That spacecraft journeyed over 620,000 miles to reach its new home near the south pole of the Moon. This is the first photo from Odysseus on its way to its home on the Moon.

Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines

This is what the 21st-century version of Odysseus looks like.


Odie is the nickname for the lunar lander Odysseus. It might have been an easier name to spell than Odysseus. Odie landed near the south pole of the Moon. Due to its location, a great deal of water is frozen under the surface.

This is Odie nearing its home.

Before landing

Before landing

This is Odie’s trajectory before landing.

This is Odie’s home.

This is Odie’s home.

Finally, the lunar lander touched down. However, it was silent. After a long delay, the scientists on Earth were able to communicate with Odie. However, it flipped over while it touched down. Some speculate that it stumbled over one of its landing pads.

The lunar lander’s name, Odysseus, reflected Homer’s poem about Odysseus’s long journey to return to his home. After Odie’s misstep on the Moon, it became a far more appropriate name for the lunar lander. Both Odysseus and Odie have faced setbacks in getting to their homes.

Here are several videos about Odysseus’s landing on the lunar surface.

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