Jeff Koons’s ‘Moon Phases’ Sculptures Remain on Lunar Lander Facing Power Loss Risk

Over a hundred sculptures by Jeff Koons still inhabit the Nova C (Odysseus) lunar lander, which faces the imminent possibility of losing power and communication with mission control engineers.

Nova C touched down on the lunar surface sideways late last week, a result of technical issues according to Intuitive Machines, the company overseeing the mission.

The unsuccessful landing on February 22 occurred due to the failure of the lander’s rangefinder lasers, which were unable to guide the descent because of engaged safety switches, as reported by the New York Times. These switches require manual disengagement. Additionally, other calculation errors affected the trajectory, complicating the landing process.

The tilted landing position has resulted in misaligned solar panels and communication antennas on Odysseus, hindering communication and reducing power supply.

During a recent briefing, Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus explained that the only cargo located on the downward-facing side of Odysseus consists of Koons’s “Moon Phases” sculptures. These 125 one-inch miniature Moons represent different lunar phases and are dedicated to significant historical figures such as Mozart, Cleopatra, and Leonardo da Vinci. The sculptures are associated with a collection of NFTs available through Pace Verso, the gallery’s Web3 platform.

Originally scheduled for a lunar journey in July 2022, the “Moon Phases” sculptures were eventually launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on February 14, alongside Odysseus.

Despite the challenges, Odysseus signifies the first successful US moon landing since 1972 and the maiden lunar landing achieved by a privately built and operated spacecraft, as reported by Reuters.