US makes its first moon landing in over 50 years

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STORY: Cheers erupted in Houston's mission control after the first American moon landing in more than half a century on Thursday.

And it was done by a private sector spacecraft, the first ever to touch the lunar surface.

The uncrewed, six-legged lander named Odysseus was developed by Intuitive Machines, a company based in Texas.

“What we can confirm without a doubt is our equipment is on the surface of the moon and we are transmitting. So congratulations. IM team. We'll see how much more we can get from that.”

Odysseus' landing came after a nail-biting final approach and descent, and there was a problem with the spacecraft's autonomous navigation system.

Engineers had to deploy an untested work-around at the 11th hour.

Then, there was a radio blackout - which was anticipated - and it took time for mission control to re-establish contact.

When communications did come back, the signal was faint, but it confirmed that Odysseus had touched down.

Still, NASA and the company said it left mission control uncertain as to its precise condition and position.

The spacecraft was not designed to provide live video of the event.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called the historic feat 'a triumph.'

"Odysseus has taken the moon. This feat is a giant leap forward for all of humanity."

It took around a week for Odysseus to reach the moon after launching from Earth on a rocket from Elon Musk's company SpaceX.

The lander carries an array of scientific instruments and technology demonstrations for NASA

and several commercial customers.

It's designed to operate for seven days on solar energy before the sun sets over the south pole landing site.

NASA says the data collected will help it prepare to return astronauts to the moon later this decade, as part of a long-term, sustained initiative of lunar exploration and a stepping stone toward eventual human flights to Mars.