San Diego Mesa College alumnus Mario Romero makes history part of Odysseus lunar landing crew

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — A former student of San Diego Mesa College has made history as part of the team that just recently successfully landed a privately owned spacecraft on the moon, the college announced.

Mario Romero, an alumnus of San Diego Mesa College, is part of the team from Intuitive Machines whose uncrewed lander made history Thursday as the first privately owned spacecraft to touch down on the lunar surface.

Not only was Romero part of the team, he named the spacecraft after winning a contest among coworkers.

Odysseus, an unmanned moon lander designed by Houston-based company Intuitive Machines, successfully landed on the moon Thursday, Feb. 22 at 3:23 p.m. PT, delivering six experiments for NASA.

After four years of preparations, the company’s 14-foot Nova-C lander navigated to a spot near the moon’s South Pole.

FILE – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying Intuitive Machines’ lunar lander, lifts off from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. Intuitive Machines reported Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, that it’s communicating with its lander, Odysseus, and sending commands to acquire science data. But it noted: “We continue to learn more about the vehicle’s specific information” regarding location, overall health and positioning. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Romero attended San Diego Mesa College from 2013 to 2015 as an Astronomy/Astrophysics major. While at Mesa, he helped form the Student Veteran Organization (SVO) and advocated for an on-campus Veteran Resource Center. He also worked to help homeless and food insecure veterans and children.

He then transferred and graduated from Columbia with a Bachelors in Pure Mathematics and a Master’s Degree from U.H. Clearlake in Systems Engineering.

Romero is now an Assembly, Integration, and Test Engineer for Intuitive Machines.

“This journey takes much longer due to the many challenges, setbacks and delays,” Romero said in Intuitive Machines’ press release for the mission. “Traveling the daunting, wine-dark sea repeatedly tests his mettle, yet ultimately, Odysseus proves worthy and sticks the landing back home after 10 years.”

Notably, Romero chose the name for the project “Odysseus” after winning a contest against other Intuitive Machines employees. He commented in the release “the travels of the hero of the ancient Greek epic poem ‘Odyssey’ provided an apt analogy for the lunar mission.”

Word came just a day after its historic landing on the moon that the Odysseus lander has tipped over and is now on its side. However, the lander appears to be “alive and well,” according to an update on the company’s website.

Odysseus launched last week from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Only five countries have successfully landed on the moon. This moon landing was the first time the U.S. has touched down on the moon since Apollo 17 landed in 1972.

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