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February 23, 2024


San Diego Mesa College Alumnus Mario Romero, member of Odysseus Lunar Landing crew makes history

First privately owned spacecraft to touch down on the moon

By Jennifer N. Kearns

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San Diego Mesa College Alumnus Mario Romero made history as part of a team from Intuitive Machines’ whose uncrewed lander made history Thursday as the first privately owned spacecraft to touch down on the lunar surface. It was also the first U.S. vehicle to accomplish this in more than 50 years. After four years of preparations, the company’s 14-foot-tall Nova-C lander navigated to a spot near the moon’s South Pole. It was the 24th mission to softly land on the moon since 1966. And with it comes a new era of exploration. 

“This journey takes much longer due to the many challenges, setbacks and delays,” Mr. Romero said in Intuitive Machines’ press kit 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.”

Mario attending Mesa from 2013 until 2015 as an Astronomy/Astrophysics major, where he started his journey in higher education by taking Astronomy 101 and Math 36. While at Mesa, he helped form the Student Veteran Organization (SVO) and advocated for an on-campus Veteran Resource Center. While at Mesa, Mario also dedicated his time to helping homeless and food insecure veterans and children, and in 2015, was awarded the ABC10 News Salute to Heroes Award for San Diego veterans. Additionally, in 2015, Mario was part of a Mesa College student delegation that visited Washington D.C. to advocate for student veterans and other issues.

After Mesa, he transferred and graduated from Columbia with a Bachelors in Pure Mathematics and a Master’s Degree from U.H. Clearlake in Systems Engineering, and is now an Assembly, Integration, and Test Engineer for Intuitive Machines. Not only was Mario able to work on the project, but also was able to name it after winning a contest amongst other Intuitive Machines employees. He said the travels of the hero of the “Odyssey,” the ancient Greek epic poem, provided an apt analogy for the lunar mission.

Sources for this story included the Houston Chronicle, the San Diego Mesa College 2018-19 Annual Report and the June 1015 issue of the President’s Monday on the Mesa Newsletter.


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Tags: STEM, Alumni, Engineering