Intuitive Machines chose by NASA for CLPS lunar landing mission

Intuitive Machines chose by NASA for CLPS lunar landing mission

Efforts for 2024 Mission

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Intuitive Machines was given a $77.5 million contract by NASA on Nov. 17 to carry four payloads to the moon’s surface in 2024.

Intuitive Machines and its Nova-C lander have been chosen by NASA for the 2024 mission, the eighth in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Reiner Gamma, a “lunar swirl” towards the western border of the moon’s near side, is where the lander will touch down. This will be accompanied by a strong local magnetic field, the origins of which are unknown.

In a statement, NASA assistant administrator for science Thomas Zurbuchen said, “Observing lunar swirls can offer us knowledge about the moon’s radiation environment and perhaps how to limit its impacts.” “Through Artemis, we can help prepare for long-term human missions by increasing the number of science and technological demonstrations on the lunar surface.”

The mission, dubbed IM-3 by Intuitive Machines, will carry four payloads totaling 92 kilos to Reiner Gamma. The magnetic field of the region will be studied by Lunar Vertex utilizing instruments on the lander as well as a separate rover.

The Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration (CADRE) mission will examine the lunar surface using miniature rovers that will work together as an autonomous team. MoonLIGHT is a laser retroflector developed by the European Space Agency. The Lunar Space Environment Monitor (LUaSEM) is provided by the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute to measure high-energy particles.

IM-3 is Intuitive Machines’ third lunar lander mission, all of which have used the Nova-C lander. The launch of the IM-1 mission is presently planned for the first quarter of 2022. It will make a landing attempt at Oceanus Procellarum. IM-2 will go to the south pole of the moon in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Plans for IM-3 and its Potentials

In August, the corporation unveiled its plans for IM-3, choosing SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 to launch the lander. Intuitive Machines noted at the time that the mission had yet to be assigned a landing location and that the lander had an “open manifest for commercial and civic customers.”

On a dispenser ring that can be deployed in a lunar transfer orbit, the mission will be able to carry up to 1,000 kilos of secondary payloads. The IM-3 mission will include a data relay satellite dubbed Khon2 that will be stationed near the Earth-moon L-2 point, according to Intuitive Machines. This is part of the company’s Khonstellation lunar data relay services program, which comprises a communications satellite launched into lunar orbit on the IM-2 mission.

“We are really pleased with the cost of these services,” he said but added a caution. “They are yet to land on the moon yet, and that final step is crucial.”

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