Intuitive Machines was given a $77.5 million deal by NASA on November 17 to carry four payloads to the moon’s surface in the year 2024. The Intuitive Machines company and its Nova-C lander have been chosen by NASA for the 2024 flight, the eighth in its CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) project. Reiner Gamma, a “lunar swirl” near the western border of the close side of the moon linked with a strong regional magnetic field whose origins are unknown, is where the lander will touch down.
In a statement, NASA associate administrator in charge of science Thomas Zurbuchen said, “Observing lunar swirls can offer us knowledge about the moon’s radiation environment and maybe 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 lunar surface.”
The mission, dubbed IM-3 by the 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 lander and also a separate rover. The Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration (CADRE) mission will examine the lunar surface using miniature rovers that will work together as 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 be able to measure high-energy particles.
IM-3 is Intuitive Machines’ third lunar lander flight, all of which have used the Nova-C lander. The IM-1 mission, which will aim to land at the Oceanus Procellarum, is set to launch in the very first quarter of 2022. IM-2 will move to south pole of moon in the 4th quarter of 2022. In August, the corporation unveiled its plans for IM-3, choosing SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to deploy the lander. Intuitive Machines noted at the time that the mission had yet to be assigned a landing location and that lander had an “open manifest for both commercial and civil customers.”
On a dispenser ring which can be implemented in lunar transfer orbit, the mission will be capable of carrying 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 initiative, which comprises a communications satellite launched into lunar orbit on IM-2 mission.
Intuitive Machines’ president and chief executive, Steve Altemus, said in a statement, “This win is another evidence of our dedication to assisting establish the framework for a continuous long-term presence on lunar surface.”
This is the CLPS program’s seventh award. Astrobotic has been awarded 2 missions, Firefly Space Systems, as well as Masten Space Systems, have each won one, in addition to the 3 Intuitive Machines landers. The IM-1, IM-2, as well as Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander are all scheduled to launch in 2022.