This February 14, NASA’s Commercial Lunar Cargo Services (CLPS) and the Artemis campaign plan to launch the first lander built by Intuitive Machines to the lunar surface from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch will be aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
This is the second attempt by the United States in a few weeks to return to the Moon, currently with robotic missions, after the end of the Apollo program half a century ago. On January 8, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander was launched, but the ship’s lack of fuel prevented it from reaching its destination, scheduled for February 23.
Both missions are part of the CLPS initiative, so they hire private companies to build and launch the ships.
Intuitive Machines’ first flight, IM-1, will use the company’s Nova-C lunar lander and is scheduled to land on February 22 in the South Pole region of the Moon, near the Malapert A crater, a lunar impact crater. in the South. Moon’s Pole Region, NASA report.
The flight will carry six NASA payloads that will focus on plume-surface interactions, space weather-lunar surface interactions, radio astronomy, precision landing technologies, and a communications and navigation node for future autonomous navigation technologies.
In 2019, NASA gave it a task order for commercial robotic deliveries, to conduct scientific experiments, test technologies and demonstrate capabilities that will benefit the public space agency, all this to will contribute to lunar exploration before the Generation Artemis missions on the surface of the moon, which will go later, in the future missions to Mars.
The space agency is currently working with several American companies to bring science and technology to the lunar surface through CLPS. NASA contracts of this type have a maximum contractual value of $2.6 billion through 2028.