Intuitive Machines President and CEO, Steve Altemus, said the company is thrilled to sign with SpaceX to take Nova-C on its first mission to the moon. SpaceX’s ability to make low-cost, quality, lunar transport is paramount to completing NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract and Intuitive Machines becoming the first commercial company to land on the Moon.”
NASA awarded Intuitive Machines the first mission task order under the CLPS contract, on May 31, 2019. That contract calls for Intuitive Machines to develop, launch and land Nova-C on the lunar surface with a payload of NASA-provided instruments that will conduct science investigations and demonstrate advanced technologies on the lunar surface.
Intuitive Machines reviewed proposals from multiple launch providers and ultimately selected SpaceX for its proven record of reliability and outstanding value. Nova-C will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, honored that Intuitive Machines selected Falcon 9, SpaceX’s tried and true workhorse, for this pioneering mission to the Moon, and stated that this partnership with Intuitive Machines is a great example of two private companies working together with NASA to advance space exploration.
Powered by the liquid methane main engine, Nova-C can deliver at least 220 pounds of space technology and instrumentation cargo to anywhere on the lunar surface. On its maiden mission in 2021, Nova-C will carry 5 NASA CLPS payloads to the lunar surface and transmit scientific data back to Earth during 13.5 days of activity on the moon.
Intuitive Machines is in the process of adding additional payloads from other customers to the 2021 mission to fill out the available cargo manifest. The firm's Nova-C lunar lander draws direct heritage and lessons learned from NASA’s Project M lunar lander and Project Morpheus experience. Project M and its terrestrial counterpart, Project Morpheus, were designed, developed and tested by NASA JSC engineers demonstrate new technologies for planetary landing included autonomous hazard avoidance, precision landing, and high performance cryogenic liquid Oxygen (LOX) and liquid Methane (LCH4) integrated propulsion. Core Morpheus lander team members left government service and founded Intuitive Machines.