SpaceX and Intuitive Machines are preparing to launch a private IM-1 Nova-C Lander from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Florida’s Space Coast soon. The launch will occur during a three-day window in mid-February if everything goes according to plan.
“As our combined teams closed the two fairing halves, I saw the lunar lander for the last time on Earth,” Trent Martin, vice president for space systems at the Houston company Intuitive Machines, which developed the lander, said during a call with reporters this afternoon.
Even though no official date has been fixed for the launch, Martin stated that an attempt to land the Nova-C’s lunar lander on the moon will occur on Feb. 22 no matter the day the mission liftoff. However, if the liftoff cannot take place during the February launch door, the next launch attempt will be in March.
Intuition Machine named this upcoming mission IM-1 and they hope to place the Nova-C lunar lander near an impact crater called Malapert A. This region lies within 10 degrees latitude of the lunar south pole. Scientists are so much interested in this area as they think that it houses large amounts of water ice.
What you should Know About IM-1’s Nova-C lander
IM-1’s Nova-C lander named Odysseus by the maker Intuitive Machine will be carrying six NASA science instruments through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Service Program (CLPS). NASA through its CLPS hopes to take advantage of private robotic landers to obtain scientific data that will help it establish a permanent human presence on the lunar surface and around the lunar orbit.
The American space agency is already working towards landing humans on the moon with its Artemis program. Hence, obtaining enriched science data through its CLPS will help the agency plan ahead of its crewed lunar exploration. NASA’s instruments aboard the IM-1’s Nova-C lander include a camera system built to capture the plumes created by the lander’s touchdown, a laser-based descent and landing sensor, and finally a new type of space-age fuel gauge.
This space-age fuel gauge will use sensors to calculate the amount of propellant that remains in the lander’s tanks. Note that estimating the amount of propellant that remains in the lander’s tank is quite challenging in a microgravity environment. However, this new type of fuel gauge will give NASA a hint on how to determine the amount of fuel that remains during its next crewed mission to the lunar south pole.
“Future spaceflight missions using cryogenic propellants can potentially take the guesswork out of monitoring propellant reserves and save fuel by using this technology,” Debra Needham, program scientist in the Exploration Science Strategy and Integration Office at NASA headquarters, said in Jan. 31’s briefing.
Intuitive Machine reveals that its Odysseus will also carry six commercial payloads on its IM-1’s Nova-C lander for its numerous customers.
History that IM-1’s Nova-C lander Will Create Upon Soft-landing On The Moon
If SpaceX and Intuitive Machines launch the IM-1’s Nova-C lander in February, the space probe will likely make a soft landing on the moon in February. Once the lander soft-land, Intuitive Machines will become the first commercial firm to successfully send a lander to the moon.
The company will become more popular globally as many more agencies will collaborate with them for future missions. Keep in mind that Nova-C is not the first lunar lander supported by NASA’s CLPS. On Jan 8, Astrobotic’s Peregrine spacecraft supported by the CLPS lifted off on its first-ever mission aboard the United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket.
While Vulcan Centaur performed well in delivering the lander to orbit, the Peregrine encountered a fuel leakage challenge shortly after deployment from the rocket’s upper stage. After flying in deep space for 10 days, the Peregrine lander was steered to a controlled destruction in Earth’s atmosphere on Jan. 18.
Even though the Peregrine lander lost its chances of becoming the first private spacecraft to land on the moon, Odysseus will likely make Americans and the world proud by creating this history.
On January 19, Japan’s robotic SLIM lander survived a rocky landing attempt and reached the moon’s surface. This landing made Japan the fifth country to ever put a probe on the moon’s surface after the Soviet Union, the United States, China, and India.
Hence, let us remain hopeful as Odysseus makes its lunar landing attempt on February 22 and watch it succeed.