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Intuitive Machines
Intuitive Machines
Date: Thursday, February 15, 2024
Time: 6:05 AM UTC (UTC +0)

This goes

to space

Nova C (IM-1)

The Intuitive Machines 1 (IM-1, TO2-IM) mission objective is to place a lander, called Nova-C, on the crater rim of Malapert A near the south pole of the Moon.

The commercially built lander will carry five NASA payloads and commercial cargo. The scientific objectives of the mission include studies of plume-surface interactions, radio astronomy, and space weather interactions with the lunar surface.

It will also be demonstrating precision landing technologies and communication and navigation node capabilities. IM-1 was selected through NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, in which NASA contracts with a commercial partner, in this case, Intuitive Machines, that provides the launch and lander.

The Nova-C Lander is a hexagonal cylinder, 4.0 meters tall and 1.57 meters wide, on 6 landing legs with a launch mass of 1908 kg. It is capable of carrying approximately 100 kg of payload to the surface. It uses solar panels to generate 200 W of power on the surface, using a 25 amp-hr battery and a 28 VDC system. Propulsion and landing use liquid methane as fuel and liquid oxygen as an oxidizer powering a 3100 N main engine mounted on the bottom of the lander.

Communications are via S-band. The scientific payload includes the Laser Retro-Reflector Array (LRA), Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing (NDL), Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator (LN-1), Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies (SCALPSS), and Radio wave Observation at the Lunar Surface of the photoElectron Sheath (ROLSES). In total, there are five NASA and four commercial payloads planned.

After launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, the Nova-C spacecraft will go into a 185 x 60,000 km Earth orbit, followed by a translunar injection and a maneuver to put it in a 100 km lunar orbit. The lander will land on the Moon on the rim of Malapert A crater near the south pole. The lander is capable of operating for about 14 Earth days in sunlight.

Courtesy of NASA.

Payloads:

Nova-C by Intuitive Machines

ILO-X by International Lunar Observatory

Laser Retro-Reflector Array by NASA

Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing by NASA

Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator by NASA

Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies by NASA

Plasma and Low-frequency Radio Observations for the Near Side Lunar Surface (ROLSES) by NASA / University of Colorado Boulder

Tiger Eye 1 by Louisiana State University

Lunaprise by Galactic Legacy Labs Memorial

CubeSats:

EagleCAM by Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University

DOGE-1 by Geometric Energy Corporation

On this

rocket

Falcon 9 (Block 5)

Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond.

Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket.

Stats
Total launches: 344


Total landings: 301


Total reflights: 275


The Falcon 9 has launched 49 humans into orbit since May 2020

Specs


Height: 70 m / 229.6 ft


Diameter: 3.7 m / 12 ft


Mass: 549,054 kg / 1,207,920 lb


Payload to LEO: 22,800 kg / 50,265 lb


Payload to GTO: 8,300 kg / 18,300 lb


Payload to Mars: 4,020 kg / 8,860 lb

On January 24, 2021, Falcon 9 launched the first ride-share mission to Sun Synchronous Orbit. It was delivering a record-setting 143 satellites to space. And while this was an important mission for SpaceX in itself, it was also the moment Falcon 9 overtook United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V for the total number of consecutive successful launches.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 had become America’s workhorse rocket, launching 31 times in 2021. It has already beaten that record this year, launching almost an average of once a week. While most of the launches deliver Starlink satellites to orbit, the company is still launching the most commercial payloads to orbit, too.

Falcon 9 is a medium-lift launch vehicle, with the capability to launch over 22.8 metric tonnes to low earth orbit. Unlike any other rocket, its first stage lands back on Earth after separating from its second stage. In part, this allows SpaceX to offer the cheapest option for most customers with payloads that need to reach orbit.

Under its ride-share program, a kilogram can be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit for a mere 1.1 million dollars, far cheaper than all other currently operating small satellite launch vehicles.

The reusability and fast booster turnaround times have made Falcon 9 the preferred choice for private companies and government agencies. This has allowed SpaceX to capture a huge portion of the launch market.

Image: SpaceX / Ben Cooper

From this

launch site

LC-39A - Kennedy Space Center, Florida
February 15, 2024

NASA's historic Kennedy Space Center is located on Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has hosted decades of historic space missions since the early days of the Apollo program.

Today, Kennedy Space Center is a multi-user spaceport and hosts private companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, and others.

SpaceX leases Launch Complex 39A at NASA's flagship facility and uses the pad to launch its Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets. The pad is also used to launch missions for the Commercial Crew Program for which SpaceX launches astronauts to the Space Station for NASA aboard their Crew Dragon capsule.

Launch Complex 39A was previously used by NASA to launch the Apollo 11 mission to land the first humans on the moon and Space Shuttle missions to assemble the International Space Station and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.

Image: Erik Kuna for Supercluster

Booster will

land here

Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1)
February 15, 2024

LZ-1

Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) is an 86 meter wide circular landing pad at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and is one of two SpaceX booster landing pads at the Florida spaceport.

Built on former Launch Complex 13, LZ-1 was the site of SpaceX's first successful landing and recovery of a Falcon 9 on the ORBCOMM-2 mission in December 2015. Since then, it has hosted 16 landings.

The landing pad, as well as its twin, LZ-2 located a few dozen meters away, can support both single landings of a Falcon 9 or simultaneous landings of the two Falcon Heavy side boosters.

Photo: Jenny Hautmann for Supercluster

Nova-C Will

Land Here

Crater Malapert A

Nova-C will take five days to reach the Moon following its launch, entering lunar orbit for a day before finally attempting a nerve-wracking landing on the Moon. It is targeting the rim of a crater at the Moon’s south pole called Malapert A for the landing, having been asked by NASA to move its landing site earlier this year. “We’ll be further south than anybody’s been,” says Altemus. “That’s a fantastic place to set up a research station.”

The stationary Nova-C lander will carry with it several instruments to study the Moon’s surface. The goal of the mission is “scientific discovery and engineering technologies,” says Altemus. While some instruments are supplied by NASA, others are from partners that have paid for space on the lander, highlighting potential commercial opportunities from future Moon landings.

That will include studying the lunar dust, which is “superfine like talcum powder” says Altemus, to see how it interacts with the dust plume of the lander. Other studies will measure radio waves on the Moon, while there will also be a camera to take images of the Milky Way from the surface of the Moon. “It’ll be an interesting view that no one’s ever seen of the Milky Way galaxy,” says Altemus.

Other instruments will monitor the touchdown of Nova-C, including a 360-degree camera supplied by Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University in Ohio that will fall to the surface ahead of the lander and take pictures of the landing. And there’s even a piece of fabric for US clothing company Columbia Sportswear on board, perhaps a brazen example of potential private partnerships. “It’s partly a sponsorship and partly an engineering technology demonstration,” says Altemus.

Credit: Jonathan O'Callaghan in "NASA-Funded Private Moon Race Begins With Dueling Landers" for Supercluster

Here's where to view Nova-C (IM-1)

Viewing Sites
  • Alan Shepard Park
  • A. Max Brewer Parkway Bridge
  • Saturn V Building / Banana Creek
  • Cherie Down Park
  • Cocoa Beach Pier
  • Jetty Park
  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
  • Lori Wilson Park
  • Playalinda Beach
  • Rotary Riverfront Park
  • Sand Point Park
  • Sidney Fischer Park
  • Space View Park

Space is for everyone. Here’s a link to share the launch with your friends.