Complete and ready to be shipped to the cosmodrome: Intuitive Machines shows its first lunar vehicle

The first Intuitive Machines lunar vehicle is complete and ready to be sent to the launch pad for launch. The company’s executives are cautiously optimistic about the prospects of a successful landing on the Moon.

Fully assembled Nova-C spacecraft. Source: Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines unveiled the fully assembled Nova-C lunar lander at its new headquarters on October 3, a day after completing a pre-launch inspection that confirmed it was ready for transportation to the Kennedy Space Center. There it will be mounted on a Falcon 9 rocket and launched as part of a mission designated IM-1.

The six-day launch window will open on November 16. If all goes well, Nova-C will separate from the rocket 32 minutes after launch and begin a five-day journey to the Moon. A day after entering lunar orbit, the spacecraft will attempt to land in the 24-kilometer Malapert crater, located about 300 km from the south pole of the Moon. 

If successful, Intuitive Machines will become the first private company in history to land on the Moon. Earlier, the Israeli SpaceIL and the Japanese ispace tried to do this, but their Bereshit and Hakuto-R vehicles crashed during the descent. Intuitive Machines claims to have taken into account the experience of competitors’ unsuccessful landings. In general, the company estimates the probability of its success at 65%–75%.

There will be eleven cargoes on board the Nova-C. Five are owned by NASA and paid for under a contract issued under the CLPS program. The rest are provided by various private customers — from Embry-Riddle Aviation University to the artist Jeff Koons.

At the moment, the biggest problem associated with the launch is the workload of the LC-39A launch complex. Before IM-1, several rockets will be launched from there, including the Falcon Heavy with the Psyche probe. The launch of IM-1 is possible only with LC-39A, due to the fact that only this platform can refuel the lander with methane and liquid oxygen shortly before launch. If the mission does not go to the Moon in November, the launch will be postponed to a backup window in mid-December.

According to

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