Intuitive Machines completes preparations for the launch of the lunar mission

NASA specialists and Intuitive Machines have begun the final stage of preparing the NOVA-C probe. It is planned to be sent to the Moon within the next few weeks. 

NOVA-C payload

NOVA-C will be launched as part of the NASA-funded CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) program. Its main goal is to attract commercial firms to the exploration of the moon of our planet. The contract for this mission was received by the company in 2019.

NOVA-C probe. Source: Intuitive Machines

Twelve cargoes are placed on board the spacecraft. Six are owned by NASA. Among them are a laser retroreflector, stereo camera for studying dust plumes created by the lander’s engines, a radio science instrument, lidar, as well as a device for a navigation experiment. 

The rest of the cargo was provided by various private customers — from Embry-Riddle Aviation University to the artist Jeff Koons. The most interesting of them is the EagleCAM selfie camera, which will be dropped by NOVA-C before landing and should capture the landing of the spacecraft.

As a passing cargo, along with NOVA-C, the Doge-1 cubesat (its launch was paid for with the Dogecoin cryptocurrency) will also go to the Moon. It will broadcast advertisements, logos and various images to Earth, which will be displayed on the external screen of the spacecraft while in lunar orbit.

NOVA-C Launch Date

At the moment, NASA and Intuitive Machines have not announced the exact launch date of the spacecraft. It is reported that it will happen no earlier than mid-February. A Falcon-9 rocket will be used for the mission.

The landing site of the NOVA-C probe. Source: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

It will take NOVA-C 9 days to reach the moon and attempt to land. The mission’s landing site should be the 24-kilometer Malapert A crater, located about 300 km from the moon’s south pole. If successful, Intuitive Machines will be the first private company to solve the problem of delivering cargo to the moon.

According to

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