NASA and Intuitive Machines have reached an agreement on the landing site of the IM-1 mission. It will be the crater Malapert A, located at the south pole of the Moon.
In 2019, Intuitive Machines won its first USD 77 million contract under the CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) program. Its goal is to attract private companies to the development of the natural moon of our planet. Under the terms of the agreement, as part of the IM-1 mission, the company undertook to ensure the delivery to the Moon of six cargo provided by NASA (later loads from various private customers were added to them). For this purpose, the company uses the NOVA-C descent vehicle of its own design.
Initially, the landing site of NOVA-C was supposed to be the Schröter’s Valley, once considered as the landing site of the canceled Apollo 18 expedition. But in early 2023, NASA announced the redirection of the mission. The Aerospace Administration wanted IM-1 to land closer to the south pole of the Moon, chosen as the landing site for manned expeditions under the Artemis program. For this, NASA agreed to postpone the launch of the mission to a later date.
On May 25, a message was published on the NASA website confirming the transfer of the IM-1 landing site. Now it will be the 24-kilometer Malapert A crater, located in the southern polar region of the Moon. Not far from it is the so-called Malapert massif, which peak is considered as one of the possible landing sites of the Artemis III expedition.
According to NASA, changing the landing site will provide information that will make it possible to better assess the potential risks for future manned missions. In addition, engineers will be able to practice issues of navigation, accurate landing and communication with the device located at the south pole of the Moon.
At the moment, the launch of the IM-1 mission is scheduled for June. A Falcon 9 rocket will be used to send it to the Moon.
According to https://blogs.nasa.gov
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