Launch of the Intuitive Machines’ first lunar mission is postponed to January

Intuitive Machines announced the postponement of the launch date of its first lunar mission. It is now scheduled for January 2024.

Nova-C lunar vehicle. Source: Intuitive Machines

In 2019, Intuitive Machines became one of the participants in the NASA-funded CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) program. Its main goal is to attract commercial firms to the development of the Moon.

As part of its first mission, the company plans to send the Nova-C spacecraft to the Moon. It is supposed to land in the 24-kilometer crater Malapert A, located about 300 kilometers from the South Pole of the moon. Eleven cargoes will be placed on board the spacecraft. 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.

Until recently, the launch of Nova-C was scheduled for November 15. However, the company announced in its latest press release that it was postponed to a “multi-day” ballistic window, which would open on January 12, 2024. The company did not specify the reasons for the delay. But before that, representatives of Intuitive Machines announced the possibility of a postponement due to the overload of the launch pad. Nova-C is planned to be launched from the LC-39A complex, since it is the only one that allows the lander to be refueled with methane and liquid oxygen immediately before launch.

Recall that the ULA launch operator recently announced the date of the first launch of the Vulcan rocket, which would send the Peregrine spacecraft, created by Astrobotic, to the Moon. It is scheduled for December 24, 2023.

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