Nova-C Lunar Lander
Nova-C model
DesignerIntuitive Machines
Country of originUnited States
ApplicationsLunar payloads delivery
Specifications
Spacecraft typeLander
Launch mass1,900 kg (4,200 lb) [1]
Payload capacity100 kg (220 lb) [2]
Power200 W (0.27 hp)[2]
Dimensions
Length3 m (9.8 ft) [3]
Diameter2 m (6 ft 7 in) [3]
Production
StatusIn development
Launched0
Maiden launchFebruary 2024 (scheduled)[4]
Related spacecraft
Derived fromProject Morpheus[2]

Nova-C is a lunar lander designed by the publicly-traded American company Intuitive Machines to deliver small commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon.

Intuitive Machines was one of nine commercial landing service providers[5] selected by NASA in November 2018 to submit bids for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.[6] Nova-C is one of the lunar landers that will be built and launched under that program. The first Nova-C lander is manifested on the IM-1 mission to be launched in February 2024,[4] with a second lander on the IM-2 mission and a third one on the IM-3 mission to follow later. All three landers will launch on SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle.[7][8][9][10]

Overview

The Nova-C lunar lander was designed by Intuitive Machines, inheriting technology developed by NASA's Project Morpheus.[2] Its pressure-fed VR900 main engine uses methane and oxygen as liquid propellants, pressurized by helium gas,[11] to produce 4,000 N (900 lbf) of thrust. The lander also includes autonomous landing and hazard detection technology.[1] Lander propellant loading will take place at the launch pad alongside propellant loading of the carrier rocket. For IM-1, lander propellant will be loaded at LC-39A using the same Transporter erector that will load RP-1 and liquid oxygen onto the mission's Falcon 9 Block 5 carrier rocket.[12] After landing, the lander is capable of relocating by performing a vertical takeoff, cruise, and vertical landing.[2] Methane and oxygen could potentially be manufactured on the Moon and Mars using In-situ resource utilization.[13][14] Nova-C is capable of 24/7 data coverage for its client payload, and can hold a payload of 100 kg.[2] The Nova-C lander design provides a technology platform that scales to mid and large lander classes, capable of accommodating larger payloads.[15]

IM-1 mission

Selection

Nova-C was selected in May 2019 for NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services as one of the first three landers of this program, tasked with delivering small payloads to explore and test technologies to process some natural resources of the Moon. NASA awarded Intuitive Machines US$77 million for building and launching Nova‑C.[15]

Launch

The IM-1 mission is scheduled for launch in February 2024.[4] Several days before the launch a wet dress rehearsal loading Nova‑C with propellants will take place.[16]

Payloads

For the IM-1 mission Nova‑C will carry up to five NASA-sponsored instruments. The lander will also carry payloads from other customers, including EagleCAM.[17] The lander will operate for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days.[10] The planned landing site has changed several times. At one point it was to land between Mare Serenitatis and Mare Crisium.[18][17] As of February 2023, the site will be at Malapert A near the lunar south pole.[19]

DOGE-1 and EagleCAM will be deployed as secondary payloads. The DOGE-1 payload has a mass of 40 kg and was paid for with Dogecoin.[20][21][22][23]

Name Agency/Company Type
Nova-C Intuitive Machines Lunar lander
* ILO-X [24] International Lunar Observatory Instrument
* Laser Retro-Reflector Array NASA Instrument
* Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing NASA Instrument
* Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator NASA Instrument
* Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies NASA Instrument
* Plasma and Low-frequency Radio Observations for the Near Side Lunar Surface (ROLSES) [25] NASA / University of Colorado Boulder Instrument
* Tiger Eye 1 [26] Louisiana State University Instrument
EagleCAM [27] Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University CubeSat
DOGE-1 Geometric Energy Corporation CubeSat
Lunaprise [28] Galactic Legacy Labs Memorial

IM-2 mission

Intuitive Machines was selected in October 2020 in order to land its second Nova-C lander near the lunar south pole. As of December 2023, IM-2 is expected to be launched in mid 2024.[29]

The primary payloads will be the PRIME-1 ice drill, which will attempt to harvest ice from below the lunar surface with the aid of the MSolo mass spectrometer.[30][31]

ILO-1 prime contractor Canadensys is working to deliver "a flight-ready low-cost optical payload for the ILO-1 mission, ruggedized for the Moon South Pole environment". It could potentially be ready for integration on the IM-2 mission.[32]

The µNova (Micro Nova) Hopper will separate from the Nova-C lander after landing and function as a standalone hopper lander, exploring multiple difficult-to-reach areas such as deep craters on the lunar surface.[33][34]

A lunar communications satellite will be deployed on this mission to facilitate communications between the lander and ground stations on Earth.[34]

Spaceflight will deliver rideshare payloads on this mission aboard its Sherpa EScape (Sherpa-ES) space tug called Geo Pathfinder.[35][36]

MiniPIX TPX3 SPACE Payload The MiniPIX TPX3 SPACE payload, provided by the Czech company ADVACAM, will be onboard the NOVA-C lunar lander. This payload is designed to monitor the radiation field on the Moon and help understand how to protect crew and equipment from the negative effects of cosmic rays. This marks the first Czech payload planned to be delivered to the Moon's surface.[37][38]

IM-3 mission

In August 2021, Intuitive Machines selected SpaceX to launch its third lunar mission, IM-3, in 2024.[7] It will deliver payloads to Reiner Gamma for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.[39][40]

See also

Commercial US Lunar landers

Current lunar lander programs

References

  1. ^ a b Berger, Eric (3 May 2021). "For lunar cargo delivery, NASA accepts risk in return for low prices". Ars Technica. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Nova-C Lunar Lander Archived 1 December 2018 at the Wayback Machine Intuitive Machines Accessed on 28 May 2019
  3. ^ a b Houston company among 9 tapped to build moon landers Archived 2018-12-01 at the Wayback Machine Alex Stuckey, The Houston Chronicle 30 November 2018
  4. ^ a b c "Falcon 9 Block 5 - Nova C (IM-1)". Next Spaceflight. 19 December 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  5. ^ "Houston-based Intuitive Machines to be among first private U.S. companies to land on the moon". Houston Chronicle. 5 June 2019.
  6. ^ "NASA Announces New Partnerships for Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Services". nasa.gov. NASA. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  7. ^ a b "Three-peat: Intuitive Machines Selects SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket for Third Moon Mission". Intuitive Machines. 10 August 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Intuitive Machines' first lunar lander mission slips to 2022". SpaceNews. 28 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  9. ^ "One Giant Leap". Columbia. 19 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  10. ^ a b Etherington, Darrell (13 April 2020). "Intuitive Machines picks a launch date and landing site for 2021 Moon cargo delivery mission". TechCrunch. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  11. ^ Intuitive Machines, LLC (23 April 2021). "Application of Intuitive Machines, LLC". FCC.
  12. ^ Foust, Jeff (4 October 2023). "First Intuitive Machines lunar lander ready for launch". SpaceNews. Retrieved 11 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Innovative Partnership Tests Fuels of the Future". NASA. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2012. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. ^ Nasa's new Mars landing craft Morpheus bursts into flames on take-off The Telegraph 10 August 2012
  15. ^ a b Intuitive Machines Headed To The Moon In 2021 Archived 2019-06-02 at the Wayback Machine Space Mining News 30 November 2018
  16. ^ Robinson-Smith, Will (27 October 2023). "Intuitive Machines targets launch to the Moon in mid-January". Spaceflight Now.
  17. ^ a b "Intuitive Machines-1 Orbital Debris Assessment Report (ODAR) Revision 1.1" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. 22 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  18. ^ "First Commercial Moon Delivery Assignments to Advance Artemis". NASA. 22 January 2020.
  19. ^ Foust, Jeff (7 February 2023). "Intuitive Machines moves landing site of first mission to lunar south pole". SpaceNews. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  20. ^ Geometric Energy press release. "SpaceX to Launch DOGE-1 to the Moon". newswire.ca. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  21. ^ "SpaceX accepts dogecoin as payment to launch lunar mission next year". Reuters. 9 May 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  22. ^ "IM-1 Nova-C and DOGE-1". Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  23. ^ "We knew @ElonMusk was taking #Dogecoin to the Moon, but had no idea it would be on our flight". Twitter. 10 May 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  24. ^ "International Lunar Observatory Association, ILO-X Precursor Mission Details". International Lunar Observatory Association. 21 September 2023. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  25. ^ "Radiowave Observations at the Lunar Surface of the photoElectron Sheath (ROLSES)". 18 July 2019.
  26. ^ "LSU Goes to the Moon". Louisiana State University. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  27. ^ "EagleCam; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida".
  28. ^ "Galactic Legacy Labs - About Us".
  29. ^ "Falcon 9 Block 5 - PRIME-1 (IM-2)". Next Spaceflight. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  30. ^ "NASA - NSSDCA - Spacecraft - Details".
  31. ^ Brown, Katherine (16 October 2020). "NASA Selects Intuitive Machines to Land Water-Measuring Payload on the Moon". NASA. Retrieved 15 November 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  32. ^ "The ILO Mission - ILOA Hawai'i". 7 April 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2023.
  33. ^ "Lunar Services – Getting Around – EXTREME Lunar Surface Mobility". Intuitive Machines. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  34. ^ a b "Intuitive Machines to Deploy and Operate First Lunar Communication Satellite in 2022". Intuitive Machines. 21 June 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  35. ^ "IM-2 South Pole Mission Adds Secondary Rideshare Spaceflight Inc". Intuitive Machines. 18 August 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  36. ^ "Spaceflight Inc announces rideshare mission to the moon and geostationary orbit". nasaspaceflight.com. 15 September 2021. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  37. ^ "ADVACAM - MiniPIX TPX3 SPACE". Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  38. ^ "LSU's TIGER EYE-1 to Monitor Radiation Environment in Deep Space". Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  39. ^ "NASA Selects Intuitive Machines to Deliver 4 Lunar Payloads in 2024". Intuitive Machines. 17 November 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  40. ^ "NASA Selects Intuitive Machines for New Lunar Science Delivery". NASA (Press release). 17 November 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  41. ^ "CLPS Providers - NASA". Retrieved 9 January 2024.