|Country of origin||United States|
|Applications||Lunar payloads delivery|
|Launch mass||1,900 kg (4,200 lb) |
|Payload capacity||100 kg (220 lb) |
|Power||200 W (0.27 hp)|
|Length||3 m (9.8 ft) |
|Diameter||2 m (6 ft 7 in) |
|Maiden launch||Q1 2022 (planned) |
|Derived from||Project Morpheus |
Nova-C is a lunar lander designed by the private company Intuitive Machines to deliver small commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon.
Intuitive Machines was one of nine contractor companies selected by NASA in November 2018 to submit bids for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Nova-C is one of three lunar landers that will be built and launched under that program.
The first Nova-C lander is manifested on the IM-1 mission in early 2022, with a second lander on the IM-2 mission later that year. Both will launch on the Falcon 9 rocket.
The Nova-C lunar lander was designed by Intuitive Machines, and it inherits technology developed by NASA's Project Morpheus. It features a main engine called the VR900 that uses methane and liquid oxygen and produces 900 lbf (4,000 N) of thrust, and an autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. After landing, the lander is capable of relocating by performing a vertical takeoff, cruise, and vertical landing. Methane and oxygen could potentially be manufactured on the Moon and Mars using In-situ resource utilization). Nova-C is capable of 24/7 data coverage for its client payload, and can hold a payload of 100 kg. The Nova-C lander design provides a technology platform that scales to mid and large lander classes, capable of accommodating larger payloads.
Nova-C was selected in May 2019 for NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) as one of the first three landers of this program, that is 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. The other selected lander is the Peregrine by Astrobotic.
During the IM-1 mission planned for early 2022, Nova-C will carry up to five NASA-sponsored instruments to land between Mare Serenitatis and Mare Crisium. In addition, the lander will also carry some payloads from other customers, including EagleCAM and 1–2 Spacebit rovers. The lander will operate for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days.
DOGE-1 will also be a minor rideshare payload, with a mass of 40kg.
|Nova-C||Intuitive Machines||Lunar lander|
|*ILO-X||International Lunar Observatory||Instrument|
|*Laser Retro-Reflector Array (LRA)||NASA||Instrument|
|*Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing (NDL)||NASA||Instrument|
|*Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator (LN-1)||NASA||Instrument|
|*Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies (SCALPSS)||NASA||Instrument|
|*Low-frequency Radio Observations for the Near Side Lunar Surface (ROLSES)||NASA / University of Colorado Boulder||Instrument|
|*Tiger Eye 1||Louisiana State University||Instrument|
|Spacebit Mission Two||Spacebit||Rover|
|EagleCAM||Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University||Cubesat|
|DOGE-1||Geometric Energy Corporation||Cubesat|
|Lunaprise||Galactic Legacy Labs||Memorial|
Intuitive Machines was selected in October 2020 to land its second Nova-C lander near the lunar south pole by December 2022.
One of 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.
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.