Intuitive Machines (IM) has chosen SpaceX and the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket for its second moon mission. At present, both of the Intuitive Machines missions headed to the moon in the next three years will be launched by SpaceX. This will be the Intuitive Machines IM-2 Polar Mission, and will bring the IM Nova-C lander to the moon, where it’ll deploy the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment (PRIME-1) drill by December 2022.
The two lunar missions run by Intuitive Machines are two of five awarded Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) missions headed to our moon in the next half-decade. All were awarded under NASA’s CLPS initiative, and this latest IM mission award was granted back on October 16, 2020.
Delivering the PRIME-1 drill to the moon is a precursor to expanded exploration of the moon with systems like the TRIDENT drill, the mobile robot VIPER, and the mass spectrometer known as MSolo. Lots of activity is about to be going down on our nearest space neighbor, it would seem.
UPDATE: The IM-2 Polar Mission (with the PRIME-1 drill) will be launched no earlier than January of 2022, and no later than December of 2022. That gives a relatively massive launch window which we’re sure will be narrowed significantly in the very near future.
“Signing with SpaceX for our IM-2 Polar Mission, our second scheduled lunar landing, is more than affordable quality lunar transport,” said Steve Altemus, IM President and CEO. “Launching Nova-C on a rocket with a proven record of reliability and outstanding value is an assurance to NASA and our commercial payload customers that IM is dedicated to sticking the landing in back-to-back Moon missions.”