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Nasa’s support fuels US company’s Moon launch ambition.

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TLDR:

  • Nasa-backed private US company, Intuitive Machines, plans to launch a lunar lander on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on February 14.
  • The lander, named Odysseus, will attempt to become the first-ever private spacecraft to softly land on the lunar surface on February 22.

The US has not attempted a moon landing since Apollo 17 in 1972, but Intuitive Machines’ mission could mark a return to lunar exploration.

Nasa-backed private US company Intuitive Machines is planning to launch a lunar lander on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on February 14. The lunar lander, named Odysseus, will attempt to become the first-ever private spacecraft to softly land on the lunar surface on February 22. The mission aims to bring the US back to the moon after a 50 year hiatus. The IM-1 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, and the payloads sent to the moon’s surface as part of CLPS will help lay the foundation for human missions and a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.

The mission comes after another NASA-backed firm, Astrobiotic Technology, suffered “critical” fuel loss and was unable to successfully land its lunar lander on the moon last month. Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus will be launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and aims to land softly on the lunar surface, marking a historic achievement for private space exploration.

Intuitive Machines President and CEO Steve Altemus expressed pride and excitement at the upcoming mission. “Their tireless efforts have brought us to this moment, where we stand on the precipice of history, humbled by the gravity of our mission, yet emboldened by the boundless possibilities that lie ahead,” he said.

If successful, the mission will be the first US moon landing since Apollo 17 in December 1972 and will be a significant milestone in space exploration. The IM-1 mission is part of NASA’s broader Artemis lunar exploration efforts, which aim to establish a sustained human presence on the lunar surface.

The mission is a collaboration between Intuitive Machines and NASA, with the goal of advancing lunar exploration and paving the way for future human missions. The science and technology payloads sent to the moon’s surface as part of the CLPS initiative will contribute to this goal.

This mission marks a significant step forward in the private space sector, indicating a growing interest in lunar exploration and a potential shift of focus away from government-led missions. It demonstrates the capabilities and potential of private companies in pushing the boundaries of space exploration and innovation.

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