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NASA Finalizes Intuitive Machines' 2021 Moon Payload

Press Release From: Intuitive Machines, LLC
Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2020

NASA has finalized the first 16 science experiments and technology demonstrations, ranging from chemistry to communications, to be delivered to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis program. Scheduled to fly next year, the payloads will launch aboard the first two lander deliveries of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. These deliveries will help pave the way for sending the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface by 2024. 

Intuitive Machines, which will launch its Nova-C lander on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, will carry five NASA payloads to the Moon.

Laser Retro-Reflector Array (LRA)

LRA is a collection of eight approximately half inch (1.25 centimeter) retro-reflectors – a unique kind of mirror that is used for measuring distance -- mounted to the lander. This mirror reflects laser light from other orbiting and landing spacecraft to precisely determine the lander’s position. It is being provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

 

Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing (NDL)

The NDL is a LIDAR-based (LIght Detection And Ranging) sensor composed of a three-beam optical head and a box with electronics and photonics that will provide extremely precise velocity and range sensing during descent and landing of the lander that will tightly control navigation precision for a soft and controlled touchdown on the Moon. NDL is being collaboratively developed by NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. 

Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator (LN-1)

LN-1 is a CubeSat-sized experiment that will demonstrate autonomous navigation to support future surface and orbital operations. It has flown on the space station and is being developed at NASA Marshall.

 

Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies (SCALPSS)

SCALPSS will capture video and still image data of the lander’s plume as the plume starts to impact the lunar surface until after engine shut off, which is critical for future lunar and Mars vehicle designs. It is being developed at NASA Langley, and also leverages camera technology used on the Mars 2020 rover.

 

Low-frequency Radio Observations for the Near Side Lunar Surface (ROLSES)

ROLSES will use a low-frequency radio receiver system to determine photoelectron sheath density and scale height.  These measurements will aide future exploration missions by demonstrating if there will be an effect on the antenna response or larger lunar radio observatories with antennas on the lunar surface. In addition, the ROLSES measurements will confirm how well a lunar surface-based radio observatory could observe and image solar radio bursts.  It is being developed at NASA Goddard.

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