NASA has awarded Intuitive Machines of Houston a contract to deliver research, including science investigations and a technology demonstration, to the Moon in 2024. The commercial delivery is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative and the Artemis program.
The investigations aboard Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander are destined for Reiner Gamma, one of the most distinctive and enigmatic natural features on the Moon. Known as a lunar swirl, Reiner Gamma is on the western edge of the Moon, as seen from Earth, and is one of the most visible lunar swirls. Scientists continue to learn what lunar swirls are, how they form, and their relationship to the Moon’s magnetic field.
“This delivery to the Moon will help the U.S. expand our capabilities and learn more about this interesting region,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Observing lunar swirls can give us information about the Moon’s radiation environment and perhaps how to mitigate its effects. With more and more science and technology demonstrations on the lunar surface, we can help prepare for sustainable astronaut missions through Artemis.”
Intuitive Machines will receive $77.5 million for the contract and is responsible for end-to-end delivery services, including payload integration, delivery from Earth to the surface of the Moon, and payload operations. This is Intuitive Machines’ third task order award, the first of which is a delivery to Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon during the first quarter of 2022. This award is the seventh surface delivery task award issued to a CLPS partner.
“These investigations show how CLPS is capable of delivering payloads to the lunar surface that will address our primary scientific goals for lunar exploration and discovery,” said Chris Culbert, manager of the CLPS initiative at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We aim to learn more about lunar swirls and this payload manifest is designed to obtain data unique to the geographical feature of Reiner Gamma.”
The four investigations Intuitive Machines will deliver to Reiner Gamma are collectively expected to be about 203 pounds (92 kg) in mass and include:
As NASA continues plans for multiple commercial deliveries to the Moon, future payloads that may be delivered with CLPS could also include other rovers, power sources, and science experiments, including technology demonstrations to later be infused into the Artemis program.
Learn more about CLPS at:
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