Press Release

Intuitive Machines partners with SpaceX to launch its lunar lander, Nova-C.

By SpaceRef Editor
October 2, 2019
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Houston-based Intuitive Machines selected SpaceX to launch its lunar lander, Nova-C, to the Moon in 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket.

“Intuitive Machines is thrilled to sign with SpaceX to take Nova-C on its first mission to the moon,” said Intuitive Machines President and CEO, Steve Altemus. “SpaceX’s ability to make low-cost quality lunar transport is paramount to completing NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract and Intuitive Machines becoming the first commercial company to land on the Moon.”

NASA awarded Intuitive Machines the first mission task order under the CLPS contract, May 31, 2019. It calls for Intuitive Machines to develop, launch and land Nova-C on the lunar surface with a payload of NASA-provided instruments that will conduct science investigations and demonstrate advanced technologies on the lunar surface.

Intuitive Machines reviewed proposals from multiple launch providers and ultimately selected SpaceX for its proven record of reliability and outstanding value.
Nova-C will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“We’re honored that Intuitive Machines selected Falcon 9, SpaceX’s tried and true workhorse, for this pioneering mission to the Moon, said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX. “Our partnership with Intuitive Machines is a great example of two private companies working together with NASA to advance space exploration.”

About Nova-C

Powered by the liquid methane main engine, Nova-C can deliver at least 220 pounds of space technology and instrumentation cargo to anywhere on the lunar surface. On its maiden mission in 2021, Nova-C will carry 5 NASA CLPS payloads to the lunar surface and transmit scientific data back to Earth during 13.5 days of activity on the moon. Intuitive Machines is in the process of adding additional payloads from other customers to the 2021 mission to fill out the available cargo manifest.

Our Nova-C lunar lander draws direct heritage and lessons learned from NASA’s Project M lunar lander and Project Morpheus experience. Project M and its terrestrial counterpart, Project Morpheus, were designed, developed and tested by NASA JSC engineers demonstrate new technologies for planetary landing included autonomous hazard avoidance, precision landing, and high performance cryogenic liquid Oxygen (LOX) and liquid Methane (LCH4) integrated propulsion. Core Morpheus lander team members left government service and founded Intuitive Machines.

About Intuitive Machines

Founded in 2013, Intuitive Machines was formed from practical experience in large complex space systems development. The people of Intuitive Machines blend deep technical knowledge with practices honed over 40 years of human spaceflight; practices in risk-based decision-making, redundancy management, fault tolerance and isolation, safety, reliability, maintainability, verification testing, and operations.

Intuitive Machines Video Links

Nova-C LEO to lunar surface video:
Nova-C mockup video:
Nova-C main engine test fire video:
Nova-C Hot Fire Number 8 video:

SpaceRef staff editor.