Intuitive Machines said it has chosen SpaceX to launch the IM-2 lunar lander on the Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than 2022.
“Signing with SpaceX for our IM-2 Polar Mission, our second scheduled lunar landing, is more than affordable quality lunar transport,” said IM President and CEO Steve Altemus, in a statement. “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.”
The IM-2 mission will send up a drilling experiment, known as Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment 1 (PRIME-1), to look for water below the lunar surface, Space News reports.
In October, NASA confirmed that water exists on the sunlit surface of the moon, near the Clavius crater in the Southern Hemisphere.
Houston, Texas-based Intuitive Machines is just one of three companies that have been awarded contracts via NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, an important designation for the company.
“Our Lunar Payload and Data Service (LPDS) program matures with each awarded mission to the moon,” Altemus added. “That maturity is essential for creating a reliable and repeatable lunar landing service that brings us closer to sustained lunar exploration and development.”
SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales Tom Ochinero said the company was “honored” to launch Intuitive Machines’ missions to the lunar surface.
“These missions, in partnership with NASA, will help further the goal of extending humanity’s reach beyond Earth,” Ochinero added.
After SpaceX received its official certification from NASA to carry astronauts to the International Space Station last year, which Musk described as a “great honor,” the 49-year-old billionaire added the news would help inspire “confidence in our endeavor to return to the moon, travel to Mars, and ultimately help humanity become multiplanetary.”
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