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Updated December 20th, 2023 at 17:26 IST

Intuitive Machine delays maiden Moon landing mission until mid-February 2024

If IM-1 mission is successful, Intuitive Machines will become the first private company to ace a Moon landing.

Reported by: Harsh Vardhan
nasa
Artist's representation of Nova-C lander on its way to the Moon. | Image:Intuitive Machines
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Houston-based Intuitive Machines (IM), on December 20, announced the delay of its mission to the Moon. In an official statement, the company said that it is now targeting a "multi-day launch window" which opens no earlier than mid-February 2024. It earlier had plans to launch its Moon lander between January 12 to 16 on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

"The updated window comes after unfavorable weather conditions resulted in shifts in the SpaceX launch manifest," IM said in its statement.

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In coordination with SpaceX, launch of the Company’s IM-1 lunar mission is now targeted for a multi-day launch window that opens no earlier than mid-February 2024. The updated window comes after unfavorable weather conditions resulted in shifts in the SpaceX launch manifest.… pic.twitter.com/oGwPh3wube

— Intuitive Machines (@Int_Machines) December 19, 2023

It also said that the delay has been made keeping in mind the monthly lunar blackout period, since IM's Nova-C lander will need proper illumination while touching down at the south pole of the Moon. There are only a handful of days each month when specific lighting conditions are available for Moon landing missions.

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The Nova-C lander. Image: IM

The upcoming Moon mission will be IM's first-ever under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative which has the ultimate goal of establishing lunar bases under the Artemis Program. 

Earlier this month, the Nova lander arrived at Cape Canaveral in Florida and is ready after major system tests, verification, and certification. The lander's integration with Falcon 9 will be the final step.

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The 4-meter-tall cylindrical Nova-C lander has plans to touch down at the Malapert A crater in the Moon's South Pole, and similar to Chandrayaan-3, it will operate for 14 Earth days.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission by ISRO touched down about 600 km from the lunar South Pole on August 23, making India the fourth nation to make a soft landing on the Moon. If IM-1 is successful, it will become the first private company to ace a Moon landing. Prior to IM, another private firm from Japan ispace attempted to land on the Moon but failed in April this year. 
 

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Published December 20th, 2023 at 17:26 IST

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