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Nova-C IM-3 (CP 11)

Nova-C IM- 3 [Intuitive Machines]

Nova-C is a lunar lander privately developed by Intuitive Machines for the Google Lunar-X-Prize and later offered commercially.

NASA has awarded a contract to Intuitive Machines of Houston to deliver research to the Moon in 2024, including science investigations and a technology demonstration. NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative and the Artemis program are both involved in the commercial delivery.

Reiner Gamma, one of the Moon's most distinctive and enigmatic natural features, is the target of the investigations aboard Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lander. Reiner Gamma, also known as a lunar swirl, is located on the western edge of the Moon as seen from Earth and is one of the most visible lunar swirls. Scientists are still learning about lunar swirls, how they form, and how they relate to the Moon's magnetic field.

The contract will be worth $77.5 million to Intuitive Machines, which will be responsible for end-to-end delivery services such as payload integration, delivery from Earth to the Moon's surface, and payload operations. This is the third task order awarded to Intuitive Machines, the first of which is a delivery to Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon during the first quarter of 2022. The seventh surface delivery task award given to a CLPS provider.

The four investigations that Intuitive Machines will deliver to Reiner Gamma are expected to weigh approximately 203 pounds (92 kg) and include:

The Nova-C IM-3 lander will be launched on a shared SpaceX Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) rocket in 2024.

Following NASA payloads have been selected for the mission:

  • Lunar Vertex (LVx) is one of NASA's Payloads and Research Investigations on the Moon's Surface (PRISM) selections. It is a combination of stationary lander payloads and a rover that will measure the magnetic field, plasma environment, and regolith properties in great detail. The data from the lander and rover will supplement observations from orbit. The observations will help explain how these mysterious lunar swirls form and evolve, as well as how they interact with local magnetic fields in the same regions. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, is leading the project, which is funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.
  • Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration (CADRE) is a team of mobile robots programmed to explore the lunar surface, collect data, and map various areas of the Moon in 3D. CADRE tracks each robot's position as it explores the lunar surface using an inertial measurement unit, stereo cameras, and a Sun sensor. CADRE is funded by NASA's Game Changing Development program, which is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
  • The MoonLIGHT retroreflector is a laser retroreflector that reflects laser beams sent from Earth directly back to Earth. This allows for extremely accurate distance measurements between the reflector and the ground station. This technique can be used to study relativity, the Earth-Moon system's gravitational dynamics, and the deep lunar interior. The European Space Agency is in charge of MoonLIGHT. (ESA).
  • The Lunar Space Environment Monitor (LUSEM) detects high-energy particles on the lunar surface using a pair of apertures. LUSEM will track changes in the near-surface space environment when the Moon is inside and outside Earth's magnetotail, which is the trailing end of the magnetic fields that surround our planet and can act as a buffer for incoming radiation. The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) in South Korea manages LUSEM.
Nation: USA
Type / Application: Lunar lander
Operator: Intuitive Machines
Contractors: Intuitive Machines
Equipment: Lunar Vertex, CADRE, MoonLIGHT, LUSEM
Configuration: Nova-C
Propulsion: VR900
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Nova-C IM-3 (CP 11) - 2024 CCK LC-39A Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with ?

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