Intuitive Machines Lunar Mission Pushed to January

Intuitive Machines Nova-C mission render
Nova-C mission render. Image: Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 lunar lander mission has been delayed from November to January, the company announced Friday. 

The startup did not specify a reason for the postponement; however, lunar missions have specific launch windows that must fit in with SpaceX’s and the launch facility’s packed calendar.

“There are inherent challenges of lunar missions; schedule changes and mission adjustments are a natural consequence of pioneering lunar exploration,” said Intuitive Machine chief Steve Altemus. “Receiving a launch window and the required approvals to fly is a remarkable achievement, and the schedule adjustment is a small price to pay for making history.” 

Lunar dollars: NASA commissioned the IM-1 lunar lander as a part of its commercial lunar payload services (CLPS) program, which is doling out $2.6B worth of contracts through 2028 to deliver science and tech payloads to the lunar surface.  

  • IM-1 will carry five NASA payloads, along with other institutional, commercial, and art shipments. 
  • The 4.3m-tall lander is capable of transporting 130kg to the lunar surface. 
  • The spacecraft will attempt to land at the Malapert Crater near the lunar south pole.  

Leapfrog: With this delay, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander mission, another CLPS effort, leapfrogs IM-1 in launch order. Astrobotic’s lander is expected to lift off Christmas Eve aboard ULA’s Vulcan rocket. 

Intuitive Machines and Astrobotic are racing to become the first commercial spacecraft to successfully soft land on the Moon. 

+ Stock pulse: After an early 2023 SPAC listing, $LUNR stock skyrocketed to a 52-week high of $136 a pop. With what has become a trend in space equities, share prices have since marched themselves back down to Earth and now sit at $2.67.

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