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Author Topic:   Intuitive Machines IM-1 Nova-C lunar mission
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 50490
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-02-2019 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Intuitive Machines release
Intuitive Machines selects SpaceX to launch Nova-C to the Moon in 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket

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."

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 50490
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-13-2020 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Intuitive Machines release
Launch Date and Landing Site Selected For 2021 Moon Mission

Intuitive Machines engineers selected an area in Oceanus Procellarum near Vallis Schröteri as the landing site for its upcoming IM-1 lunar mission with an anticipated launch date in October 2021.

Vallis Schröteri, also known as Schröter's Valley, is the largest valley on the Moon (comparable in size to the Grand Canyon) and is surrounded by Oceanus Procellarum, the largest lunar maria on the Moon. Oceanus Procellarum, also called the Ocean of Storms, covers over 10 percent of the entire Moon and has a diverse array of geological features. NASA considered a site near Vallis Schröteri for Apollo 18; now, IM is taking up the baton to conduct the initial survey.

Nova-C, the first lander wholly developed by a private company, will deliver commercial cargo and five NASA-provided payloads to the lunar surface. These payloads will conduct scientific research and technology demonstrations as part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, in preparation for sending astronauts back to the Moon in 2024.

The Nova-C Flight Dynamics team considered every available detail within one degree of the 25N, 50W location to identify an ideal 200-meter landing site for the mission. The chosenlanding site is flat, free of large craters and rocks, and has abundant sunlight throughout the 14-day lunar "day."

"This kind of lunar landing assessment hasn't been done since the 1972 Apollo mission," said IM President and CEO, Steve Altemus. "The tremendous effort our team has put forth to fully characterize our descent approach, landing site options and lighting conditions to ensure mission success is a paramount task required to fulfill our obligation to our private payload customers and NASA."

"Our Flight Dynamics team really outdid themselves evaluating trajectories and landing conditions during each launch window," said IM Vice President of Research and Development, Dr. Tim Crain. "They managed to design this landing site that is supported across our primary and secondary four-day launch windows. No one in Houston has looked as seriously at landing sites for a funded lunar landing mission in almost 50 years."

The site is very interesting from a scientific perspective. Like other sinuous rilles (valleys), Vallis Schröteri is believed to have been formed by a collapsed lava tube from volcanic material that flowed from a crater (Cobra Head) located on the elevated Aristarchus Plateau into the low Oceanus Procellarum. In addition, the surrounding mare may include materials from the beginning of the Copernican Period (one billion years ago).

Nova-C will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at the NASA Kennedy Space Center, the Apollo Saturn V launch pad. The launch is nominally scheduled for October 11, 2021 with multiple subsequent launch opportunities. This launch epoch allows for a near-optimal transfer with a 6-day transit from the Earth to the Moon and provides 14 days of sunlight at the target landing site after landing.

The Intuitive Machines Nova-C mission will test an automated Precision Landing and Hazard Avoidance (PLHA) landing system paving the way for NASA astronauts to land on the lunar surface by 2024.


Posts: 310
From: Louisiana
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 05-06-2021 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstronautBrian   Click Here to Email AstronautBrian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My alma mater is going bang, zoom to the Moon, Alice!

Louisiana State University (LSU) release

LSU Goes to the Moon

As the U.S. lands on the Moon next year, for the first time since 1972 and the Apollo program, LSU technology built by students in close collaboration with industry partners will report back from the lunar surface. Undergraduate students in five different LSU colleges and schools are leading the mission, which will make future space travel safer for astronauts and equipment. Meet the team behind Tiger Eye 1.

Next year, Louisiana State University (LSU) will be the first university in the world to put technology on the Moon. The Tiger Eye 1 research mission is part of a multi-disciplinary university-industry collaboration to make future space travel safer for people and equipment by providing insight into the complex radiation environment in space. LSU's radiation detection device is now officially on the manifest for the broader IM-1 mission, the first in a series of commercial flights (and the first-ever to land on the Moon) that will bring science and technology to the lunar surface through NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. This will also be the first time the U.S. lands on the Moon since 1972 and the Apollo program.

Above: One reason for the "Tiger Eye" name: the detectors in the device are configured like a telescope. The radiation enters the aperture, is measured at the first detector, then travels through the material being tested and is measured again at the second detector. This allows the researchers to understand how effective the material is for shielding the cosmic ray environment.

Students in five different LSU colleges and schools are leading the charge under the direction of Assistant Professor Jeffery Chancellor in the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy, head of its Space Radiation Transport & Applied Nuclear (SpaRTAN) lab. All are undergraduate seniors from Louisiana:

Haley Pellegrin, from Bourg in Terrebonne Parish, is a LaSpace Undergraduate Research Fellow and member of the SpaRTAN lab where she develops new technologies to make better radiation shielding (LSU College of Science). Jacob Miller, from Crowley in Acadia Parish, is an electrical engineering major who builds new devices for medical applications (LSU College of Engineering, LSU Honors College). Katie Hostetler, from Zachary in East Baton Rouge Parish, is a graphic designer who creates art for LSU Athletics and this spring came up with the winning design for the Tiger Eye 1 mission patch; she's double-majoring in religious studies (LSU School of Art + Design, LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences).

"We're immensely proud of the LSU students leading this work on the frontier of science, technology, art, and the human imagination," said Samuel J. Bentley, vice president of research and economic development. "It's been incredible to see and support all of LSU coming together to move this mission forward. There should be no barriers to expertise, and this university-industry collaboration is a great example of how the caliber of our students and researchers can advance projects of critical importance to our nation."

"This student-led, cross-campus collaboration reinforces LSU's impact on space exploration and planetary science," added Cynthia Peterson, dean of the LSU College of Science. "As we prepare to put people on the Moon again in 2024, we must not only understand what it takes to protect our astronauts, but also what is required to perform science experiments in a space environment and safeguard the technologies needed to conduct the research."

Through its medical and health physics program and the SpaRTAN lab, LSU helps agencies and companies understand background radiation in space, one of the hard limits on how much time people and equipment can spend out there, beyond the Earth's protective magnetic field. Understanding the types and amounts of radiation that exist on the Moon will be key to establishing a sustainable human presence on Earth's nearest neighbor as well as traveling to Mars. The data brought back by Tiger Eye 1 will further the SpaRTAN lab's research on improved radiation shielding in both materials and design.

"We have models and predictions for human health risk on the Moon, but we don't yet have actual measurements of the radiation spectrum on the lunar surface," Chancellor said. "Now that we'll get real data, we can use it to validate our models, make better predictions, and increase the safety of future space travel."

Above: The phone-sized LSU radiation detection device will be mounted on the outside of Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander with no mass between itself and the surrounding environment after the lander disconnects from the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch rocket.

The IM in IM-1 stands for Intuitive Machines, a Houston-based company pioneering humanity's next step—returning the U.S. to the surface of the Moon. IM holds NASA and commercial payload contracts for two separate lunar landings (IM-1 in the first quarter of 2022 and IM-2 in the fourth quarter) to help pave the way for the Artemis program, which will put the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon as early as 2024. The CLPS flights are all uncrewed and will make use of rovers and robots to conduct science experiments and test technologies in different areas on the lunar surface.

Intuitive Machines is providing the vehicle, communication network, and mission operations center for LSU's device to safely land on the Moon and effectively conduct research. IM's Nova-C lunar lander will be launched from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The solar battery-driven vehicle will spend two weeks on the surface before succumbing to lunar night, not far from Tranquility Base where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the Moon in July 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission.

"The two main barriers for human spaceflight are propulsion—how to get there faster—and how to protect humans and equipment from radiation," said retired Colonel Jack "2fish" Fischer, astronaut and vice president of strategic programs at Intuitive Machines. "Without the shielding and radiation modeling LSU is helping to develop, the radiation effects on crews and equipment during deep space exploration would be catastrophic."

"Using Jeff Chancellor's ability to model this stuff and figure out what kind of shielding to use and where to put it, we see a future where it will be much easier and cheaper to go into space because we could open the lunar and space economy to a global supply chain," Fischer continued. "We could put commercial, off-the-shelf technology out there and lessen the dependency on expensive, overdesigned solutions. The radiation data we'll get on IM-1 will change the equation of what's possible in space."

LSU's Tiger Eye 1 mission was enabled in partnership with Geocent, a New Orleans-based company that provides solutions and talent for the space, defense, and homeland security communities. Geocent chose LSU as a research and development partner to test some of their radiation shielding, which led to an opportunity to share physical space onboard IM-1.

"Geocent and our teammates—Plasma Processes, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville—are proud to bring Geocent's ACCRES Radiation Shielding technology to the partnership with LSU and Dr. Jeff Chancellor, Intuitive Machines, and especially LSU students to work on critical research and technologies that truly advance human spaceflight and exploration," said Robert A. "Bobby" Savoie, CEO of Geocent and LSU Engineering alumni. "We're a national company but Louisiana-born, and it's thrilling to see students from several disciplines coming together to make significant contributions to an important mission. Geocent's technical strength is in its people, and we can't imagine a better way to build talent than challenging students to work together and rise to the occasion to put Tiger Eye 1 and their footprint on the Moon."

The LSU radiation detection device is currently being customized by Pellegrin and Miller who, as official project manager, also will engage LSU mechanical engineering's advanced manufacturing and machining capabilities to etch Hostetler's Tiger Eye 1 mission patch onto the physical device casing, which will occupy a space about the size of an iPhone 12.

"The most challenging thing on missions like these is working within strict limitations on mass, volume, power, bandwidth, and time, as well as communicating with and controlling devices from Earth, which means solving problems no one's solved before," Pellegrin said. "I'm super excited to be part of this mission and the knowledge and skills I've gained have already kickstarted my career. They helped me land an internship at Geocent, which is a dream come true since I want to work in space and missile systems development."

Pellegrin and Miller are also working with Advacam, a company based in the Czech Republic, on adapting radiation detection hardware (similar to a USB flash drive) that it has previously supplied for the International Space Station (ISS). But while you can bring laptops and off-the-shelf equipment to ISS to help integrate and connect such devices, that isn't possible on IM-1. Much of Miller's work on Tiger Eye 1 lies in software development and coding (and possibly some wiring and soldering) to make sure the data from the sensor "makes sense" to the device, which must be able to communicate with the main Intuitive Machines flight computer to receive time stamps, temperature readings, and other critical data. The LSU team is setting up a Tiger Eye 1 ground control center right on the main campus and hopes to be able to receive raw data as well as issue commands to the device while it is traveling through space and on the lunar surface.

"It's sort of an engineering and computer science joke, but the amount of problems we solve by turning a device off and back on again is kind of astounding," Miller said. "So, if we stop being able to communicate with the device or get weird readings, we need to be able to tell the lander to perform a power cycle to reboot our device or change other settings. Rather than just seeing a problem, we need to be able to do something about it without physically touching the device."

Earlier this year, Pellegin walked the Timepix chip the team will be using as a sensor over to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine's linear accelerator (where radiation is used to help treat animals with cancer) for initial testing.

"Most of our patients are dogs and cats, but we do treat the occasional reptile, rabbit, horse, or other pet," said Jayme Looper, director of the LSU Small Animal Hospital and its radiation oncology services. "Our recent collaboration with the LSU medical physics team to test the radiation detection device prior to its journey to the Moon is an example of a long history of intercollegiate collaboration at LSU."

Chancellor did the initial characterization of the Timepix technology in the 1990s as a master's student under advisor Larry Pinsky at the University of Houston, who did the dosimetry for the Apollo mission.

"It takes a lot of time to sort of gather all of the information about how everything communicates and the protocols everybody's following," Miller added. "It gets complicated really fast. But as an engineering student, I like the challenge of doing something that's really, truly new in just a few months. It's as scary as it's appealing, and the result is going to benefit human spaceflight for years to come."

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 50490
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-06-2023 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Redirects Intuitive Machines' First Mission to the Lunar South Pole Region

Intuitive Machines is collaborating with NASA to prioritize the return of lunar scientific data in support of the Artemis Program. As part of this joint effort, Intuitive Machines will shift the landing site of its first mission to the lunar South Pole Region in support of NASA's priority objectives.

"Redirecting Intuitive Machines' IM-1 mission landing site is a testament to our collective commitment to supporting NASA's Artemis Program and advancing lunar exploration for the benefit of humanity," said Steve Altemus, co-founder, president and CEO of Intuitive Machines. "The company is honored to accept the historic and scientific responsibility of bringing the United States to the lunar South Pole Region for the first time ever."

Intuitive Machines is working closely with its stakeholders to ensure a seamless landing site change. The landing date is currently scheduled for late June of 2023. This change is expected to positively impact Intuitive Machines' backlog. More importantly, Intuitive Machines views this as a significant win for the Artemis Program.

NASA has its sights set on locations around the South Pole Region for the Artemis era of human lunar exploration. The agency has identified the South Pole Region as one with characteristics that hold promise for unprecedented deep-space scientific discoveries, like discovering water ice on the Moon. Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lunar lander would become the first spacecraft to land on the Moon's South Pole Region.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 50490
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-25-2023 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Intuitive Machines Lunar Landing Site Moves to South Pole

NASA, in cooperation with Intuitive Machines, is moving the landing site for the first Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) mission to Moon's South Pole as an important first step in managing risks for future Artemis landings.

Above: Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lunar lander inside the company's facility at the Houston Spaceport. (Intuitive Machines)

One of the first lunar payload deliveries under NASA's CLPS initiative was awarded to Intuitive Machines in May 2019. The company's first flight, Intuitive Machines-1 (IM-1) will carry six NASA payloads on its Nova-C lunar lander to a site near the Malapert A crater. This relatively flat and safe region is within the heavily cratered southern highlands on the side of the Moon visible from Earth.

The NASA payloads will focus on demonstrating communication, navigation and precision landing technologies, and gathering scientific data about rocket plume and lunar surface interactions, as well as space weather and lunar surface interactions affecting radio astronomy. Through the CLPS initiative, NASA is supporting the development of a lunar economy by working with American companies to deliver scientific, exploration, and technology payloads to the Moon's surface and lunar orbit.

Above: The Malapert A region is seen near the top of this topographic map of the Moon's South Pole based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter. (Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility)

The decision to move from the original landing site in Oceanus Procellarum was based on a need to learn more about terrain and communications near the lunar South Pole, which is expected to be one of the best locations for a sustained human presence on the Moon. Landing near Malapert A also will help mission planners understand how to communicate and send data back to Earth from a location that is low on the lunar horizon. The landing date is expected in the third quarter of 2023.

While NASA is the primary customer purchasing lunar delivery services, CLPS vendors also work with other customers to send non-NASA payloads to the Moon. CLPS providers are responsible for managing their activities to ensure they are compliant with NASA schedule requirements. Intuitive Machines will confirm the launch date, lunar landing date, and duration of lunar surface operations, as well as updates on the thermal environment that the payloads will experience, given the temperature extremes for lunar transit and at the lunar South Pole.

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