Texas Firm Aims to Create Lunar History Today, While Australia’s Radio Telescope Reiterates History.

US-based firm, Intuitive Machines, is preparing to launch its IM-1 mission to the Moon, following the recent failed attempt by rival Pennsylvania-based company, Astrobotic. The mission, set to launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, will carry the Nova-C lunar lander to the Moon’s south pole. The successful landing, scheduled for February 22, would make Intuitive Machines the first private company to position a vehicle on the Moon’s surface.

The Nova-C lander will transport six NASA instruments as part of the mission. The venture falls under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, which encourages public-private space partnerships. The target landing site for the mission is Malapert A, a crater located approximately 300km east of the south pole. The instruments being carried on the mission will contribute to the testing and preparation for NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the Moon by the end of the decade.

Intuitive Machines is one of several partners involved in the CLPS initiative, which also includes Astrobotic, Blue Origin, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, and nine other US companies.

The IM-1 mission will utilize Intuitive Machines’ own Lunar Data Network (LDN) for communication, rather than using NASA’s global Deep Space Network of monitoring satellites. As part of this, Intuitive Machines has partnered with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to use its Murriyang radio telescope in Parkes, NSW for the mission. The Parkes radio telescope was the main receiving station for the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, and will be involved in receiving communications from the LN-1 navigation instrument, which is part of the lander’s NASA payload.

The launch window for the IM-1 mission opens at 12.57 US EST/4:57pm AEDT on Wednesday 14 February. The mission marks a significant step in commercial lunar exploration and the wider goal of returning humans to the Moon.

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