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Intuitive Machines Sets Course for Second Moon Expedition in 2024

ByHuey Yee Ong

Mar 27, 2024
Intuitive Machines Sets Course for Second Moon Expedition in 2024

Intuitive Machines Sets Course for Second Moon Expedition in 2024

Intuitive Machines is poised to embark on its second moon mission within the year, following minor adjustments to their lunar lander. During a recent earnings call, the company’s executives shared insights into the forthcoming mission, emphasizing that the changes required after the first mission have not derailed their plans for a 2024 launch.

Pioneering Lunar Exploration

Earlier this year, the company made history by being the first commercial entity to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon’s surface. Despite a bumpy landing that caused the lander to tip over, the mission, called IM-1, was an important test of the lander’s fundamental components, including its engine and systems.

This achievement has set the stage for the Nova-C lander class to make a return journey to the moon. These missions will carry important NASA equipment to explore the presence of water ice at the lunar South Pole. This exploration could have significant implications for future lunar missions, potentially aiding in rocket propulsion and supporting long-term astronaut habitats on the moon.

Steve Altemus, CEO of Intuitive Machines, reassured stakeholders that the adjustments made to the lander for the upcoming mission, known as IM-2, are minor and will not affect the launch timeline. These modifications include enhancements to the laser rangefinder switch system, a navigational tool crucial for determining the lander’s altitude and velocity.

The need for these improvements came to light during the first mission when it was discovered that the laser rangefinders had not been activated due to a missed physical switch engagement on the ground. Nevertheless, the team’s quick thinking ensured the mission’s success.

Navigating Challenges and Opportunities

The selection of the landing site for IM-2, near the Shackleton crater at the lunar south pole, is still under review by NASA. This location is of particular interest due to indications from Lunar Orbiter spacecraft data that it may harbor subsurface ice, making it a high-priority target for exploration.

Financially, Intuitive Machines concluded the fourth quarter of 2023 with $30.6 million in revenue and a modest cash balance of $4.5 million. This figure dramatically increased to nearly $55 million by March 1, following a significant investment boost, marking the highest quarter-end balance since the company’s public debut in February 2023. These financial milestones underscore the robust investor confidence in Intuitive Machines’ vision and its strategic role in lunar exploration.

The year 2024 promises to be a watershed period for the company, with critical decisions pending on NASA awards that could significantly influence its trajectory. Among these anticipated announcements are the Lunar Terrain Vehicle award and the next lunar lander contract under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. These developments could further cement Intuitive Machines’ position as a key player in the burgeoning field of commercial space exploration.

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Featured Image courtesy of Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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