WASHINGTON — SpaceX secured contracts Jan. 13 for the launches of a commercial lunar lander mission backed by NASA as well as a privately funded satellite to track methane emissions.
Intuitive Machines announced that it selected SpaceX for the launch of its IM-2 lunar lander mission on a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than 2022. IM-2 will land in the south polar region of the moon carrying payloads arranged through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program in October.
The IM-2 mission will fly a drilling experiment called Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment 1 (PRIME-1), which will look for water ice below the lunar surface. Intuitive Machines said that, besides the PRIME-1 drill, two other NASA technology payloads will fly on the lander.
Intuitive Machines also selected SpaceX for its first lander mission, IM-1. That spacecraft is scheduled to launch later this year as one of the first two CLPS lander missions. Both missions will use a lander design called Nova-C.
“Launching Nova-C on a rocket with a proven record of reliability and outstanding value is an assurance to NASA and our commercial payload customers that IM is dedicated to sticking the landing in back-to-back moon missions,” Steve ...