SpaceX Falcon To Launch Private Moon Lander In 2021

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SpaceX will mark the first private space company to launch its mission to the Moon. The lunar lander, called Nova-C, is built by Intuitive Machines, based out of Houston. In 2021, with the sponsorship of NASA, the Nova-C will sit atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and take off to the Moon.

SpaceX Falcon To Launch Private Moon Lander

 

SpaceX, Intuitive Machines Plan Lunar Mission

SpaceX and Intuitive Machines are excited about the new space mission. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement: "Our partnership with Intuitive Machines is a great example of two private companies working together with NASA to advance space exploration."

According to the company, Nova-C can carry at least 100 kilograms of cargo to any spot on the lunar surface. The 2021 lunar mission will have the Moon lander carry five NASA CLPS payloads and will beam data home for 13.5 Earth days. Additionally, Intuitive Machines will add some more payloads from other private customers to complete the Nova-C's cargo manifest.

SpaceX Falcon To Launch Private Moon Lander

NASA Supports Private Space Missions

NASA is playing an important role in aiding this mission. Earlier this year, NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS) program recognized Intuitive Machines to develop, launch, and land the Nova-C lander on the lunar surface. NASA will also support instruments that will conduct scientific investigations and demonstrate advanced technologies on the lunar surface. Under the CLPS program, Intuitive Machines was awarded $77 million.

 

Other Players In Private Space Mission

NASA had extended its CLPS deal to other private space companies such as Orbit Beyond and Astrobotic. Orbit Beyond is based out of New Jersey and was planning to launch its Z-01 lander in September 2020. But NASA backed out of the CLPS deal in July as such an ambitious timeline is hard to meet.

On the other hand, Astrobotic is working on launching its Peregrine lander around the same time as the Nova-C takes flight for the first time. But the Peregrine lander will be flying on a different rocket, namely the Vulcan Centaur, which is also still under development.

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