Bay Area aerospace company selects SpaceX as vehicle to moon

Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lunar lander concept render.

Bay Area-based company Intuitive Machines has selected SpaceX as the company that will deliver two of its payloads to the moon, according to a Jan. 13 press release.

There are five awarded Commercial Lunar Payload Services missions to the lunar surface over the next three years. Intuitive Machines has two of the missions, and both will be launched by SpaceX, the release states.

Intuitive Machines is developing Nova-C, a lunar lander that originally was going to launch to the moon in 2021 but is now scheduled no earlier than 2022. Nova-C will deliver NASA payloads to the lunar surface, and the scientific data Nova-C gathers during its 13.5 days of life on the moon will help NASA in its mission to land humans on the moon as early as 2024, the first time since the 1970s.

“Signing with SpaceX for our IM-2 Polar Mission, our second scheduled lunar landing, is more than affordable quality lunar transport,” Intuitive Machines President and CEO Steve Altemus said in the release. “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.”

NASA awarded Intuitive Machines the company’s second payload delivery contract award Oct. 16, according to the release.

“We’re honored to launch Intuitive Machines’ important missions to the lunar surface,” SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales Tom Ochinero said in the release. “These missions, in partnership with NASA, will help further the goal of extending humanity’s reach beyond Earth.”

Intuitive Machines operates at the Houston Spaceport.

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