HomeTechNASA, SpaceX Launch Intuitive Machines' Moon Lander Into Space

NASA, SpaceX Launch Intuitive Machines’ Moon Lander Into Space

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SpaceX and NASA successfully launched Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander into space early Thursday morning. The lander is now its way to the surface of Earth’s Moon.

The lunar lander is a part of NASA’s Artemis project to explore and document the Moon’s surface. The Artemis program is intended to be a first step toward establishing “a sustainable presence” on the Moon, with the ultimate goal of preparing for trips to Mars, according to the space agency’s website.

The Nova-C is also a part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services project, meaning it’s carrying six different NASA instruments to the Moon to study space weather effects, the lunar surface, landing tech, and radio astronomy.

The lander will also focus on mapping and defining the surface of the Moon’s south polar region, said NASA Project Scientist Debra Needham after the launch.

Needham called the Moon’s south pole “an extremely challenging environment to operate in.”

“It’s preparing us for sending humans to the lunar surface in advance of the Artemis missions,” Needham said of the Nova-C lander’s goals.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket helped send the payload, which does not have any humans on board, into space.

NASA broadcasted the launch on X, formerly known as Twitter, in a video that’s since been viewed over 409,000 times.

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After it launched, the Nova-C separated from the Falcon 9 rocket and is now in transit to the Moon. The Nova-C is expected to land on the Moon on Feb. 22.

SpaceX has been a part of numerous space launches, from shooting Starlink satellites into Earth’s orbit to provide internet services to using its Falcon 9 rockets on NASA launches. Next month, a SpaceX rocket will send a satellite into space for the Environmental Defense Fund’s methane emissions mapping project, which is being powered by Google’s AI tools and cloud computing.

Unlike a previous SpaceX launch that was delayed earlier this month due to bad weather, Thursday morning’s launch had a 90% chance for good weather conditions.

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