Tomorrow at 6:57 a.m. (Spanish time), the IM-1 mission of the American private company Intuitive will take off from the Kennedy Space Center (Florida, USA) towards the Moon, and aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Machines. If it manages to land on the moon, on February 22, it will become – this time – the first private mission to successfully land on the surface of the Earth's satellite.
Intuitive Machines has been working on this project since 2019 and is part of the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, in which the US agency contracts a commercial partner, in this case Intuitive Machines, which provides the launch and lander, for the transport of scientific material to the Moon. This program will total an investment of 2.6 billion dollars over a period of 10 years.
The objective of IM-1 is to land the NOVA-C module, called Odysseus, in the Malapert A crater, near the south pole of the Moon. This area has been chosen because its surface is essentially flat.
The ship will carry five NASA payloads and commercial cargo. The mission's scientific objectives include studies of lunar plume-surface interactions, radio astronomy, and space weather interactions with the lunar surface. It will also test different precision landing technologies and communication and navigation node capabilities.
There are also a number of commercial payloads aboard the lander, including a camera system called EagleCam, which has been developed by students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. One of the founders of Intuitive Machines, Steve Altemus, issued the challenge to build the camera during a campus visit in 2019.
The camera is designed to capture a third-person perspective of the lander as it lands on the moon. The camera itself is actually four cameras that will allow you to have a video of the moon landing.
The Odysseus is a hexagonal cylinder, 4 meters high and 1.57 meters wide, on 6 landing legs with a launch mass of 1,908 kg. It is capable of carrying approximately 100 kg of payload. It uses solar panels to generate 200W of power and propulsion and landing use liquid methane as fuel and liquid oxygen as an oxidizer that drives a main engine.