Watch SpaceX’s Launch of Intuitive Machines Nova-C Moon Lander

One more month, some other day and one more attempt to reach the moon. A machine for lunar landing is supposed to be launched in the early a.m. time of Thursday, just one day after a technical error postponed the first trial. If all goes well, it will be the first American spaceship to softly land on the moon’s surface since Apollo 17 moon landing in 1972. It is also the most recent private effort to dispatch a spacecraft to the moon after earlier attempts finished failing. The company in charge of the newest effort, Intuitive Machines of Houston, has expressed optimism. “I feel fairly confident that we’re going to be successful softly touching down on the moon,” said Stephen Altemus, the President and CEO of Intuitive Machines. “We’ve done the testing. We’ve tested and tested and tested. As much testing as we could do.”

**When is the launch and how can I watch?**
Intuitive Machines lander, named Odysseus, is supposed to launch at 1:05 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX and NASA will stream coverage of the launch starting at 12:20 a.m. Eastern time. SpaceX announced late that it was postponing a launch attempt on Wednesday morning due to a technical error regarding the temperature of methane fuel for the lander. If another technical problem or bad weather delays the launch, SpaceX can try again on Friday.

**When and where is the landing?**
The landing will be on Feb. 22 near a crater named Malapert A. Odysseus will enter orbit around the moon about 24 hours before the landing attempt. The landing site, about 185 miles from the south pole on the near side of the moon, is relatively flat, an easier location for a spacecraft to land.

**How big is the spacecraft?**
Intuitive Machines calls its spacecraft design Nova-C and named this particular lander Odysseus. At launch, with a full load of propellant, the lander weighs about 4,200 pounds.

**What is going to the moon?**
NASA is paying the company $118 million to deliver its payloads. NASA is also spending an additional $11 million to develop and build the six instruments on the flight. The lander is also carrying a few other payloads, including a camera built by students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a precursor instrument for a future moon telescope and an art project by Jeff Koons.

**Wasn’t there just another American spacecraft headed to the moon?**
On Jan. 8, Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine lander was launched toward the moon but a malfunction with its propulsion system prevented any possibility of landing. Both Odysseus and Peregrine are part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, or CLPS.

“We’ve always viewed these initial CLPS deliveries as being kind of a learning experience,” said Joel Kearns, the deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s science mission directorate. The space agency hopes this approach will be cheaper, allowing it to send more missions more frequently.


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