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Intuitive Machines sets Valentine’s Day launch date for next US moon lander

Published Feb 6th, 2024 2:55PM EST
IM-1 mission lander, Nova C
Image: Intuitive Machines

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This year has not been a good one for moon landers. Not only did the last US attempt to put a lander on the moon go horribly wrong for Peregrine, but Japan’s moon sniper also encountered its own problems despite touching down on the surface. Now, Intuitive Machines has shared its plans for an upcoming IM-1 launch date, and it is set for February 14.

Valentine’s Day is notably a bit of a divisive day for a lot of reasons. But, if we can all agree on one thing this year, let’s give IM-1 as much energy as we can. The space community could really use a win right now. The lander is slated to launch between February 14 and February 16, with a total of a three-day launch window (via SpaceNews).

Whether or not the IM-1 launch date proves true, though, remains to be seen. While the lander is ready to make its trek to the moon, Intuitive Machines says it still needs to go through a wet dress rehearsal, which is where they practice fueling up the spacecraft on the pad and ensure there aren’t any kind of issues with the fueling system.

moon surface, moon dustImage source: helen_f / Adobe

If that rehearsal goes as planned, and the weather holds up, then the IM-1 launch date will happen within that three-day window. Any launch during that time should put the lander in position for a landing attempt on February 22, the company says. The IM-1 launch was previously delayed back in December, so the company is likely holding its breath and hoping that things work out this time around.

IM-1, which is made up of a 675-kilogram lander called Odysseus, is currently carrying six payloads for NASA, as well as six commercial payloads that range from companies like Columbia to artists like Jeff Koons. One of the payloads, Eaglecam, will eject during the final descent and attempt to photograph the landing.

If IM-1 is able to successfully land on the moon, it will become the first private mission to land softly on the moon’s surface. The past three attempts have failed drastically, including Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander earlier this year.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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