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Yet another lunar lander launch just got delayed

Published Dec 20th, 2023 12:52PM EST
IM-1 mission lander, Nova C
Image: Intuitive Machines

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Earlier this month, I reported on how Astrobiotic had delayed the launch of its iconic Peregrine lander from a December launch to sometime in January of 2024. Now, it seems another exciting lunar mission has hit a delay, and Intuitive Machines announced the delay of its IM-1 launch from January to sometime in February.

The Houston-based company originally planned to launch IM-1 sometime between January 12 and 16, according to Spacenews.com. However, the mission has now seen a delay, with Intuitive Machines citing unfavorable weather conditions that resulted in shifts to the SpaceX launch manifest.

The IM-1 mission will launch atop a Falcon 9, and it was set to launch from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Unfortunately, this is the only pad that has the liquid oxygen and methane propellants needed to fuel the lander before it launches. As such, any resulting delays to the other launches planned for that pad inadvertently affect IM-1.

It’s likely that the recent delay of the U.S. Space Force’s X-37B space plane launch played some part. That launch was originally slated for earlier this month but is now set to take place no earlier than the end of the month instead. The delay to IM-1’s initial launch isn’t going to be a huge issue by any means. However, the company had originally hoped to launch the lander by mid-November.

Now, it seems we’ll be waiting until well into 2024 to see what the Nova-C lander has to show off. Unfortunately, Intuitive Machines hasn’t shared an exact date that it hopes to hit for its next launch window. Instead, it said that it is currently targeting a window that opens no earlier than mid-February of 2024 on X (formerly Twitter).

This should hopefully give SpaceX time to launch the X-37B, and then get the pad transitioned and ready for another Falcon 9 launch with the lander atop it.

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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