Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

Post Reply
Message
Author
PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#1 Post by PHXPhlyer » Fri Jan 05, 2024 7:47 pm

2 companies will attempt the first US moon landings since Apollo
NASA is supporting an effort to kick-start commercial moon deliveries, as the space agency focuses on getting astronauts back there.

https://www.abc15.com/2-companies-will- ... nce-apollo

China and India scored moon landings, while Russia, Japan and Israel ended up in the lunar trash heap.

Now two private companies are hustling to get the U.S. back in the game, more than five decades after the Apollo program ended.

It’s part of a NASA-supported effort to kick-start commercial moon deliveries, as the space agency focuses on getting astronauts back there.

“They’re scouts going to the moon ahead of us," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology is up first with a planned liftoff of a lander Monday aboard a brand new rocket, United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan. Houston's Intuitive Machines aims to launch a lander in mid-February, hopping a flight with SpaceX.

Then there's Japan, which will attempt to land in two weeks. The Japanese Space Agency’s lander with two toy-size rovers had a big head start, sharing a September launch with an X-ray telescope that stayed behind in orbit around Earth.

If successful, Japan will become the fifth country to pull off a lunar landing. Russia and the U.S. did it repeatedly in the 1960s and 70s. China has landed three times in the past decade — including on the moon’s far side — and is returning to the far side later this year to bring back lunar samples. And just last summer, India did it. Only the U.S. has put astronauts on the moon.

Landing without wrecking is no easy feat. There's hardly any atmosphere to slow spacecraft, and parachutes obviously won't work. That means a lander must descend using thrusters, while navigating past treacherous cliffs and craters.

A Japanese millionaire’s company, ispace, saw its lander smash into the moon last April, followed by Russia’s crash landing in August. India triumphed a few days later near the south polar region; it was the country’s second try after crashing in 2019. An Israeli nonprofit also slammed into the moon in 2019.

The United States has not attempted a moon landing since Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, the last of 12 moonwalkers, explored the gray, dusty surface in December 1972. Mars beckoned and the moon receded in NASA's rearview mirror, as the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union came to a close. The U.S. followed with a handful or two of lunar satellites, but no controlled landers — until now.

Not only are Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines looking to end America’s moon-landing drought, they’re vying for bragging rights as the first private entity to land — gently — on the moon.

Despite its later start, Intuitive Machines has a faster, more direct shot and should land within a week of liftoff. It will take Astrobotic two weeks just to get to the moon and another month in lunar orbit before a landing is attempted on Feb. 23.

If there are rocket delays, which already have stalled both missions, either company could wind up there first.

“It’s going to be a wild, wild ride,” promised Astrobotic’s chief executive John Thornton.

His counterpart at Intuitive Machines, Steve Altemus, said the space race is "more about the geopolitics, where China is going, where the rest of the world’s going.” That said, “We sure would like to be first.”

The two companies have been nose to nose since receiving nearly $80 million each in 2019 under a NASA program to develop lunar delivery services. Fourteen companies are now under contract by NASA.

Astrobotic’s four-legged, 6-foot-tall (1.9-meter-tall) lander, named Peregrine after the fastest bird, a falcon, will carry 20 research packages to the moon for seven countries, including five for NASA and a shoebox-sized rover for Carnegie Mellon University. Peregrine will aim for the mid-latitudes' Sinus Viscositatis, or Bay of Stickiness, named after the long-ago silica magma that formed the nearby Gruithuisen Domes.

Intuitive Machines’ six-legged, 14-foot-tall (4-meter-tall) lander, Nova-C, will target the moon’s south polar region, also carrying five experiments for NASA that will last about two weeks. The company is targeting 80 degrees south latitude for touchdown. That would be well within Antarctica on Earth, Altemus noted, and 10 degrees closer to the pole than India landed last summer.

Scientists believe the south pole’s permanently shadowed craters hold billions of pounds of frozen water that could be used for drinking and making rocket fuel. That’s why the first moonwalkers in NASA’s Artemis program — named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology — will land there. NASA still has 2025 on the books for that launch, but the General Accountability Office suspects it will be closer to 2027.

Astrobotic will head to the south pole on its second flight, carrying NASA’s water-seeking Viper rover. And Intuitive Machines will return there on its second mission, delivering an ice drill for NASA.

Landing near the moon’s south pole is particularly dicey.

“It’s so rocky and craggy and full of craters at the south pole and mountainous, that it’s very difficult to find a lighted region to touch down safely," Altemus said. "So you’ve got to be able to finesse that and just set it down right in the right spot.”

While Houston has long been associated with space, Pittsburgh is a newcomer. To commemorate the Steel City, Astrobotic’s lander will carry a Kennywood amusement park token, the winner of a public vote that beat out the Steelers’ Terrible Towel waved at football games, dirt from Moon Township’s Moon Park, and a Heinz pickle pin.

The lander is also carrying the ashes or DNA from 70 people, including “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Another 265 people will be represented on the rocket’s upper stage, which will circle the sun once separated from the lander. They include three original “Star Trek” cast members, as well as strands of hair from three U.S. presidents: George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

https://www.astrobotic.com/

https://www.intuitivemachines.com/

PP

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#2 Post by PHXPhlyer » Mon Jan 08, 2024 2:39 pm

First U.S. lunar lander in more than 50 years rockets toward moon with commercial deliveries
The Vulcan streaked through the Florida predawn sky and should attempt a moon landing on Feb. 23.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/fi ... rcna132790

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first U.S. lunar lander in more than 50 years rocketed toward the moon Monday, launching private companies on a space race to make deliveries for NASA and other customers.

Astrobotic Technology’s lander caught a ride on a brand new rocket, United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan. The Vulcan streaked through the Florida predawn sky, putting the spacecraft on a roundabout route to the moon that should culminate with an attempted landing on Feb. 23.

The Pittsburgh company aims to be the first private business to successfully land on the moon, something only four countries have accomplished. But a Houston company also has a lander ready to fly, and could beat it to the lunar surface, taking a more direct path.

“First to launch. First to land is TBD,” to be determined, said Astrobotic chief executive John Thornton.

NASA gave the two companies millions to build and fly their own lunar landers. The space agency wants the privately owned landers to scope out the place before astronauts arrive while delivering NASA tech and science experiments as well as odds and ends for other customers. Astrobotic’s contract for the Peregrine lander: $108 million.

The last time the U.S. launched a moon-landing mission was in December 1972. Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt became the 11th and 12th men to walk on the moon, closing out an era that has remained NASA’s pinnacle.

The space agency’s new Artemis program — named after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology — looks to return astronauts to the moon’s surface within the next few years. First will be a lunar fly-around with four astronauts, possibly before the end of the year.

Highlighting Monday’s moonshot was the long-delayed initial test flight of the Vulcan rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The 202-foot (61-meter) rocket is essentially an upgraded version of ULA’s hugely successful workhorse Atlas V, which is being phased out along with the company’s Delta IV. Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, provided the Vulcan’s two main engines.

The mission, called Cert-1, will also carry on board the cremated remains of several people associated with the original "Star Trek" series, including creator Gene Roddenberry and cast member Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed the character Uhura.

The Soviet Union and the U.S. racked up a string of successful moon landings in the 1960s and 70s, before putting touchdowns on pause. China joined the elite club in 2013 and India in 2023. But last year also saw landers from Russia and a private Japanese company slam into the moon. An Israeli nonprofit crashed in 2019.

Next month, SpaceX will provide the lift for a lander from Intuitive Machines. The Nova-C lander’s more direct one-week route could see both spacecraft attempting to land within days or even hours of one another.

The hourlong descent to the lunar surface — by far the biggest challenge — will be “exciting, nail-biting, terrifying all at once,” said Thornton.

Besides flying experiments for NASA, Astrobotic drummed up its own freight business, packing the 6-foot-tall (1.9-meter-tall) Peregrine lander with everything from a chip of rock from Mount Everest and toy-size cars from Mexico that will catapult to the lunar surface and cruise around, to the ashes and DNA of deceased space enthusiasts, including “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke.

The Navajo Nation recently sought to have the launch delayed because of the human remains. saying it would be a “profound desecration” of a celestial body revered by Native Americans. Thornton said the December objections came too late but promised to try to find “a good path forward” with the Navajo for future missions.

One of the spaceflight memorial companies that bought room on the lander, Celestis, said in a statement that no single culture or religion owns the moon and should not be able to veto a mission. More remains are on the rocket’s upper stage, which, once free of the lander, will indefinitely circle the sun as far out as Mars.

Cargo fares for Peregrine ranged from a few hundred dollars to $1.2 million per kilogram (2.2 pounds), not nearly enough for Astrobotic to break even. But for this first flight, that’s not the point, according to Thornton.

“A lot of people’s dreams and hopes are riding on this,” he said.

PP

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#3 Post by PHXPhlyer » Tue Jan 09, 2024 3:27 pm

Peregrine mission abandons moon landing attempt after suffering ‘critical’ fuel loss

https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/08/world/pe ... index.html

Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance's next-generation Vulcan rocket launches on its debut flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. January 8, 2024. REUTERS/Joe Skipper


Astrobotic Technology, the company that developed the first lunar lander to launch from the United States in five decades, said it is abandoning an attempt to put its Peregrine spacecraft on the moon less than 24 hours after the vehicle took flight.

The spacecraft has suffered “critical” propellant loss from a fuel leak, according to the company.

Just hours after the vehicle launched from Florida toward the moon early Monday morning, Astrobotic announced the mission was in jeopardy. The lunar lander, dubbed Peregrine, was unable to place itself in a position facing the sun, likely because of a propulsion issue, according to Astrobotic. That wayward orientation prevented the spacecraft from charging its batteries.

The battery issue was later resolved, but Astrobotic was not able to correct the apparent issue with the Peregrine lander’s propulsion system.

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 15: NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft stands on launch pad 39B as final preparations are made for the Artemis I mission at the Kennedy Space Center on November 15, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA is making its third attempt to launch the unmanned Artemis I mission to the moon following a series of technical and weather delays. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
First on CNN: NASA expected to announce ‘months-long delay’ for crewed Artemis moon mission
In a statement late Monday evening, the company said a fuel leak is causing the thrusters of Peregrine lander’s attitude control system — which are designed to precisely align the 6-foot-tall box-shaped lander while in space — have had to “operate well beyond their expected service life cycles to keep the lander from an uncontrollable tumble.”

Astrobotic added that the thrusters could likely only operate for 40 more hours at most.

“At this time, the goal is to get Peregrine as close to lunar distance as we can before it loses the ability to maintain its sun-pointing position and subsequently loses power,” according to the company.

That means a potential moon landing, which had been slated for February 23, is off the table.

Astrobotic had already warned just after 1 p.m. ET that a “failure within the propulsion system” was draining the vehicle’s fuel. But the company worked for hours Monday to attempt to stabilize the issue and assess options.

At one point Monday afternoon, Astrobotic also shared the first image of the Peregrine lander in space. The photograph showed that the outer layers of insulation on the vehicle were crinkled.

(1/4) We've received the first image from Peregrine in space! The camera utilized is mounted atop a payload deck and shows Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) in the foreground.
Astrobotic Technology, the company that developed the Peregrine lunar lander, shared the first image of the lander in space on January 8, 2024. The image was captured by a camera mounted atop a payload deck and shows Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) on the exterior of the Peregrine lander in the foreground.
The distorted material was “the first visual clue that aligns with our telemetry data pointing to a propulsion system anomaly,” the company said in a post on the social media platform X at 4:12 p.m. ET on Monday.

From launch to a lunar trajectory
The lunar lander, called Peregrine after the fastest bird in the world, appeared to have a wholly successful first leg of its trip after lifting off at 2:18 a.m. ET atop a Vulcan Centaur rocket developed by the joint Lockheed Martin and Boeing venture United Launch Alliance.

It was the first ever flight of a Vulcan Centaur rocket, a new vehicle from ULA designed to replace its older lineup of rockets.

Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance's next-generation Vulcan rocket launches on its debut flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. January 8, 2024. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
First US moon landing mission in decades launches with NASA science, humans remains on board
The company confirmed just after 3 a.m. ET that the Vulcan Centaur performed as expected, delivering the Peregrine lunar lander into a trans-lunar injection orbit, according to ULA. That involves a precisely timed engine burn that pushed the Peregrine lander onto a path in Earth’s orbit that should allow it to sync up with the moon some 384,400 kilometers (238,855 miles) away.

The Peregrine lander was then expected to fire up its own onboard thrusters, using up to three maneuvers to pinpoint its path.

In a statement, Astrobotic said that Peregrine successfully began communicating with NASA’s Deep Space Network, activated its avionics systems, and “the thermal, propulsion, and power controllers, all powered on and performed as expected.”

“After successful propulsion systems activation, Peregrine entered a safe operational state,” the company said.

It was after that, however, that the Peregrine lander experienced the “anomaly” that left the vehicle pointed away from the sun and unable to charge its battery.

Mission controllers then “developed and executed an improvised maneuver to reorient the solar panels toward the Sun,” according to Astrobotic.

They accomplished that goal.

“The team’s improvised maneuver was successful in reorienting Peregrine’s solar array towards the Sun. We are now charging the battery,” the company said in an update posted at 12:34 p.m. ET.

Still, Astrobotic said it must correct the underlying propulsion issue. The spacecraft would need to use its onboard thrusters — and have enough propellant left over — to make a soft touchdown on the moon.

Peregrine mission stakes
Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic Technology developed Peregrine under a $108 million contract with NASA. The vehicle was designed from the outset to be relatively cheap — aiming to fulfill NASA’s vision to reduce the cost of putting a robotic lander on the moon by asking the private sector to compete for such contracts.

Astrobotic CEO John Thornton told CNN on January 2 that he viewed this first launch as a test mission.

“This really is like a 50-50 shots on goal kind of an approach — where it’s really more about the industry succeeding, not any specific one mission,” Thornton said.

Astrobotic's Peregrine lunar lander is encapsulated with Ula's Vulcan rocket.

Joel Kearns, the deputy associate administrator for exploration at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, issued a statement Monday, saying, “Each success and setback are opportunities to learn and grow. We will use this lesson to propel our efforts to advance science, exploration, and commercial development of the Moon.”

Thornton, who previously said that this Peregrine mission cost Astrobotic more money than it made, also remarked to CNN what it would mean for the company if this mission failed.

“It’s certainly going to have some some impact on our relationships and our ability to to secure additional missions in the future,” Thornton said. “It certainly wouldn’t be the end of the business, but it would certainly be challenging.”

Abandoning its lunar landing attempt marks a major loss not only for Astrobotic, but also for NASA and other countries and institutions with payloads aboard the Peregrine lander.

The company will not be able to test a landing maneuver, which — in previous lunar landing attempts made by various countries and corporations — has proven an exceedingly difficult step in the journey.

On board the Peregrine vehicle are five scientific instruments from NASA and 15 other payloads from a variety of organizations and countries. The commercial payloads on the lander include mementos and even human remains that customers had paid to send to the lunar surface.

PP

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#4 Post by PHXPhlyer » Wed Jan 17, 2024 4:45 am

Ailing Peregrine moon lander on path to crash into Earth, Astrobotic says
Peregrine will likely burn up in Earth's atmosphere, the moon lander's builder said.

https://www.space.com/astrobotic-peregr ... SmartBrief

The beleaguered private moon lander Peregrine, which suffered a fuel leak shortly after its launch last week, is now on a collision course with Earth, its builder said Saturday (Jan. 13).

Peregrine launched toward the moon on Jan. 8 atop a United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket, but suffered a critical fuel leak shortly after separating from the booster. That loss of fuel doomed Peregrine's chances to soft-land on the moon next month, according to its builder Astrobotic. While the company has been fighting to keep the lander alive as long as possible, the probe's days are definitely numbered due to its trajectory, Astrobotic said.

"Our analysis efforts have been challenging due to the propellant leak, which have been adding uncertainty to predictions of the vehicle's trajectory," Astrobotic wrote in an update on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday. "Our latest assessment now shows the spacecraft is on a path towards Earth, where it will likely burn up in Earth's atmosphere."

Astrobotic did not include an expected date for when Peregrine could slam into Earth's atmosphere, though the Pittsburgh-based company's engineers continue work to salvage the spacecraft.

"The team is currently assessing options and we will update as soon as we are able," Astrobotic wrote in the update. On Sunday, Peregrine was about 242,000 miles (389,000 kilometers) from Earth, just beyond the orbit of the moon, which circles Earth at about 238,000 miles (384,400 km).

A diagram of a private moon lander's trip to lunar distance and the location of the moon at

Astrobotic's private Peregrine moon lander reached the distance of the moon on Jan. 12, 2024 as engineers fight for its survival, though the moon was at a different part of its orbit. (Image credit: Astrobotic)

Astrobotic's Peregrine lander is the first U.S. private moon lander ever to launch and the first to carry NASA experiments and commercial payloads to the moon, as well as the first mission to fly under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payloads Services program. It is carrying five NASA experiments and 15 other payloads for a variety of customers, including human remains intended for a moon burial for the companies Celestis and Elysium Space.

The Peregrine lander was slated to attempt its moon landing on Feb. 23, but the fuel leak made that impossible, Astrobotic said as the situation developed. In recent days, the leak has slowed, allowing engineers to extend its life.

"The propellant leak has slowed considerably to a point where it is no longer the team's top priority," Astrobotic said in its update, adding that a soft moon landing was still not possible.

Astrobotic officials and NASA are expected to hold a press conference on Thursday (Jan. 18) to discuss the mission's status.

PP

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#5 Post by PHXPhlyer » Fri Jan 19, 2024 2:22 am

Peregrine, aiming to be first private lunar lander, burns up in Earth's atmosphere
An early malfunction left the Peregrine lander with no way to reach the moon.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/p ... rcna134150

After languishing in space for more than a week, a doomed moon lander met a fiery end Thursday, burning up in Earth’s atmosphere to end its mission.

The privately built spacecraft, named Peregrine, was designed to journey to the moon and settle on the lunar surface. But shortly after launching into orbit Jan. 8, the lander suffered a critical propellant leak that forced its operators to scrap the entire mission.

Astrobotic Technology, a Pittsburgh-based company that developed the lander, said Thursday that the hobbled spacecraft safely burned up in Earth’s atmosphere around 4:04 p.m. ET over a remote stretch of the South Pacific Ocean.

In an update posted on X, the company confirmed that it lost contact with the spacecraft shortly before 4 p.m. ET, indicating that the lander did re-enter the atmosphere, but added that officials “await independent confirmation from government entities.”


An early malfunction had left the Peregrine lander with no way to reach the moon. Astrobotic’s team spent nine days fighting to save the spacecraft and its onboard instruments and to stretch out what remained of the mission.

Though engineers were able to stabilize the spacecraft, Astrobotic said last week that it was not possible to attempt a controlled landing on the moon.


“We commend @Astrobotic for their perseverance,” NASA said Tuesday in a statement posted on X.

The Peregrine mission was closely watched because it was the first U.S. lunar lander to launch into space in more than 50 years. Had it been successful, Peregrine would have also become the first commercially developed spacecraft to land on the moon.

In addition to NASA, only the former Soviet Union, China and India have successfully carried out controlled, or “soft,” landings on the moon. Japan is looking to join that elite club with an attempted landing Friday of the country’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, probe.

The Peregrine mission was part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which was set up to spur development of new moon landers by private sector companies that NASA can eventually hire to transport cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface.

A separate Houston-based company, Intuitive Machines, is expected to launch its own lander, commercially developed as part of the same NASA initiative, to the moon next month.

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services program is part of the agency’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the moon over the next few years, with the goal of eventually launching regular flights to the moon and building a lunar base camp. NASA recently announced delays to a pair of upcoming Artemis missions, pushing a lunar fly-around that was to launch later this year to 2025, and postponing the first Artemis landing attempt to the following year.

PP

Boac
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 17387
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:12 pm
Location: Here

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#6 Post by Boac » Fri Jan 19, 2024 9:16 am

Astrobotic should be congratulated on the achievement of precise re-entry for the craft given the propulsion problems they had.

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#7 Post by PHXPhlyer » Mon Feb 12, 2024 10:15 pm

Just one month after failed mission, a second US lunar lander is ready to make an attempt

https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/12/world/od ... index.html

After a failed lunar landing mission last month, NASA is pinning its hopes on a second spacecraft — developed by a separate company — to make the first touchdown on the moon for the United States in more than five decades.

The lunar lander, nicknamed Odysseus, or Odie for short, is set to take flight atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 12:57 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

The rocket will propel the spacecraft into an oval-shaped orbit extending out to 380,000 kilometers (236,100 miles) around Earth. It will amount to “a high-energy fastball pitch towards the moon,” as Intuitive Machines CEO Stephen Altemus put it. His Houston-based company developed Odysseus.

Once in Earth’s orbit, the lunar lander will separate from the rocket and begin venturing on its own, using an onboard engine to boost itself on a direct trajectory toward the lunar surface.

Odysseus is expected to spend a little more than a week free flying through space, with an attempt to touch down on the lunar surface expected February 22.

If successful, Odysseus would become the first US spacecraft to make a soft landing on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Why the Odysseus mission matters
The launch of this lunar lander comes one month after Peregrine, a vehicle that Astrobotic Technology developed with NASA funding, failed on its mission. The Pittsburgh-based company revealed a goal-shattering fuel leak just hours after Peregrine launched on January 8. The spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere as it careened back toward Earth 10 days later.

A brand new rocket, United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on January 8, 2024, carrying Astrobotic's Peregrine lunar lander.

But NASA has sponsored the creation of a small fleet of privately developed lunar landers as part of a program the space agency calls CLPS, or Commercial Lunar Payload Services.

“In CLPS, American companies used their own engineering and manufacturing practices instead of adherence to formal and traditional NASA procedures and NASA oversight,” explained Joel Kearns, the space agency’s deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “CLPS is a test of that philosophy.”

The program’s aim is to develop lunar landers under relatively cheap, fixed-price contracts, in the hopes of using the spacecraft to give the US a presence on the moon as a new international space race heats up.

China, India and Japan are the only nations to have soft-landed vehicles on the moon in the 21st century. And while NASA remains confident the US will be the first country to return humans to the lunar surface, the global rush to plant robotic spacecraft on the moon is reaching a fever pitch.

What separates NASA’s approach from others is the way it has embraced commercialization — the idea that multiple spacecraft can be developed more cheaply and quickly with private industry competing for contracts than if the space agency were to develop its own.

Intuitive Machines’ Altemus calls this strategy “forced innovation.”

“Companies had to think of ways to balance the risk (and) think of ways of getting around technical problems in a rapid amount of time with less dollars to spend,” he told CNN. “So it really drove down — from the start — the cost of lunar access, so that it can be done … cheaper than what had been done historically in the Apollo days.”

All told, Intuitive Machines could receive up to $118 million from NASA for this mission.

A stable of lunar landers
The NASA CLPS program does not hinge on every mission making a safe touchdown, but these first landing attempts could set the tone and pace for the space agency’s renewed efforts to explore the moon robotically before trying to return astronauts to the lunar surface later this decade.

Founded in 2013, Intuitive Machines will be the second of the CLPS program participants — after Astrobotic — to attempt a moon landing. (Two additional CLPS missions are planned for later in 2024.)

Of the four companies slated to deliver lunar landers to the moon under the CLPS program, Intuitive Machines has the most orders from NASA — with three moon missions on the books.

What’s on board
The Odysseus lander is a model called Nova-C, which Intuitive Machines describes as roughly the size of a British telephone booth with legs attached.

The company aims to land the spacecraft near the moon’s south pole, an area of high interest in the space race. This region is suspected to be home to water ice that could one day be converted into drinking water for astronauts or even rocket fuel.

The south pole is also the same lunar region where NASA is seeking to land astronauts later this decade.

The lander will be equipped with six NASA payloads — an array of scientific instruments designed to test new technology or evaluate the lunar environment, such as a study of how the moon’s soil behaves during landing.

Also on board will be commemorative objects — including a sculpture representing the moon phases designed in consultation with Jeff Koons — and technology from private-sector companies, including Columbia Sportswear, which developed insulation material for the lander.

If all goes according to plan, Odysseus will spend seven days operating on the moon as the lunar lander basks in the sun. But as the landing zone moves into Earth’s shadow, experiencing lunar night, the spacecraft will be put to sleep.

The odds of success
The past year has brought a couple successful lunar touchdowns — pulled off by India and Japan — as well as brutal setbacks, with Russia and the United States losing spacecraft in recent attempts.

Altemus estimates that Intuitive Machines has about an 80% chance of safely landing Odysseus on the moon.

“We’ve stood on the shoulders of everybody who’s tried before us,” he said, adding that Intuitive Machines attempted to analyze the propulsion issue that plagued the Peregrine lander last month and ensured the same problem would not arise during Odysseus’ mission.

“We just have a fundamentally different architecture,” Altemus added.

But a successful attempt would mark only a starting point, he said.

“It’s not a one-and-done operation at all,” Altemus said. “We built a lunar program for the purpose of flying regularly to the moon.”

Establishing programs that can make regular robotic trips to the moon could facilitate a future in which lunar travel is common, inexpensive and fuels grander projects, such as a functioning lunar base with astronauts living and working there, according to vision laid out by NASA and its partners.

PP

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#8 Post by PHXPhlyer » Wed Feb 14, 2024 1:57 am

'Odysseus' to launch in bid to become first private lander on the moon
Intuitive Machines’ spacecraft, nicknamed Odysseus, is scheduled to lift off early Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/o ... rcna138394

A Houston-based company is set to launch a spacecraft to the moon early Wednesday in a bid to become the first to land a commercially built probe on the lunar surface.

Intuitive Machines’ spacecraft, nicknamed Odysseus, is scheduled to lift off at 12:57 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The lander will hitch a ride into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

If all goes according to plan, Odysseus will spend the next eight days in space before it touches down on the moon on Feb. 22. The event would be the first landing on the moon for the U.S. in more than 50 years.

A separate company tried — but ultimately failed — a month ago to accomplish the same feat. That lander, built by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, suffered a catastrophic fuel leak shortly after launch, which forced its operators to scrap the entire mission.

Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines are part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which aims to spur development of moon landers by private-sector companies that NASA could eventually hire to transport cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface.

On the coming flight, the lander will carry a mix of commercial cargo and NASA science instruments.

Odysseus is expected to touch down near the moon's south pole, a region that has long been intriguing for scientists because water ice is thought to be relatively abundant within craters.

NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program is part of the agency’s Artemis program, which seeks to return astronauts to the moon over the next few years. NASA recently announced delays in a pair of coming Artemis missions, pushing a lunar fly-around that was to launch later this year to 2025 and postponing the first Artemis landing attempt to the following year.

NASA wants to eventually launch regular missions to the moon to build a base camp.

PP

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#9 Post by PHXPhlyer » Wed Feb 14, 2024 4:36 pm

'Odysseus' postpones mission to become first private lander on the moon
Intuitive Machines’ spacecraft, nicknamed Odysseus, was scheduled to lift off early Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/o ... rcna138394

A Houston-based company's planned launch of a spacecraft to the moon in a bid to become the first to land a commercially built probe on the lunar surface has been postponed.

Intuitive Machines’ spacecraft, nicknamed Odysseus, was scheduled to lift off Wednesday at 12:57 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, the launch was postponed due to "off-nominal methane temperatures prior to stepping into methane load," NASA announced shortly before launch time.

A new launch date is being targeted for Thursday at 1:05 a.m. ET.

The lander will hitch a ride into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Odysseus was originally set to spend the next eight days in space before it touched down on the moon on Feb. 22. The event would be the first landing on the moon for the U.S. in more than 50 years.

A separate company tried — but ultimately failed — a month ago to accomplish the same feat. That lander, built by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, suffered a catastrophic fuel leak shortly after launch, which forced its operators to scrap the entire mission.

Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines are part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which aims to spur development of moon landers by private-sector companies that NASA could eventually hire to transport cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface.

On the coming flight, the lander will carry a mix of commercial cargo and NASA science instruments.

Odysseus is expected to touch down near the moon's south pole, a region that has long been intriguing for scientists because water ice is thought to be relatively abundant within craters.

NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program is part of the agency’s Artemis program, which seeks to return astronauts to the moon over the next few years. NASA recently announced delays in a pair of coming Artemis missions, pushing a lunar fly-around that was to launch later this year to 2025 and postponing the first Artemis landing attempt to the following year.

NASA wants to eventually launch regular missions to the moon to build a base camp.

PP

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#10 Post by PHXPhlyer » Thu Feb 22, 2024 6:05 pm

Privately built lunar lander aims to be first to touch down on moon
The Odysseus is scheduled to land near the moon's south pole on Thursday in a major step for private space exploration.


https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/m ... rcna139580

A robotic spacecraft will attempt a historic landing on the moon Thursday, aiming to become the first privately built craft to touch down on the lunar surface, as well as the first American vehicle to accomplish the feat in more than 50 years.

The lander, built by Intuitive Machines, is expected to touch down on the lunar surface at 4:24 p.m. ET, earlier than the Houston-based company initially estimated earlier this week. If successful, the lander will be the first American spacecraft on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander, nicknamed Odysseus, launched into space on Feb. 15 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The 14-foot-tall lander then spent six days cruising more than 620,000 miles to reach the moon.

The landing attempt will be livestreamed on NASA TV, beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which the space agency set up to support development of moon landers by private-sector companies. NASA eventually plans to hire these companies to transport cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface as part of the agency’s broader ambitions to return astronauts to the moon.

NASA awarded Intuitive Machines $118 million to carry out the moon landing.

Last month, a separate company tried but failed to send a lander to the moon under the same NASA program. That spacecraft, built by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, suffered a crippling malfunction shortly after launch that forced the company to scrap the entire mission.

Intuitive Machines said Wednesday on X that the Odysseus lander “continues to be in excellent health,” adding that the landing attempt will be the spacecraft’s “hardest challenge yet.”



As it descends to the lunar surface, Odysseus will be targeting a landing site near a crater called Malapert A, close to the moon’s south pole. The moon's south polar region has long been tantalizing for scientists because water ice is thought to be relatively abundant in the region’s permanently shadowed craters.

Odysseus is carrying a mix of commercial cargo and NASA science instruments on its journey.

If the landing is successful, Odysseus will make history as the first commercial spacecraft on the moon. Intuitive Machines will also join an elite club: Only the space agencies of the United States, the former Soviet Union, China, India and Japan have successfully carried out a controlled or “soft” landing on the moon.

PP

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#11 Post by PHXPhlyer » Fri Feb 23, 2024 4:32 am

Privately built lunar lander makes history with successful moon touchdown
The lander, built by Intuitive Machines, touched down on the lunar surface at around 6:24 p.m. ET, overcoming a late-stage glitch with its onboard laser instruments.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/m ... e-n1308924

A robotic spacecraft made history Thursday becoming the first privately built craft to touch down on the lunar surface, as well as the first American vehicle to accomplish the feat in more than 50 years.

The lander, built by Intuitive Machines, touched down on the lunar surface at around 6:23 p.m. ET, overcoming a late-stage glitch with its onboard laser instruments. The Nova-C lander, nicknamed Odysseus, is now the first American spacecraft on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

"Houston, Odysseus has found its new home," the company's Chief Technology Officer Tim Crain radioed back from mission control, as employees cheered and celebrated.

It took several minutes to confirm the landing. As the spacecraft made its final descent, mission controllers lost contact with the spacecraft, as was expected to occur.

The company said it could detect a faint signal from one of Odysseus’ antennas, but more data was needed to determine how the spacecraft landed and in what condition. About two hours later, the team received good news.

"After troubleshooting communications, flight controllers have confirmed Odysseus is upright and starting to send data," Intuitive Machines said in an update on X. "Right now, we are working to downlink the first images from the lunar surface."

Intuitive Machines CEO Stephen Altemus called the landing an "outstanding effort" and praised the entire team. "I know this was a nail biter but we are on the surface and we are transmitting, and welcome to the moon," Altemus said.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also congratulated Intuitive Machines on the landing, calling the milestone a "triumph."

"Odysseus has taken the moon," Nelson said in a video message that aired during live coverage of the event. "This feat is a giant leap forward for all of humanity."

Odysseus launched into space on Feb. 15 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The 14-foot-tall lander then spent six days cruising more than 620,000 miles to reach the moon.

The landing time was adjusted several times Thursday as Intuitive Machines adjusted the spacecraft’s orbit around the moon.

As it descended to the lunar surface, Odysseus targeted a landing site near a crater called Malapert A, close to the moon’s south pole. The moon's south polar region has long been tantalizing for scientists because water ice is thought to be relatively abundant in the region’s permanently shadowed craters.

Odysseus is carrying a mix of commercial cargo and NASA science instruments on its journey. The lander is expected to spend about a week collecting data on the moon before lunar night sets in and the probe loses power.

Roughly an hour before landing, the company also scrambled to resolve a problem with laser instruments designed to help the spacecraft assess the lunar terrain and find a safe and hazard-free spot to touch down. The laser rangefinders aboard Odysseus were not operable but sensors on one of the NASA science instruments aboard the lander were repurposed instead.

The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which the space agency set up to support development of moon landers by private-sector companies. NASA eventually plans to hire these companies to transport cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface as part of the agency’s broader ambitions to return astronauts to the moon.

NASA awarded Intuitive Machines $118 million to carry out the moon landing.

Last month, a separate company tried but failed to send a lander to the moon under the same NASA program. That spacecraft, built by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, suffered a crippling malfunction shortly after launch that forced the company to scrap the entire mission.

In addition to being the first commercial spacecraft on the moon, Odysseus also joins an elite club: Only the space agencies of the United States, the former Soviet Union, China, India and Japan have successfully carried out a controlled or “soft” landing on the moon.

PP

User avatar
Wodrick
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8455
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:23 am
Location: Torrox Campo, Andalucia.
Gender:
Age: 74

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#12 Post by Wodrick » Fri Feb 23, 2024 10:31 am

I congratulate Intuitive Machines, well done.
Question.
Why, when the whole aviation community uses UTC does the space program use American time zones ?

Boac
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 17387
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:12 pm
Location: Here

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#13 Post by Boac » Fri Feb 23, 2024 11:48 am

Q2: Why do some Americans think Trump would make a good president?

The answer to that should answer your query.

G-CPTN
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 7718
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:22 pm
Location: Tynedale
Gender:
Age: 79

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#14 Post by G-CPTN » Fri Feb 23, 2024 3:33 pm

I appreciate that the Moon has little or no 'atmosphere' - apart from being a 'cool' place to be - though no moonlight for atmosphere of course - but does it share a similar seasonal temperature to Earth with the South pole being 'Antarctic'?

I wonder what would happen if the lander was shot out of the sky (do they still call it that?) as it approached?

Boac
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 17387
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:12 pm
Location: Here

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#15 Post by Boac » Sat Feb 24, 2024 8:51 am

It fell over onto its side, but is apparently otherwise functioning well. Thought to have not kicked off the drift on landing. :))

PHXPhlyer
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8652
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:56 pm
Location: PHX
Gender:
Age: 69

Re: Two US Companies Shoot For The Moon

#16 Post by PHXPhlyer » Sun Feb 25, 2024 3:47 pm

The Odysseus lunar lander is sideways on the moon, company that built it says

https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/23/world/od ... index.html

The Odysseus lunar lander is sideways on the moon, Intuitive Machines, the company that built the vehicle, said during a news conference Friday.

The revelation comes after Intuitive Machines had initially described Odysseus, also called “Odie” or IM-1, as “upright” in an update posted to the social media platform X just after the historic mission made its touchdown on the lunar surface Thursday. But the company’s CEO, Steve Altemus, said data later showed that the spacecraft was likely tilted on its side after having caught one of its feet on a lunar rock.

“We think it came down (moving) about 6 miles an hour this way, and about 2 miles an hour (horizontally along the surface) and caught foot in the surface, and the lander has tipped like this,” Altemus said, using a small model of the lander to demonstrate the suspected issue during a news briefing.

Altemus said only one piece of Odysseus’ cargo is on the side of the spacecraft that’s facing down toward the lunar surface: A piece of art that was sent to the moon by one of Intuitive Machines’ commercial customers.

The CEO also emphasized that the spacecraft remained in stable condition, with its solar panels catching sunlight and fully charging its batteries. Already, some experimental technology payloads from NASA have been put to the test, checking off some key mission objectives.

‘A punch in the stomach’
Notably, Intuitive Machines realized prior to descent that Odysseus had a faulty piece of navigation equipment. And the company opted to bypass the broken pieces and use an experimental NASA instrument that happened to be on board: The Navigation Doppler Radar, or NDL, developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Altemus said initially learning of the issue was “like a punch in the stomach — that we were going to lose the mission.”

The company’s engineers had to essentially operate as hackers, figuring out a way to patch in data from NASA’s NDL — which was intended to be on a simple demo flight — in the hopes it could save the mission.

The hack ultimately worked, and the spacecraft made it to the lunar surface in operational condition. No other US spacecraft has soft-landed on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, and no commercial spacecraft before Odysseus had ever accomplished such a feat.

The space agency and Intuitive Machines are still working to figure out whether Odysseus can achieve all of its science objectives, according to Joel Kearns, the deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

“We are doing an assessment to see: Are there any measurements still to come from any of the NASA supplied payloads that most likely can’t take place particularly because of this new orientation?” Kearns said.

The spacecraft is experiencing some issues that involve the speed and consistency with which they can gather data from Odysseus.

What this means for mission success
The US space agency, as the primary financial backer of the mission, has celebrated the mission as a major win.

“This is a gigantic accomplishment,” Kearns said Friday.

The spacecraft traveled “not just to an area where we landed earlier — decades ago near the equator with the Apollo missions — but in the unusual territory of the (lunar) south pole, which is the focus of our future human Artemis missions,” Kearns said, referring to NASA’s efforts to return astronauts to the moon as soon as later this decade.

Intuitive Machines is still working to assess exactly how much work Odysseus can carry out on the lunar surface and confirm the physical state of the spacecraft after its unexpected fall.

“We’re hopeful to get pictures and really do an assessment of the structure and assessment of all the external equipment,” Altemus said.

The company still has not shared images captured by the spacecraft while on the moon, though it did reveal a shot taken by the lander as it approached lunar surface Thursday. Intuitive Machines also plans to eject a device aboard Odysseus called EagleCam, which could capture an image of the spacecraft from afar, Altemus confirmed on Friday.

All told, Odysseus will likely be able to spend about nine days operating on the lunar surface, according to Tim Crain, Intuitive Machines’ chief technology officer. This is a slightly longer projection than the company offered in a fact sheet prior to launch, which suggested Odie would have “roughly seven days.”

“You’re gonna bring a tear to my eye,” Crain said when asked about how long the spacecraft will operate on the lunar surface.

After nine days, “the sun will move beyond our solar arrays in any configuration,” Crain said. “Once the sun sets on Odie, the batteries will attempt to keep the vehicle warm and alive but eventually, it’ll fall into a deep cold. And then the electronics that we produce just won’t survive the deep cold of lunar night.”

PP

Post Reply