Intuitive Machines has selected a York Space Systems S-Class satellite with a lunar communications payload to launch on Intuitive Machines' lunar south pole mission at the end of next year. The satellite will orbit the moon and provide communications, much like a satellite that orbits Earth.
"Establishing the first node in a lunar communication and navigation network is the key to unlocking the next economic frontier, the cislunar economy," Intuitive Machines President and CEO Steve Altemus said. "We are in a phenomenal position to deliver payloads to lunar orbit with each of our surface missions. With an annual launch cadence, we're able to establish the first lunar communications satellite and return reliably to finish the entire network around the Moon."
York Space Systems also expressed excitement about the news.
“We are excited Intuitive Machines selected York to enable their history-making lunar South Pole mission,” said Melanie Preisser, vice president of national systems at York Space Systems. “Our enhanced manufacturing capacity, now fully operational with a flight-proven supply chain, ensures we can meet Intuitive Machines’ rapid deployment timelines for this lunar mission.”
Intuitive Machines' second mission to the moon will allow for future robotic exploration of the moon, along with humans' return to the lunar surface.
The lander, Nova-C will be the first to drill for lunar ice and deploy a rover to demonstrate 4G LTE communication on the moon. Additionally, a smaller unit will be the first to explore deep craters on the moon's surface, according to the release.