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Launch of the lunar apparatus Intuitive Machines postponed due to problems with fuel. New start date set for Thursday, 15 February

As a result of problems with fuel temperature, SpaceX decided to postpone the launch of the partial lunar apparatus Intuitive Machines. The planned launch of the lunar landing module Odysseus on the rocket SpaceX Falcon 9 from the site 39А NASA Space Center named after Kennedy in Florida was planned for 14 February. However, the new start date is set for Thursday, 15 February.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with space probe Odysseus Intuitive Machines at the launch site ahead of a scheduled launch on February 14, 2024. Source: SpaceX

Lunar landing module «Odyssey» developed by the company Intuitive Machines and running on liquid methane. Loading of this fuel into the apparatus was assumed before launch. However, while conducting preparatory activities, SpaceX discovered «incorrect temperature of methane», according to information from NASA.

The apparatus delivers six NASA instruments to Luna, as well as commercial cargo. SpaceX and Intuitive Machines received a three-day launch window — from 14 to 16 February, to be able to reach the Moon by 22 February. In case of failure, the next launch attempt will be postponed to March.

The mission, titled IM-1, will be Intuitive Machines’ first attempt to reach the Moon. The purpose of the investigation is a crater near the south pole of the Moon. In case of success, «Odyssey» will become the first spacecraft to reach the Moon since the end of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Additionally, mission IM-1 is the second NASA mission under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, under which private spacecraft are used to deliver scientific instruments to the Moon. In January of this year, another private company Astrobotic tried to deliver its Peregrine landing module to the Moon, but the attempt was aborted due to fuel depletion, and the device returned to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere.

The team of NASA scientists and specialists Intuitive Machines are confident that the mission will pass successfully and will be able to cope with the tasks that could not be accomplished in the previous mission Peregrine. The apparatus brings with itself new technology experiments, including cameras and other equipment, which will help NASA more accurately study the surface of the Moon and the conditions of its environment.


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