|Country of origin||US|
|Applications||Lunar payloads delivery|
|Dry mass||1,500 kg (3,300 lb) |
|Payload capacity||100 kg (220 lb) |
|Power||200 W (0.27 hp)|
|Length||3 m (9.8 ft)|
|Diameter||2 m (6 ft 7 in)|
|Maiden launch||11 October 2021 (planned)|
|Derived from||Project Morpheus|
Intuitive Machines was one of the 9 contractor companies selected by NASA in November 2018, and Nova-C is one of the first three landers selected to be built and launched by the new NASA program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services. Launch is planned on a Falcon 9 rocket on 11 October 2021.
Nova-C lunar lander was designed by Intuitive Machines, and it inherits technology developed by NASA's Project Morpheus. It features a spacecraft propellant system that uses methane and liquid oxygen, and an autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. After landing, the lander is capable of relocating by performing a vertical takeoff, cruise, and vertical landing. Methane and oxygen could also be potentially manufactured on the Moon and Mars. (See: In-situ resource utilization.) Nova-C is capable of 24/7 data coverage for its client payload, and can hold a payload of 100 kg. The Nova-C lander design provides a technology platform that scales to mid and large lander classes, capable of accommodating larger payloads.
Nova-C was selected in May 2019 for NASA's CLPS as one of the first three landers of this program, that is tasked with delivering small payloads to explore and test technologies to process some natural resources of the Moon. NASA awarded Intuitive Machines $77 million for building and launching Nova-C. The other selected lander is the Peregrine by Astrobotic.
For its first flight, planned for October 2021, Nova-C will carry up to five NASA-sponsored instruments to land at Oceanus Procellarum. In addition, the lander will also carry some payloads from other customers. The lander will operate for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days.