Credit: Intuitive Machines

Nova-C is a lunar lander designed by the private company Intuitive Machines to deliver small commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon. Intuitive Machines was one of nine contractor companies selected by NASA in November 2018 to submit bids for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Nova-C is one of the lunar landers that is built and will be launched under that program. The first Nova-C lander is manifested on the IM-1 mission to be launched in January 2024 by a Falcon 9 rocket. Nova-C will carry up to five NASA-sponsored instruments. In addition, the lander will also carry some payloads from other customers. The scientific objectives of the mission include studies of plume-surface interactions, radio astronomy, and space weather interactions with the lunar surface. It will also be demonstrating precision landing technologies and communication and navigation node capabilities. The lander will operate for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days. The Nova-C lunar lander was designed by Intuitive Machines, and it inherits technology developed by NASA's Project Morpheus. It features a main engine called the VR900 that uses methane and liquid oxygen and produces 4,000 N (900 lbf) of thrust, and an autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. Nova-C is capable of 24/7 data coverage for its client payload, and can hold a payload of 100 kg. DOGE-1 and EagleCAM will be deployed as secondary payloads (Cubesats) from the Lunar-C lunar lander.

Lunar lander info

Nation: USA
Company/operator: Intuitive Machines
Mass: 1,900 kg / 4,200 lb
Dimensions: 3 m x 2 m
Payload mass: 100 kg / 220 lb
  • ILO-X (International Lunar Observatory)
  • Laser Retro-Reflector Array (NASA)
  • Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing (NASA)
  • Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator (NASA)
  • Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies (NASA)
  • Plasma and Low-frequency Radio Observations for the Near Side Lunar Surface (NASA)
  • Tiger Eye 1 (Louisiana State University)
  • EagleCAM (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)
  • DOGE-1 (Geometric Energy Corporation)
Launch vehicles:




Nova-C launch overview

Date launch Rocket Launch base Orbit Payload Patch Mission succes?
January 2024

Kennedy Space Center (USA) Trans-Lunar Injection Lunar-C Nova-C

Not launched yet

Images: Intuitive Machines

Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens.