The upcoming second launch of a NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) mission to the Moon will include imagers from Canadensys Aerospace for the International Lunar Observatory Association and Intuitive Machines. The latter was partially funded by the Canadian Space Agency through the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program.
We learned earlier today during a NASA press briefing on the upcoming launch of the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission that the Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission for the CLPS program launch date has been firmed up. The No Earlier Than (NET) date is now February 14. If for whatever reason they can’t launch on Valentines day, their launch window extends to the 15th and 16th. As well, and as reported by Spaceflight Now, “there will be a wet dress rehearsal on Feb. 7, which will include a fueling of the Nova-C lander.”
Intuitive Machines recently released a detailed 40 page press kit, available below to read or download, and incudes more information on the International Lunar Observatory Association IOL-X imagers.
According to the press kit the “ILO-X is a precursor to the ILOA Hawai’i flagship Moon South Pole Observatory ILO-1. The ~0.6 kg ILO-X instruments, built for ILOA by Toronto-based Canadensys Aerospace, includes a miniaturized dual-camera lunar imaging suite (one wide field and one narrow field). It will aim to capture some of the first images of the Milky Way Galaxy Center f rom the surface of the Moon, as well as performing other celestial astronomy / Earth / local lunar environment observations and exploration technology validations – including functionality and survivability in the lunar environment.”
The ILO-X payload was delivered to Intuitive Machines almost two years ago by Canadensys Aerospace. At the time it was expected the IM-1 launch would happen before years end on 2022. However, delays for a variety of reasons ensued. With the recent failure of the first CLPS mission by Astrobotic, and even with the multi-year delay, Intuitive Machines could still be the first CLPS mission to reach the Moon.
Along with the imagers for International Lunar Observatory Association, Canadensys had provided Intuitive Machines an AI-enabled 360-degree imaging system. Canadensys delivered the imaging system in August 2022. At the time, Intuitive Machines said that they had added Canadensys as a “part of our lunar lander supply chain, and have engaged them further, for the IM-2 mission”