via Community Impact

Intuitive Machines, the Clear Lake company that will make history when it sends a lander to the moon in early 2022, broke ground on its new lunar production and operations center at the Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport on Dec. 2.

Read the full story from Community Impact here.

The company will become the first-ever private company to travel to the moon—cementing Houston as a powerful player in the rapidly expanding aerospace industry, according to local elected officials and space industry experts. IM is the spaceport’s first tenant.

“This groundbreaking ceremony further propels Houston as the leader in the space race to the moon and beyond,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at the groundbreaking event Dec. 2. “Our great city is known for taking on humankind’s boldest challenges, and Houston’s own Intuitive Machines will be the first private company in the history of humankind to put a lunar lander on the moon.”

The center will span across about 12.5 acres and have more than 125,000 square feet of office and advanced production space, according to IM’s press kit. Other features will include tiered storage, an advanced loading doc, and a production area with 45-foot ceilings and cranes that will be capable of handling all Nova Lunar Lander designs.

The moon landing in the first quarter of 2022 will commence an annual launch cadence delivering both NASA and commercial payloads on and around the moon. This landing will be the United States’ first return to the moon in nearly half a century, Turner said Dec. 2.

“Here in Houston, we will cheer like no other city in the nation, because we will celebrate the fact that it was the minds and the hands of the people of this city who made it happen,” he said. “Make no mistake about it, the world is on the cusp of an aerospace craze. Innovation and technology will drive Houston’s economy forward, and the aerospace industry will be a key part of that.”

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services payloads will be incorporated into the IM-3 commercial mission and fly onboard a Nova-C lunar lander, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. Five CLPS missions to the lunar surface have been awarded to take place over the next three years, and IM has been awarded three of those missions.

The company, which has an office on Bay Area Boulevard, has created several lander vehicles. Its largest lander, the Nova-M, is capable of carrying a total 5,000 kilograms of payload to the lunar surface, per the press kit.

Starting in 2023, IM will transition from its current spaceport facility into the new building, where staff will build, command and communicate with more hardware that will go to the moon, per the press kit. The expansion project, anticipated to cost no more than $40 million, is driven by demand for the company's complete lunar program, from moon lander to deep-space communications.

Along with Turner, local industry leaders expressed optimism about the potential for aerospace growth in southeast Houston at the Dec. 2 event. Turner shared the podium with IM’s President and CEO Steve Altemus as well as Arturo Machuca, general manager of Ellington Airport and the Houston Spaceport; all three said the local aerospace industry is composed of workers with the necessary passion, talent and drive to make a lasting legacy on the lunar surface.

“These are intrepid spirits, seeking victory over things that others see as impossible,” Altemus said of IM’s mechanics. “The time has come for the next phase of Intuitive Machines, where we turn our mechanics loose with the tools, and the space and the resources they need to change the world.”

The U.S., China and Russia are the only countries to ever land on the moon. IM will add to that narrative when it lands next year, thanks to the work of the 150 mechanics taking part in something bigger than themselves, Altemus said.

Houston is already home to nearly 1,500 aerospace manufacturing professionals, and more than 250 aerospace companies and institutions, Turner said, and the spaceport’s three anchor tenants—IM, Axiom and Collins Aerospace—will add nearly 1,500 jobs.

Machuca thanked San Jacinto College in particular for their work at the Edge Center, developing future talent and funneling those workers into spaceport jobs. The spaceport also engages with other Houston-area universities, including the University of Houston-Clear Lake, to expand career training and build the local workforce, he said.

“These are truly exciting times, and there is no limit to what we can achieve at the Houston Spaceport,” Machuca said.

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HOUSTON, Texas – Space City is home to rapid development, and when it comes to the aerospace industry, there is lots of it.

The Houston Spaceport is opening new doors for innovation. Co-located at Ellington Airport, the ever-evolving property is welcoming new aerospace and aviation tenants, taking on projects headed to the moon and beyond.

The Spaceport is owned and managed by the Houston Airport System and brands itself as the world’s first truly urban commercial spaceport.

“We are doing things that some thought were not possible here,” Houston Spaceport Director and GM of the Houston Airport System’s Ellington Airport Arturo Machuca said.

Intuitive Machines is the first tenant and has made quite a footprint on the spaceport.

It’s there where they are building its Nova C Lunar Lander which is expected to land on the moon in 2022.

Altemus is the former Johnson Space Center Deputy Director and a NASA human spaceflight engineer.

“I had a 25-year wonderful career at NASA. [I] started at the Kennedy Space Center where I launched space shuttles for a living, and then I moved to the Johnson Space Center and I ran human spaceflight engineering for about a decade before retiring and forming Intuitive Machines,” Altemus said. “We’re all about going to the moon, landing on the moon, orbiting around the moon, communicating on the moon.”

The Spaceport is federally licensed for horizontal launches, so no rocket launches will be seen at the site, but the space can facilitate valuable ground for testing and other lower-level flights. A major part of the Houston Spaceport Houston Aerospace Support Center is innovation.

Read the full story here.

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HOUSTON — A Houston-based aerospace company has landed a $77.5 million dollar NASA contract to fly four payloads to the moon in 2024. It's the company's third contract with NASA.

Intuitive Machines is taking on the historic mission. The company has already made its mark on earth, and now it will leave its footprints on the moon.

Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus compared the hand-built landers that will carry the payloads to exotic cars.

"That's it's exactly what it's going to look like. It's like a hand-built Ferrari," Altemus said.

"Intuitive Machines is the first to return the United States to the moon in nearly 50 years. We'll also be the first to land on the South Pole, and now we'll be first to land in the Reiner Gamma magnetic anomaly," Altemus said.

The mission is set for 2024. The NOVA-C lunar lander will carry four very complex payloads.

Ryan Stephan is the Integration Manager for NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services -- or CLPS -- initiative.

"I'd be outside at night often and you know looking up at the moon," Stephan said. "This is a really interesting area of the moon that has perplexed scientists for years and we're going to collect this magnetic information."

He said the goal is to "unlock this lunar economy." They want to make access to the moon affordable.

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