Via Intuitive Machines


Together, Intuitive Machines (IM) and Morehead State University’s Space Science Center (MSU) validated a complete lunar communications solution with the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), including orbit determination pointing solution and data downlink.


Working under a Space Act Agreement, NASA granted IM access to LRO to conduct a live sky test of IM’s Lunar Telemetry and Tracking Network (LTN). During the successful test, MSU’s 21-meter antenna locked on to NASA’s LRO radiofrequency and fed the signal back to IM’s Nova Control in Houston, Texas. The complete test validated the process used to communicate, command, and control IM’s spacecraft during the company’s 2022 lunar mission.


“This was a critical step towards returning the United States to the lunar surface on our IM-1 mission this year,” said Peter McGrath, Vice President of Business Development at Intuitive Machines. “It is also key to validating our fully commercial lunar distance communication and data relay network that supports future IM missions as well as other players in the emerging lunar economy.”

MSU’s 21-meter dish provides telemetry, tracking, ranging, and commanding services for low-Earth, medium-Earth, and near-Earth deep space missions. All future IM missions to the Moon will require the technical support and expertise that the team at MSU is ready to provide for mission tracking and data downlink services.


"The importance of these live sky tests utilizing NASA's LRO cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Benjamin Malphrus Ed.D., Executive Director of MSU Space Science Center. “These tests represent complete end-to-end systems tests of our ground station, ground data systems, and interfaces to IM's Nova Control. They also represent valuable training opportunities for our early-career mission operation specialists and engineers in training".

By granting access to LRO, NASA has accelerated the speed at which a commercial company can provide lunar communications infrastructure for an entire industry.

via Intuitive Machines and Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd.


Working together, Intuitive Machines (IM) and Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) Ltd. recently integrated GES’s newly commissioned deep space antenna (GHY-6) into IM’s Lunar Telemetry and Tracking Network (LTN). The LTN will provide near-continuous coverage during the company’s IM-1 mission to the Moon in early 2022. The validation concluded with the complete system ‘live-sky’ test receiving the European Space Agency (ESA) INTEGRAL spacecraft’s signal and streaming the data back to the IM mission operations center in Houston, Texas.

Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd. deep space antenna, GHY-6 (Image taken by Brian Mader)

“GHY-6 has been supporting ESA’s missions since the antenna was opened in the summer of 2021,” said Matt Cosby, chief technology officer for GES. “The work with IM marks the start of GES and IM offering commercial services to the Moon and testing the complete system using INTEGRAL mitigates the risk for the IM-1 mission.”


“Through GES’s GHY-6 deep space antenna, IM received data from a spacecraft nearly half the distance to the Moon,” said Troy LeBlanc Ph.D., the Vice President of Control Centers for IM. “This sends a powerful message that GES and IM together will be a major provider of near space network communications.”


About Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines' complete Lunar Payload Delivery Services (LPDS) program unlocks the lunar economy to explore the solar system further and gain knowledge for the progress of humanity. As a premier provider of space services and technologies, Intuitive Machines is reestablishing the United States' dominance on the ultimate high ground, the Moon. Designed by the greatest minds in spaceflight, Intuitive Machines' LPDS program will send the first American spacecraft to the surface of the Moon since the Apollo Program and send the first spacecraft ever to reach the lunar south pole.


About Goonhilly

Goonhilly is a global communications services hub and satellite station located in Cornwall, UK. It provides a comprehensive range of leading-edge connectivity and operational solutions to the space industry, GEO, MEO and LEO satellite fleet operators, broadcasters, as well as a wide diversity of enterprises seeking to grow their businesses on Earth and in cis-lunar and deep space. Customers include SES, Intelsat, Eutelsat and Inmarsat, as well as space agencies, governments, broadcasters and others. Since 2014 the partners in Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd. have been focused on building the company and investing in the site. Further information is available on our website - www.goonhilly.org

Collaboration kicks off ahead of upcoming Moon launch


Houston, Texas – December 9, 2021 – Columbia Sportswear’s new Omni-Heat Infinity reflective technology will be incorporated into Intuitive Machines’ upcoming mission to the Moon. Selected by NASA to build and launch their Nova-C lunar lander, Intuitive Machines’ mission will mark the United States’ first return to the lunar surface in 50 years.


In laboratory simulations leading up to this 2022 launch, Intuitive Machines’ researchers have determined that the gold metallic foil of Columbia’s Omni-Heat Infinity will provide benefits toward insulating their lunar lander against the extreme temperatures on the Moon. In this first-of-its-kind sponsorship, Intuitive Machines is proud to partner with Columbia and its shared commitment to innovation, technology, and exploration.


“Creating and defining the lunar economy requires making the Moon available for everyone,” said Steve Altemus, president and CEO of Intuitive Machines. “Columbia embodies the spirit of exploration, and we are proud to have their support for America’s return to the Moon.”

“Inspired by the reflective technology used by NASA, our Omni-Heat Infinity technology has been tested in many challenging environments on Earth, but the Moon represents a first for us,” said Joe Boyle, Columbia brand president. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with Intuitive Machines on their upcoming mission as we continue to push our technology to new heights.”

Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the first quarter of 2022. Powered by its built-in-house 3D printed liquid oxygen and methane engine, Nova-C will deliver 130 kg of NASA and commercial payloads to the Moon. Made-in-house guidance navigation and control will guide Nova to the lunar surface by utilizing the world’s first commercially available lunar distance communication network created by Intuitive Machines. Three teams of 12 mission controllers will command and control Nova-C 24/7 during the 21-day mission from Nova Control, becoming the first Houston-commanded lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.


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About Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines' complete lunar program unlocks the lunar economy to explore the solar system further and gain knowledge for the progress of humanity. As the premier provider of space services and technologies, Intuitive Machines is reestablishing the United States' dominance on the ultimate high ground, the Moon. Designed by the greatest minds in spaceflight, IM's lunar program will send the first American spacecraft to the surface of the Moon since the Apollo program and send the first spacecraft ever to reach the lunar south pole.


About Columbia Sportswear:

Columbia, the flagship brand of Portland, Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear Company, has been creating innovative apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment for outdoor enthusiasts since 1938. Columbia has become a leading global brand by channeling the company’s passion for the outdoors and innovative spirit into technologies and performance products that keep people warm, dry, cool and protected year-round. To learn more, please visit the company's website at www.columbia.com.