Our LOX/Methane engines are unique for in-space propulsion, in that they offer safety in handling and testing here on the ground, but crank out unmatched performance in the space domain, and enable our vehicles to fly more direct trajectories to the moon.
Why is that important?
Higher performance allows us to transit the Van Allen belts once, unlike our competitors, which greatly reduces the risk of damage to our vehicle avionics due to high energy particles.
The workhorse of our engine fleet is the 900 lbf thrust class VR900.
This masterpiece of engineering has been perfected with hundreds of hours of testing and design, and will be at the heart of our Nova-C lander as it returns the U.S. to the lunar surface later this year.
Our 3,500 lbf thrust class powerhouse is the VR3500. This monster broke the Marshall Space Flight Center’s Test Stand 115 record for a continuous test duration (600 seconds) on 28 February, 2020.
The VR3500 development and testing was performed on contract for Boeing’s Human Landing System (HLS) NextSTEP-2 in support of NASA’s Artemis program, and returning humans to the lunar surface. The Intuitive Machines team designed, developed, built, and tested the engine within 4 months of contract award. This is a perfect example of how our incredible team blends innovation and experience to rapidly deliver results that exceed expectations.
Pieces and Parts – What makes our Engines Awesome?
We've completed over a thousand hot-fire tests of our igniter, including more than one hundred vacuum and thermal vacuum hot-fire tests, in order to ensure reliable main engine ignition under all conditions on our way to the moon.
The VR-900 on the Nova-C lander will have full gimbal control to afford us precise control as we “stick the landing” at the end of the year. This precision is made possible by our advanced Motor GImbal “MOGI” controllers.
Main Engine Control – Serves as the integral command link between flight control and vehicle propulsion
Engine Igniter Interface Circuit – Ignition circuit that creates the spark to reliability ignite the Nova-C’s main engine
Reaction Control System Controller (RCSC) – Used to drive helium attitude control jets to change vehicle orientation in space