One of America’s top aerospace and automatization firms, Intuitive Machines, has won a NASA contract. The agency has awarded the Houston-based private firm approximately USD 47 million to land water-measuring payload on Moon. If all goes as per the plan, the company will deliver a drill on the Earth’s natural satellite by December 2022. The drill will be combined with a mass spectrometer. It will have the ability to drill up to one meter below the lunar surface. NASA is searching for water ice at the South Pole. The region is of special interest to scientists because of the presence of water ice. Notably, no space agency in the world including NASA has landed close to the Moon’s the South Pole.
The payload has been named Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment. It will assist NASA in the search for ice. This would be the first time it will harvest ice from below the lunar surface. The contract has been awarded to Intuitive Machines under the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. The Moon’s environment is completely vacuumed. The firm will measure how much ice in the sample is lost to sublimation in the South Pole’s environment. Sublimation is a process wherein a solid is changed to gas form. The information collected during the exercise will help the agency in developing a sustainable lunar presence.
Besides, the findings will also contribute to NASA’s Artemis mission. Under the Artemis mission, NASA will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024. According to NASA, Intuitive Machines was one of nine companies the space agency had selected in 2018 for its CLPS program. Under the CLPS initiative, the US space agency has been working with multiple companies to deliver scientific equipment and take technology to the lunar surface. The firms will deliver payloads for NASA to help the agency explore the Moon. Moon is the only celestial body beyond Earth where humans have set foot.