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NASA Partners with Intuitive Machines for Landing an Ice-mining Drill on the Moon

Credit: Intuitive Machines

The mission is set for December 2022

NASA is planning to harvest water ice from the moon’s south pole, and for that, they are teaming up with Houston-based company Intuitive Machines for landing an ice-mining drill on December 2022.

Intuitive Machines will be paid $47 million for delivering NASA’s Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment (PRIME-1) and is going to be the first ever mission for harvesting water ice from inside the moon. The moon ice mission comes under NASA’s Artemis program, whose main mission is to land astronauts on the moon once again in 2024.

What Intuitive Machine’s job is

©Intuitive Machines

According to NASA’s associate administrator for science missions Thomas Zurbuchen, the information they will gain from PRIME-1’s mission will let them know more about how to build a sustainable lunar presence for their astronauts.

PRIME-1, which weighs 88-lbs will be transported by Intuitive Machines on their NOVA-C lander as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, otherwise called CLPS. Intuitive Machines is part of other robotic machines under CLPS and will be flying other items off to the moon.

Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus spoke about how it’s an incredible honour to be laying the foundation for man’s return to the moon. He also said that this is a good opportunity for his business to show just how capable it is.

Once PRIME-1 lands, it will be using its drill to dig about 3 feet (1 meter) below the moon’s surface to look for buried ice water. A mass spectrometer is also part of the project, just to see how much of ice from PRIME-1’s sample is lost to sublimation, something that happens in space where a solid is converted directly into vapour. PRIME-1 will be providing NASA with a lot of information on the resources available on the moon, and how we could make use of them.