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Morehead State SSE Students Tracking Lunar Mission


Morehead State’s Space Science Center (SSC) continues its involvement with NASA’s Artemis program and the Moon to Mars initiative with the upcoming launch of Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission.

The SSC will be among the primary ground station for the mission as part of the Intuitive Machines Lunar Data Network (LDN), which includes locations in England, South Africa, and Australia. Students in the space systems engineering program will provide telemetry, tracking, and command services for the mission, meaning they will communicate with the spacecraft and collect data it is transmitting back to Earth. MSU students will also track a NASA payload that IM-1 is carrying to the Moon called Lunar Node 1.

Dr. Ben Malphrus, executive director of the Space Science Center, said this will be the next time a commercial company is sending a lander to the Moon on a commercial rocket - two giant leaps for the aerospace industry.

“We’ll be helping these guys make history,” Malphrus said.

Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission is sending its Nova-C lunar lander named Odysseus to the Moon as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. CLPS is a key part of NASA’s lunar exploration efforts.

The mission will last approximately two weeks. It will take about nine days for the lander to reach the Moon, and it will spend one week collecting data before lunar night falls and temperatures drop so low that the lander’s electronics won’t function.

Intuitive Machines is a diversified space exploration company focused on pioneering the commercial landscape of outer space – with a North Star of landing the United States on the Moon. Intuitive Machines believes that their first lunar missions are the spark that will ignite the commercial development of the Moon as a destination of scientific achievement and will serve as a commercial blueprint to explore our solar system.

Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 lunar mission is targeted for a multi-day launch window, which opens February 14, 2024.

For more information about this project, contact Dr. Ben Malphrus at b.malphrus@moreheadstate.edu or 606-783-2212.

Learn more about MSU’s Department of Engineering Sciences by emailing Department Chair Dr. Eric Jerde at e.jerde@moreheadstate.edu or calling 606-783-5406.