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Intuitive Machines wants to help NASA recover samples from Mars

Intuitive Machines is looking to help reshape the architecture of the Mars Sample Return mission with its own technology, based on the architecture it developed for the Moon, executives told investors on a quarterly earnings call Tuesday .

“Intuitive Machines has engaged the agency and intends to provide a set of solutions based on the technology architecture we have developed for the return of lunar hardware,” said Steve Altemus, CEO of Intuitive Machines.

The Mars Sample Return (MSR) program is the agency’s $11 billion, 15-year mission to collect and return samples from the Red Planet, but NASA administrators finally admitted last month that the Architecture had become too complex and too expensive. The agency said it will soon solicit proposals from commercial industry to rethink the mission and ultimately reduce risks (and costs).

It’s no surprise that Intuitive Machines is seeking to be part of the program: the company made history by becoming the first private company to land a spacecraft on the Moon earlier this year. So it makes sense to try to adapt this technology. for Mars. It will probably be lucrative too; contracts associated with MSR could easily reach several billion dollars.

In addition to its first mission in January, Intuitive Machines is already on track for its second lunar mission, which is expected to launch later this year to the lunar south pole. The third mission is planned for 2025, although the final landing date is still being determined by the mission’s primary customer, NASA. Intuitive Machines is also awaiting the contractual decision on another agency mission, called CP-22, which would be launched around 2027.

However, Altemus said the later date of CP-22 “creates an opportunity” for Intuitive Machines to conduct its first fully commercial mission to deliver payloads to the Moon. All three missions contracted so far – the January mission, plus the next two – are being conducted as part of NASA’s awards under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.

“We’re seeing a lot of commercial and international interest in terms of contracts being signed to fly to the Moon, and we see that continually growing over the next couple of years,” interim CFO Steven Vontur said on the call.

In addition to the successful lunar lander mission earlier in the quarter, executives touted securing one of three study contracts under NASA’s Lunar Terrain Vehicle Services program. The LTVS program has a total value of $4.6 billion over 15 years, although NASA will likely choose at least two suppliers to develop the buggy.

The company ended the quarter with revenue of $73 million, an increase of 300% over the first quarter of last year, primarily due to the company earning revenue from a contract of NASA Engineering Services. Intuitive Machines posted a net loss of $5.4 million and had $55.2 million in cash.


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