What time is SpaceX’s IM-1 private moon lander launch for Intuitive Machines on Feb. 14? (Image Credit: Space.com)
SpaceX will launch a privately built lunar lander to the moon for the company Intuitive Machines on Feb. 14, and if you want to know where and when it will lift off, we’ve got you covered.
The IM-1 mission, as it’s called, will launch Intuitive Machines’ first Nova-C spacecraft to the moon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in a predawn Valentine’s Day launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Liftoff is scheduled for 12:57 a.m. EST (0557 GMT).
If all goes well, the Nova-C lander (Intuitive Machines has named it Odysseus) is expected to land on the moon on Feb. 22 to deliver experiments for NASA and commercial customers to the lunar surface under a $118 million contract with NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. Here’s how and when to watch it launch.
What time will SpaceX launch the IM-1 lander Odysseus?
Currently, SpaceX and Intuitive Machines plan to launch the Odysseus lander early Wednesday, Feb. 14, from Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Liftoff is set for 12:57 a.m. EST (0557 GMT).
SpaceX must launch the IM-1 mission during a three-day window this week, which opens on Feb. 14, in order for the Odysseus lander to reach its landing day target of Feb. 22, NASA and Intuitive Machines officials have said. SpaceX originally hoped to launch the mission in January but had to delay the flight after a ripple of other SpaceX launch delays due to bad weather.
Can you watch SpaceX’s IM-1 moon lander launch online?
Yes, you’ll be able to watch SpaceX’s IM-1 launch for Intuitive Machines and NASA online for free in one of several livestreams. Our guide on how to watch SpaceX launch the IM-1 moon lander has everything you need to know.
SpaceX will also provide a launch webcast on its X account (formerly Twitter), starting at least 15 minutes before liftoff.
Meanwhile, Intuitive Machines will host the same NASA webcast on its own IM-1 mission website during the launch webcast. Space.com will host a simulcast of NASA’s webcast on our homepage, the top of this page and likely our YouTube channel.
During the launch webcast, viewers will be able to see SpaceX’s final minutes of prelaunch preparation for the Falcon 9 rocket, which typically includes final fueling for launch. About eight minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth and land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, an event that is also expected to be in the webcast.
How long is the IM-1 Odysseus moon mission?
Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission will send the Nova-C lander Odysseus to the moon on a 16-day mission that, if successful, will mark the first-ever private landing on the moon and the first U.S. landing on the lunar surface since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
If SpaceX launches the Odysseus lander on time, Intuitive Machines’ mission plan calls for a nine-day trip to the moon, followed by a seven-day stay on the lunar surface. Intuitive Machines aims to land the Odysseus spacecraft in Malapert A, a satellite crater of the nearly 43-mile-wide (69 kilometers) Malapert Crater near the moon’s south pole.
The mission will end when the two-week long lunar night begins, according to a mission overview.
It is unclear exactly how long NASA and SpaceX will livestream the IM-1 mission’s flight after launch, but the webcast is expected to run through at least the landing of the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage eight minutes after liftoff. SpaceX and NASA may opt to provide live coverage through spacecraft separation, so we’ll have to wait and see.
What if SpaceX can’t launch the IM-1 mission on time?
If SpaceX is unable to launch the IM-1 mission on Feb. 14, the company will have at least two more chances this week, depending on the reason for a delay.
SpaceX, NASA and Intuitive Machines have a three-day window that includes launch opportunities on Feb. 14, Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 before SpaceX would have to stand down until some time in March, according to Trent Martin, vice president of lunar access for Intuitive Machines. Regardless of which day IM-1 launches during this week’s window, the Odysseus lander would still be on target for a Feb. 22 moon landing, Martin added.
“If we were to push into the March window, it is also a three-day window, and we’re coordinating with SpaceX and that as well,” Martin told reporters in a Jan. 31 briefing.
Complicating the launch options for IM-1 is NASA’s Crew-8 astronaut mission, which SpaceX is also scheduled to launch from KSC’s Pad 39A this month. That mission, which will send four astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA on a Crew Dragon spacecraft, is scheduled to launch on Feb. 22. That mission could be delayed if IM-1 doesn’t lift off on time.
“Right now, we’re working towards the 22nd, with the possibility of going later depending what happens with IM,” NASA associate administrator Jim Free told reporters in a Feb. 5 press conference, referring to the Crew-8 mission.