ILO-X telescope onboard Intuitive Machines IM-1 Nova-C lunar lander.


A telescope is on tap for the Moon’s Schroter’s Valley and aims to capture images of the Milky Way Galaxy Center from the lunar surface.

The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA Hawaii) has contracted Intuitive Machines of Houston Texas to fly its ILO-X payload on the IM-1 Nova-C lander mission set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

ILO-X is being built for ILOA by Toronto-based Canadensys Aerospace. The instrument includes a dual-camera miniaturized lunar imaging suite and is a precursor to the ILOA flagship Moon South Pole Observatory ILO-1, said ILOA Director, Steve Durst. ILO-X can perform other celestial/Earth/local lunar environment observations and exploration technology validations – including functionality and survivability in the Moon’s harsh environment.

Moon south pole astronomy vision.
Credit: Michael Carroll

New perspective

“The Milky Way Galaxy first view from the Moon with ILO-X could provide a new 21st Century perspective for the human future,” Durst explained, “like the Earth-rise first view from the Moon did for global understandings last century.”

In addition to Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission in 2021, NASA recently selected Intuitive Machines (IM) to deliver the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment (PRIME-1) drill, combined with a mass spectrometer, to the Moon’s South Pole by December 2022.

Both awarded missions to IM are in support of NASA’s Artemis program.

Reimagining what’s possible

“Our IM-1 mission is reimagining what’s possible for the commercial space industry,” said Trent Martin, IM’s Vice President of Aerospace Services. “We can’t wait to stick the landing in 2021,” he said, “to capture the first ever image of the Milky Way Galaxy Center from the lunar surface,” in an ILOA press statement.

Larger ILO-1 and ILO-2 observations and communications missions are under development, eyed for launch in the 2022-2023 time frame.

For more information on the International Lunar Observatory Association, go to:

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