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The lunar mining startup, no longer so secret

Hello and welcome to TechCrunch Space. We’re just two days away from Intuitive Machines’ first-ever mission to the Moon. Pro tip: If you haven’t already, check out this ultra-comprehensive press kit about the mission: the company goes into a ton of detail about the lander’s architecture, the payloads on board, and everything that will happen during the mission. assignment.

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In honor of IM-1’s upcoming launch, this week I’m highlighting a story I wrote about the mission when SpaceX and Intuitive Machines (finally) announced the liftoff date and time. As many have guessed, they are aiming for February 14 at 12:57 a.m. EST, with a few extra days as a backup in case weather or other issues delay the launch.

Intuitive Machines hopes to pave the way for commercial success in the nascent lunar economy, with the company stating in the press kit that the success of this mission “will lay the foundation for a booming lunar economy, opening new possibilities for research , trade and exploration. .”

intuitive machines im-1

Image credits: EspaceX

Last week I wrote about Interlune, a stealth startup founded by former Blue Origin executives that secured $15 million in new funding.

But the justification for the capital increase was poorly understood. Interlune, led by former Blue Origin president Robert Meyerson, had kept things very, very close to the chest. Until now. Two of Interlune’s confidential pitch decks, dated spring 2022 and fall 2023 and viewed by TechCrunch, reveal that the startup was seeking this funding to build and test resource extraction hardware for lunar helium-3 ( He-3).

Intermoon lunar mining

Image credits: Intermoon

Launch Highlights

SpaceX launched a billion-dollar NASA Earth science satellite on a Falcon 9 last week, capping about two decades of development and planning.

The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) spacecraft will collect data on marine ecosystems, the ocean and our atmosphere, helping scientists better understand everything from phytoplankton to air quality. by the way the ocean and atmosphere exchange carbon.

“PACE is going to show us ocean biology on a scale we’ve never been able to see before,” Karen St. Germain, director of NASA’s Earth Sciences Division, said during a press briefing. .

NASA SpaceX Pace Mission

Image credits: EspaceX

CNBC’s Michael Sheetz spoke with seven bankers about the likely sale of United Launch Alliance and the three bidders currently in the running, including Blue Origin and aerospace contractor Textron. It takes a closer look at what the acquisition would mean for each of the potential buyers – and for the future of the launch.

Amazon branding on a ULA Atlas V rocket

Image credits: Amazon/ULA

This week in space history

I finally have an excuse to use one of my favorite photographs in space history: that of astronaut Bruce McCandless, who on February 12, 1984, used a nitrogen-powered backpack to venture further from the space shuttle than anyone else. had before.

mccandless jetpack

Image credits: NASA (Opens in a new window)

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