HOUSTON – Officials of space and defense technology company Aegis Aerospace Inc. and pioneering space company Intuitive Machines yesterday formally announced they have entered into the first Texas-based business-to-business contract to deliver a commercial science payload to the Moon. This unique agreement extends Aegis Aerospace’s Space Testing as a Service (STaaS™) business model from Earth orbit to the Moon and sets the stage for Intuitive Machines’ IM-4 mission, its fourth planned commercial lunar delivery. The announcement was made at a press event at Space Center Houston among industry leaders and government officials, including NASA JSC Director Vanessa Wyche and Congressman Brian Babin (R-TX).
The unique subcontract, issued under Aegis Aerospace’s Tipping Point Prime contract with NASA, calls for Intuitive Machines to deliver Aegis Aerospace’s Space Science & Technology Evaluation Facility – First Flight (SSTEF-1) to the Moon in 2025. SSTEF is a general-purpose science and testing facility designed to accommodate a variety of experiments in a single package. The SSTEF-1 experiments come from six U.S. technology companies and an academic institute, and are expected to include a 3D printed antenna and other experimental printed materials, electronic systems, sensors, radiation protective materials, solar cells, a cryogenically-cooled IR sensor, and a novel solar cell-protective cover. SSTEF provides the structure, control and interfacing software and electronics, data management, electronics, cameras, and environmental sensors.
“We think that this agreement is important for the future of lunar science and technology development and for the lunar space economy,” stated Mark Gittleman, Aegis Aerospace president and CEO. “SSTEF extends our Space Testing as a Service business model to the Moon, which is important for our customers because it’s such a cost-effective way to conduct space science and technology development. This agreement between two Texas commercial space companies is not just a Texas first, it’s a testament to NASA’s vision and success in nurturing a commercial space economy. We anticipate this kind of arrangement to become a model for future lunar activities.”
“Two Texas aerospace companies working together to accept one of humanity’s greatest challenges, that’s absolutely incredible,” said Steve Altemus, Intuitive Machines President, and CEO. “Adding Aegis Aerospace and other commercial payloads to our lunar missions are critical steps toward defining the lunar economy and expanding Intuitive Machines’ turnkey solution for delivering, communicating, and commanding customer payloads.”
SSTEF-1 and the Nova-C lander will be controlled from each company’s control center in Houston.