Intuitive Machines unveils a $40 million hub for Lunar ambitions and the technology of 3D printing.


Intuitive Machines (Nasdaq: LUNR), known for its groundbreaking work in lunar exploration and the development of the Nova-C lunar lander, has achieved a major milestone. In late September 2023, the leading space exploration company inaugurated its Lunar Production and Operations Center. This state-of-the-art facility, located at the Houston Spaceport in Texas, spans 12.5 acres and represents an investment of $40 million.

The Lunar Production and Operations Center integrates advanced manufacturing zones and dedicated 3D printing areas. It serves as a novel lunar access capability for the US, NASA, and global commercial partners. Construction of the facility began in June 2021 and is now ready to support Intuitive Machines’ ambitious lunar endeavors.

Intuitive Machines has already secured significant NASA contracts and will lead the development of three important missions from this new facility. In 2020, NASA awarded the company a $47 million mission to deliver the PRIME-1 payload, which aims to search and harvest ice from the Moon’s South Pole. In 2021, Intuitive Machines received a $77.5 million contract to explore the Reiner Gamma lunar swirl by 2024, providing insights into lunar swirls and their connection to the Moon’s magnetic field. In collaboration with Zeno Power, the company also secured an additional $2.4 million from NASA’s Tipping Point initiative to develop technology for lunar equipment to endure the frigid lunar night.

The newly inaugurated center accommodates all four of Intuitive Machines’ core business units and aims to bridge Earth and the Moon for sustainable, safe, and efficient space exploration. The headquarters, spanning an impressive 105,572 square feet, will serve as the nerve center of the company’s lunar program. With advanced manufacturing zones, 3D printing sections, R&D labs, and expansive spacecraft assembly areas, the facility is capable of manufacturing numerous lunar landers and spacecraft simultaneously.

Designed, engineered, and built by Burns & McDonnell, the Lunar Production and Operations Center also includes mission control rooms, offices, meeting spaces, and other amenities for overseeing lunar missions. It features a specialized propulsion test facility known as the “flame range,” which includes a reinforced concrete chamber and a 6,500-square-foot yard. Adjacent to the primary manufacturing operations, this testing facility offers substantial cost savings and enhanced logistical operations.

By streamlining testing and manufacturing processes, Intuitive Machines aims to rapidly innovate, produce engine prototypes and parts on-the-fly, and continuously improve engine design. As the third anchor tenant of the Houston Spaceport, joining Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace, Intuitive Machines adds to the vibrant aerospace community of this FAA-licensed urban commercial spaceport. The Houston Spaceport also serves as a launch and landing site for suborbital, reusable launch vehicles and provides laboratory office space, technology incubator spaces, and expansive hardware production facilities.

With the inauguration of its Lunar Production and Operations Center, Intuitive Machines reinforces its commitment to lunar exploration and establishes itself as a key player in the field. As the world’s first urban commercial spaceport, the Houston Spaceport symbolizes the city’s longstanding legacy in space exploration. With this new facility, Intuitive Machines is poised to contribute significantly to the future of lunar exploration and space travel.

The Houston Spaceport, a significant project in our city, is set to bring forth exciting opportunities in the cosmos. Mayor Sylvester Turner expressed his enthusiasm, emphasizing that the innovation in the aerospace industry is fueling the thriving Houston economy. Houston Airports, responsible for operating and maintaining the Houston Spaceport, has partnered with San Jacinto College to shape the next generation of aerospace professionals.

Their collaborative efforts at the San Jacinto Edge Center, located in the Houston Spaceport, have already yielded positive results. Graduates from the program now proudly hold positions at Intuitive Machines, a leading company in the aerospace industry. Mario Diaz, Director of Aviation for Houston Airports, spoke passionately about the new site, stating that it confirms Houston is home to the fastest growing commercial spaceport and the first and only 5-Star airport in North America.

The partnership between Houston Airports, San Jacinto College, and Intuitive Machines is reshaping the future of travel, innovation, and human potential. This consolidation will foster collaboration among employees and processes from various sites, ensuring streamlined operations as Intuitive Machines works towards its ambitious goal of becoming the first private company to make a lunar landing.

Intuitive Machines recently announced its first mission lunar lander, Nova-C, which will be shipped from its new facility in late October 2023. The lander is scheduled to launch on November 16, 2023, and will deliver five NASA payloads and commercial cargo to the Lunar South Pole. This mission is significant as it marks the first soft landing attempt by the US since Apollo 17 in 1972. It also focuses on various scientific objectives, including studies of plume-surface interactions, radio astronomy, and space weather interactions with the lunar surface.

With additional missions planned for 2024, including a second lander on the IM-2 mission and an IM-3 mission, Intuitive Machines is perfectly positioned with its new facility to further its cutting-edge projects and push the boundaries of space exploration.

It’s an exciting time for the Houston Spaceport and the aerospace industry as a whole. As this field continues to expand and evolve, it’s important to stay updated on the latest news and advancements. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive information and offers from third-party vendors and stay connected with the latest developments in the 3D printing industry.

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