Houston-based autonomous technology developer Intuitive Machines has won a $47M contract from NASA to build a drilling platform for the agency's lunar water ice search mission.
The agency said Saturday it intends for the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment instrument to dig up to 3 feet into the moon's surface and measure the amount of ice that will turn directly into water vapor.
NASA aims to deploy the PRIME-1 payload in December 2022 as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
“We continue to rapidly select vendors from our pool of CLPS vendors to land payloads on the lunar surface, which exemplifies our work to integrate the ingenuity of commercial industry into our efforts at the moon,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA.
PRIME-1 will inform scientific pursuits to study the moon's resources, such as water, in preparation for manned lunar exploration under the Artemis program to bring humans back to the moon and eventually to Mars.