NASA RETURNS TO THE MOON
As part of its Artemis program, the U.S.'s National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) has selected several Moon landing partners whose goal is to deliver science and technology payloads under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. These unmanned missions pave the way for the eventual return of astronauts to the Moon.
The Lunar Codex leverages this as a client to third-party commercial payload service providers to the NASA partners, Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines.
Lunar Codex files were onboard on the Artemis 1 mission to orbit the Moon and return to Earth from November 16 to December 11, 2022.
Lunar Codex files are now on a MoonPod onboard the lunar lander for Astrobotic Peregrine Mission 1 (PM1) to Oceanus Procellarum. The lander is undergoing NASA acceptance testing prior to being integrated with the launch vehicle in Q1 2023.
Lunar Codex files are now being integrated with the Intuitive Machines Mission 1 (IM1) lander, scheduled for launch to the Lunar South Pole in Q1 2023.
Finally, the Lunar Codex has reserved payload space with Astrobotic for the 2024 Griffin/VIPER mission (GM1) to the Lunar South Pole, to be launched via SpaceX. The Codex is finalizing and documenting its Polaris archive for this mission.
Codex-carrying launches are scheduled over 2022-2024. The Artemis 1 mission is a non-archival mission from perspective of the Lunar Codex project, orbiting the Moon and returning.
Astrobotic Peregrine Lunar Lander
The Peregrine Lunar Lander is a 4-legged vessel 1.9 m high and 2.5 m across, made of aluminum panels and mounting surfaces, with a total mass of 70 kg.
Propulsion is by 5 thrusters at the bottom of the lander, complemented by 4 sets of 3 attitude-control thrusters to maintain orientation. The lander is powered by solar cells at the top of the lander, with energy storage using lithium-ion batteries.
The lander can carry 90 kg of payload, and will carry both scientific payloads such as those from NASA, and commercial payloads including the Lunar Codex's Peregrine archive.
Peregrine is scheduled for launch via United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur from Cape Canaveral, Florida, targeting Sinus Viscotatis, adjacent to the Gruithuisen Domes area and near Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon, no earlier than (NET) July 2023.
Intuitive Machines Nova-C Lunar Lander
The Nova-C Lander is a hexagonal cylinder on 6 legs, powered by solar panels generating 200 W on the surface. The lander is capable of operating for about 14 Earth days in sunlight.
The lander can carry 100 kg of payload to the surface, and will include several NASA scientific payloads and other commercial cargo, including the Lunar Codex time capsule images in the Nova collection.
Nova-C is scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9, around August 2023, destination the South Pole region of the Moon.
Astrobotic Griffin Lunar Lander
The Griffin lander is targeted to land at in a region of interest in the Nobile Crater in the south polar region of the Moon in November 2024.
The spacecraft is expected to operate for 100 days after its landing. NASA's VIPER will be the main payload, shown here on the larger Griffin lander.
VIPER will investigate permanently shadowed regions of craters located in the Moon’s South Pole, specifically for potential deposits of water ice that could be used as resources for future crewed missions.
Other commercial payloads are onboard the Griffin lander, including the Lunar Codex's Polaris archive of contemporary culture as one of the sub-payloads of Astrobotics' commercial payload initiative.
Official mission patches have been released for the Astrobotics Peregrine mission (PM-1), and the Intuitive Machines Nova-C mission (IM-1). An official mission patch for the Astrobotics Griffin mission (GM-1) has yet to be released.
A Note on Artemis I, Orion, and the Lunar Codex
On November 16, 2022, the first mission in the Artemis program launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and returned to Earth on December 11, 2022.
The Artemis 1 mission saw first use of NASA's Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and the Orion spacecraft, and is the vanguard for the later Peregrine, Nova-C, and Griffin/VIPER missions - and ultimately for Artemis 3, the mission that will put the first woman on the Moon.
In the Artemis 1 mission, the un-crewed Orion spacecraft will be launched, orbit the Moon, and then return to Earth.
Along with scientific and educational payloads, Orion will be carrying a flash drive with the Lunar Codex-associated work Three Faces of the Moon. Orion will cruise into lunar orbit and back to Earth.
Because the spacecraft does not land on the Moon, the poems as carried by Orion are not part of the Lunar Codex archives. However, the poems will be re-launched and preserved as part of the Polaris archive on the 2024 Griffin mission.
The original poems returned to Earth - a prelude, like Orion, to the actual lunar landings.