Space company Intuitive Machines has ushered in a new era of lunar exploration with the opening of its Lunar Production and Operations Center in Houston, Texas. The 9800-square-foot facility will serve as the center for the company’s lunar program. This includes the ability to manufacture multiple lunar landers and space probes simultaneously. The construction project, which began in 2021, has specifically incorporated 3D printing areas, manufacturing and production facilities, workshops, research labs, clean rooms and large-scale assembly halls.
According to Intuitive Machines, the proximity of the test facilities to manufacturing offers various advantages. Savings in testing costs and streamlined logistics are just two of them, he says. Adjustments can also be made more quickly. Using technologies such as 3D printing, engineers can now produce prototypes and spare parts for rocket engines in a very short time, allowing them to test the smallest design changes.
At a Sept. 29 press conference, Intuitive Machines confirmed that the first lunar lander, Nova-C, would be delivered from the new facility in the following days. The soon-to-be-scheduled launch is expected to mark the first U.S. soft lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.
Intuitive Machines sees the facility as a gateway to the moon that is also open to NASA and other commercial partners.