Late Breaking News: Intuitive Machines Live from Space Symposium 2024

CNBC anchor Morgan Brennan spoke April 11 with Intuitive Machines Vice President of Production and Operations Jack Fischer, and IBX CEO and Intuitive Machines Co-founder Dr. Kam Ghaffarian. The interview begins at 7:13 on the video.

Intuitive Machines leadership speaks with CNBC's Morgan Brennan about the February lunar landing of its IM-1 vehicle.

Intuitive Machines leadership speaks with CNBC’s Morgan Brennan about the February lunar landing of its IM-1 vehicle.

The conversation was part of the final day of programming for Space Foundation‘s 39th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Symposium featured more than 300 speakers and hundreds of space industry exhibitors.

A roller coaster landing

Fischer is a command pilot astronaut with more than 3,000 hours in 40-plus aircraft. He has spent 136 days in space and conducted two spacewalks. Following his retirement from NASA, Fischer joined Intuitive Machines and was part of the IM-1 team.

He described landing the lunar vehicle remotely on the South Pole of the Moon as a roller coaster of emotion. That was heightened given that personnel had to adapt landing techniques. The signals to the craft were bouncing off the surface of the Moon, complicating communications once the lander was on the surface.

“It was a thrill a minute, and it really opened the gateway to a lot of technologies that are going to enable human exploration going forward, so really exciting times,” he told Brennan.

Ghaffarian founded the innovation and investment firm IBX.  It explores new frontiers in technology, space and energy. Ghaffarian also serves as executive chairman for Intuitive Machines. He was at home with Covid-19 and had to watch the landing away from the team. Still, he was jumping, crying and clapping as he watched.

“I was incredibly proud of the entire team,” he said. “It was also incredibly humbling…I was so honored for our country to be able to land on the surface of the Moon after 52 years.”

Landing IM-1

On Feb. 22, Intuitive Machines became the first private company to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon. This also signified the first American spacecraft on the lunar surface since 1972. The 2024 Q1 edition of The Space Report includes an interview with Intuitive Machines personnel in a feature article detailing all lunar landing attempts and successes since 2020.

Following this landing success, NASA announced that Intuitive Machines was one of three U.S. companies selected to design and develop lunar terrain vehicles (LTVs) that may be used by Artemis astronauts. The LTVs are planned to be operated autonomously and by astronauts. The vehicles have been described as a hybrid of the Apollo-style lunar rover and an uncrewed mobile science platform.

Over the next year, the company will conduct a feasibility task order for NASA, developing the LTV as well as its launch and landing procedures. The LTV will need to be on the lunar surface prior to the Artemis 5 crew landing currently planned for 2029.