UPDATE 2: The launch of IM-1 was successful! Read here for more.
UPDATE: SpaceX has postponed the launch window of IM-1 to the early morning hours of Feb. 15, 2024. The original launch window was slated for the early hours of Feb. 14, 2024. This post has been updated accordingly.
In just one week, OWC will make its second venture into space in less than four years. This time, it will be as part of a commercial payload test run in support of NASA’s upcoming Artemis moon missions.
In the wee hours of February 15th, a payload containing a storage disk specially made for preserving data in space is planned to launch for the moon aboard a SpaceX craft as part of Intuitive Machines Inc.’s IM-1 mission. OWC Founder and CEO Larry O’Connor will be in attendance for the launch.
The payload, along with several other commercial and NASA payloads, is nestled within an Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C class lunar lander named Odysseus which is slated to land in the South Pole region of the moon. Intuitive Machines is a space exploration, infrastructure and services company and the IM-1 mission represents the company’s first attempted lunar landing as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
Though beset by several delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the evolving schedule of SpaceX launches, IM-1 and the overall CLPS initiative will play a key role in NASA’s Artemis program and humanity’s return to the moon.
With plans to have human boots on lunar soil as early as next year, the payload sent as part of IM-1 will deliver important artifacts and scientific tools that will “lay the foundation for human missions and a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface,” according to Intuitive Machines.
“The exploration of space and development of space faring technologies brings us into a new frontier of exploration and understanding,” says OWC founder and CEO Larry O’Connor. “Because of the harsh realities and scarcities of space itself, the technology enabling our presence there also continues to greatly enhance and improve how we manage, utilize, and protect all that is finite here on Earth.”
OWC supported the creation of the data storage disk payload onboard Odysseus. The storage disk is a small 15-layer nickel stack microfiche time capsule and is designed to be a record of human life on Earth, hold much of humanity’s knowledge, and illustrate what life is like on our home planet.
The microfiche is made by space archival storage company NanoFiche in coordination with Galactic Legacy Labs subsidiary Lunaprise and allows for the etching of the data and messages from 1 million Earth Ambassadors to the nickel surface of the disk with nanotechnology. The disk contains both analog and digital data and is meant to be easily accessed and read by any kind of technology that has magnification and/or is able to process binary code.
Lunaprise states the mission goal is, “To establish a secure lunar repository called the Lunaprise in support of Arch Missions Foundation’s billion-year archive, preserving human knowledge for eternity.” The messages etched to the disk are called “Lunagrams” and thanks to the design of the microfiche, which can withstand radiation and the extreme temperatures of the moon, this data will survive for millions of years.
OWC supplied storage solutions that Lunarpise used to collect this mountain of data here on Earth before using its patented process to etch the data onto the microfiche disk.
The IM-1 mission is headed to the lunar South Pole because NASA has identified this region as one “with characteristics that hold promise for unprecedented deep-space scientific discoveries, like discovering water ice on the Moon,” according to Intuitive Machines.
“OWC is proud to have been the data backend of this real moonshot,” O’Connor says. “Space is the final frontier and it’s opening up. Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin, XPlore, NASA, ESA, ISRO, JAXA, and countless others are driving a new space age and it’s very cool that you can be a part of it through Lunaprise.”
Tickets are available to view the IM-1 launch in person at Cape Canveral. You can purchase tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime event at this link and enter the coupon code LARRY20 to get 20% off.
The IM-1 mission represents OWC’s second step into space. In 2020, an Envoy Pro FX external SSD traveled into space and back on board a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket.
The Envoy Pro FX included content produced by OWC contest participants, as well as OWC employee pictures, and contributions from OWC ambassadors and esteemed artists including BT, Blanco Brown, Brad Paisley, Common Kings, Desmond Child, DragonForce, Kurt Hugo Schneider, Maggie Rose, Postmodern Jukebox, Puddles Pity Party, Smash Mouth, Steve Vai, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tim McGraw, Walk Off the Earth, Weird Al Yankovic, Wyclef Jean, Yngwie Malmsteen, and ZEDD.