In 1969, Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind. Viewed by over half a billion people around the world, this step propelled space exploration and inspired the next generation of aerospace engineers. An undeniably impactful achievement, humans have since set up the International Space Station, sent satellites billions of miles from Earth, and landed rovers on Mars.
Although we’ve made tremendous advancements since the late 60’s, landing on the moon is still not an easy undertaking. Lunar landings have failed as recently as 2019. Failure is primarily due to the delay of communications between Earth and the moon, which the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) refers to as the “15 minutes of terror”. This delay requires a vehicle to autonomously slow itself down to a safe speed in order to gently land on the moon’s surface. Thus, lunar missions require a robust lander engine and control system in order to successfully complete such a mission.
In 2022, NASA will return to the moon to perform numerous experiments. NASA awarded Intuitive Machines (IM) the first mission task order under the space program’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, delivering five NASA payloads to the surface of the moon.
Intuitive Machines' complete lunar program explores the solar system further to gain valuable knowledge for scientific research. As the premier provider of space services and technologies, Intuitive Machines will send the first American spacecraft to the surface of the moon since the Apollo program, and send the first spacecraft ever to reach the lunar south pole.
Designed by the greatest minds in space flight, IM’s Nova-C lander can carry 130kg, or 286 lbs, of cargo to the moon’s surface. The Nova-C lander, powered by its VR900 engine, comes equipped with innovative avionics for advanced guidance, navigation, and control, making it the ideal choice for NASA’s mission.
Being that electronics on a space vehicle cannot be debugged once they’ve launched, a contract manufacturer (CM) must meet the strictest levels of quality and reliability. A single electrical failure can jeopardize the entire mission. Thus, Intuitive Machines required a partner whose expertise in this field would enable their Nova-C lander to work exactly as intended while minimizing the risk of failures.
In addition, the modern commercial space industry has led to condensed design cycles. In order to meet aggressive development timelines, manufacturers must produce space-rated PCBAs faster than ever. In IM’s case, a reliable, turnkey CM was essential in order to focus on innovating at a rapid pace and develop their lunar lander on time.
Being able to provide quality, speed, and agility, Tempo Automation distinguished themselves as a clear choice for Intuitive Machines. With a proven track record of successful partnerships in the aerospace industry, IM selected Tempo to manufacture boards for the electrical system of their Nova-C lander.
Tempo’s all-digital process automation eliminated human errors during DFM and maintained design intent throughout the entire process. The Tempo platform applied its collective knowledge of every component placement to IM’s design, leading to early insights on assembly risks and higher yields. Tempo’s connected smart factory enabled speed through automation, reducing manufacturing timelines and delivering IM’s boards on time.
Along with these advantages, Tempo Automation is certified to IPC 610 Class 3 and J-STD-001 with Space Addendums standards. Being an IPC trusted partner ensured boards produced by Tempo met the rigorous quality standards required in the aerospace market.
Intuitive Machines iterated their products faster and focused their efforts on innovation by leveraging Tempo Automation’s streamlined process and turnkey solution. NASA's launch is scheduled for early 2022. The Nova-C lander’s powerful V900 engine, developed by Intuitive Machines with Tempo’s flight-rated PCBA manufacturing, will enable NASA to get through the “15 minutes of terror”, and once again reach the surface of the moon, re-establishing America’s dominance on the ultimate high ground.
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