Utilizing a commercial lunar probe to reach geosynchronous orbit around the Earth

Capitalism in space: The commercial startup SpaceFlight Inc has purchased payload space on Intuitive Machines’ second lunar landing mission to the Moon late in ’22 in order to test its Sherpa Escape space tug’s ability to use that flight path to place a satellite into geosynchronous orbit around the Earth.

The tug will also carry the payload of another company, GeoJump, which will test in-space fueling technology developed by another company, Orbit Fab.

Sounds complicated, eh? It isn’t when you think about it. When NASA gave up ownership and design of its lunar landers and instead began buying such products from the private sector, it freed up that private sector to sell its spare payload capacity to anyone who wanted it. On this particular flight Intuitive Machines sold that spare capacity to SpaceFlight, which in turn provided GeoJump and Orbit Fab the space tug for getting their experimental payloads to geosynchronous orbit.

This is a win-win for everyone. Not only are two companies (Intuitive Machines and Spaceflight) making money by selling their capabilities to others, two other companies (GeoJump and Orbit Fab) are now able to test their own space innovations at a much lower cost, and much more quickly than had they depended on a government launch from NASA.