Space for fuel for NASA lunar lander

WASHINGTON – The lunar lander under development by Dynamics for NASA’s Artemis program will use in-space refueling of cryogenic propellants and require three launches in quick succession, company officials revealed.

In a September 15 webinar hosted by Dianetics in collaboration with the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, the company discussed the overall architecture for the lander, which is developing as part of NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) program . Dianetics is one of three companies that received an HLS contract from NASA in April for an initial design study of a lander that could take astronauts to and from the lunar surface.

The Dynamics Lander relies on refueling in space to be able to carry out its mission. “Our lander is unique in that we need lunar fuel to fulfill our mission,” said Catherine Laurini, lead HLS payload and commercialization in dynamics during the webinar. “In the next few years, we will move in-space cryogenic propellant refueling technology from lab to T10 10 and operational.” TRL, or technology readiness level, is a measure of the maturity of a technology, and is typically measured on a scale of one to nine.

Refueling will initially be carried out by additional launchers that move the propellant into the lander. The lander will be launched on a joint launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket. For the initial 2024 landing mission, Laurini stated that there would be two additional Vulcan launches after launch. Propellants from the centaur upper stages of those rockets will be transferred to the lander.

One challenge with this approach is with the loss of “boiloff,” or cryogenic propellant, as they are heated. To address this, Dynamics plans to launch Vulcan Centaur at 14 to 20 day centers, or about two to three weeks apart, said Kim Doering, vice president of space systems at Dynamics. “We worked closely with NASA on our concept of operations, and Orion plans, to ensure that our operational landscape is viable and viable.”

This would be a much faster launch rate than Glee’s existing vehicles, the Atlas 5 and Delta 4, have traditionally supported. “We are designing an all set up and launch system to support Rhythm out of the Cape, and on track to do so,” Mark Peller, Ulla vice president, said during the webinar.

The refueling technique in space will be tested before the flight of the crew of the spacecraft. “We have made a plan that will showcase all the important functions of the lander. We will perform in-orbit refueling of the lander, ”said Doering. “We’ll see everything before placing the crew on that lander.”

In the long term, the propellant for the dynamics lander may come from other sources. Laurini said the lander could be a customer for commercial propellant depots around the moon in the future, or use propellants built from water ice extracted on the lunar surface. “Having the ability to replenish our liquid oxygen tanks on the lunar surface may enable new mission orbits,” she said, “such as moving to other parts of the moon to meet some key science objectives.”

Dynamics also used the webinar to show a full-scale model of the lander that it recently completed. The purpose of a low-fidelity lander is primarily to allow astronauts and engineers to test the layout of the lander’s cabin, including the placement of key systems to determine the best locations for that equipment.

Lee Archamboldt, a former NASA astronaut, said that HRA now works as one of the partners of Dianetics on the program. These volumetric representations can be moved around as we decide on the final placement for these systems in our architecture. ”

In addition to the mockup, Dianetics said it has completed both a system requirements review and a certification baseline review for the lander. They were among the initial milestones in a $ 253 million HLS contract from NASA.

Blue Origin announced separately. 14 met similar reviews to the lunar lander developed under the $ 579 million HLS Award, agreeing with NASA on dozens of design and construction standards. Blue Origin is leading a so-called “National Team” consisting of Draper, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. It recently delivered a full-size mockup of its lander for testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as planned for the dynamics model.

SpaceX, the third company to win the HLS Award, has provided some updates on the progress being made on a $ 135 million contract to design a version of its starship reusable launch vehicle for lunar missions. The company did not answer questions about the status of reviews and the development of mockups or other hardware associated with the program.