Space

May 8, 2013

Northrop Grumman completes lunar lander study for Golden Spike Company

This figure shows a preliminary sketch of the minimalist ascent pod with surface habitat concept packaged in a five-meter diameter payload fairing. The pressurized compartments and propellant tanks easily fit in the available space. Ascent thrusters are mounted on outriggers that are folded up to fit in the payload fairing and the landing gear is folded inward. Also shown are initial side and top views of the ascent pod “Pumpkin” and the surface habitat with crew members in pressure suits.

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. - Northrop Grumman has completed a feasibility study for a new commercial lunar lander for the Golden Spike Company.

The study confirmed the viability of lander concepts for Golden Spike’s human lunar expedition architecture and conceived a novel new, low-mass ascent stage concept dubbed “Pumpkin.”

Northrop Grumman’s study for Golden Spike conducted the following tasks:

  • Reviewed GSC’s level one requirements and synthesized a set of study ground rules and assumptions emphasizing automated operations, simplicity and low cost.
  • Established propulsion requirements for lunar orbit loiter, descent to the lunar surface, ascent to low lunar orbit and rendezvous with a crew vehicle for pragmatic lunar landing sites.
  • Developed current and stretch factors to reflect the improvement in relevant technologies since the completion of the Apollo program.
  • Evaluated 180 lunar lander cases for various options and sensitivities including loiter, staging, propellants, engines, surface duration, surface cargo and technology basis.
  • Established a pragmatic design trade space for future more detailed analysis and development.

The study determined that for GSC’s mission architecture, there are many more options for all cryogenic propellants compared with storable propellants, but that multiple storable propellant options are possible. Cryogenic propellants have higher performance, but are more difficult to contain for the GSC mission duration than storable propellants such as those used in the Apollo program.

A novel set of options using a minimalist pressurized ascent pod and descent stage with a surface habitat was also studied and shown to be viable. Layout sketches of this concept show that it can be packaged within a five-meter diameter fairing payload envelope.

Three-dimensional solid models with representative crew members established target pressurized volumes for the ascent pod and surface habitat. This unique approach has a good chance of meeting GSC’s objectives with all-storable propellants, which reduces development risks and costs.

Martin McLaughlin, Northrop Grumman’s study lead, said, “This concept has significant operability advantages for surface exploration since the surface habitat can be segmented to isolate lunar dust and provides more space for living and for selecting the most valuable lunar return samples. We affectionately call the minimalist ascent pod ‘Pumpkin’ because of its spherical shape and because it returns the crew to orbit after the surface exploration party.”

Alan Stern, president and chief executive officer, GSC, said, “Northrop Grumman has done an exemplary job and helped advance Golden Spike’s technical approach to renewed human lunar exploration. The study’s results are very exciting and will help enable a new wave of human lunar exploration that Golden Spike plans.”

Northrop Grumman and its legacy companies – Grumman Aerospace and TRW – designed and built the Apollo Lunar Module and Lunar Module Descent Engines.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

NASA Hubble instruments highlight new National Air and Space Museum exhibit

Two instruments that played critical roles in discoveries made by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope now are on display in an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. “Repairing Hubble” recognizes the 24th anniversary of Hubble’s launch into space aboard space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990. The exhibit features Hubble’s Corrective...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio

NASA satellites show drought may take toll on Congo rainforest

Image courtesy of NASA GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio In the Congo rainforest, a browning trend (brown) dominates smaller areas that show a greening trend (green) during April, May and June each year from 2000 to 2012. A ...
 
 

Second series of CASIS-sponsored research payloads launch to ISS

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space is proud to announce several sponsored research payloads have launched to the International Space Station onboard the Space Exploration Technology Corporation’s Dragon cargo capsule. This marks the second series of investigations headed to the station that are sponsored by CASIS, the nonprofit responsible for managing research...
 

 

NASA selects commercial crew program manager

NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation’s space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies. “This is a particularly critical time for...
 
 
NASA image by Kathy Reilly

NASA innovative advanced concept program seeks phase II proposals

NASA image by Kathy Reilly This artist’s concept conveys elements of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program – creative and forward-thinking approaches to aerospace architecture, mission, and system concep...
 
 
nasa-cassini

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons. Images taken w...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>