NASA Launches Effort to Develop Human Lunar Landing System

Credit: NASA

Last week, NASA had an industry day for its recently released Human Landing System Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). The space agency is seeking private participation in the development of a landing system capable of delivering astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2028.

The following are excerpts from the PowerPoint presentation give by NASA officials last week that outlined the agency’s plans. The complete slides are here.

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The main goal is to use the moon to test and perfect technologies for use in sending astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.

Credit: NASA

The effort will proceed on parallel tracks, with a series of surface missions and the establishment of a human-tended Lunar Gateway in orbit.

The Gateway is designed to:

  • Enable human crewed missions, including surface missions
  • Meet scientific requirements for lunar discovery and exploration
  • Prove technologies that enable Lunar missions and feed forward to Mars and other deep space destinations.
Credit: NASA

The Gateway will be in a Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit instead of a circular one.

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The development of landers will proceed along parallel paths leading to one capable of carrying astronauts to the surface.

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NASA’s plans for human landing system would double the number of people on the surface from the two who landed during the Apollo program. Sorties on the moon would last for seven days.

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NASA has studied several landing vehicle options.

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The following slides show the buildup of a Notional Human Landing System Reference Architecture

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The program foresees the use of NASA’s Space Launch System as well as commercial boosters.

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By 2028, the United States would land up to four astronauts on the lunar surface. The landing would occur a year prior to the 60th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon by Apollo 11 in July 1969.

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The notional acquistion schedule.

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NASA is looking to develop systems capable of landing at least 9 metric tons on the surface from low lunar orbit (LLO). At minimum, the transfer vehicle would be capable of evolving to be fully reusable.

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The NASA Human Landing System is kicking off with the solicitation of Phase A proposals for firm fixed price contracts for trade studies, long-lead items, and risk reduction prototypes.

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NASA will spend $30 to $40 million in FY 2019 for the six month studies. The solicitation is open to companies, universities and non-profit organizations.

Foreign institutions, NASA civil servants, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) employees, national laboratories, and federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) are not allowed to submit proposals as prime contractors. They may, however, participate as team members.

Proposers’s corporate contribution must total 20% of the overall effort. The figure is reduced to 10% for small businesses.

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The schedule is tight with proposals due on March 25 and contract awards projected for July.

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After the studies are completed, NASA will make up to two awards for design, development test and evaluation (DDT&E) and planned 2024 flight demonstrations.

  • Robert G. Oler

    how long will someone have to train to do a lunar EVA and stay alive?

  • Michael Halpern

    So long as they can’t remove the suit on their own, probably a few minutes, provided some practice within the pressure vessel and a guide

  • Michael Halpern

    Think how long it takes to train tourists for shallow water SCUBA. It really shouldn’t be too different

  • Eric Thiel

    Maybe this idea isn’t that bad. SLS can’t be killed off until the private sector has something bigger that can fly. Jim seems to be working with what he can trying to satisfy people in both government and new space. The private sector can build lunar landers and launch them to the moon. Maybe I’m wrong here but it looks like stopping at LOPG is optional. If SLS and LOPG can get canceled, there will still be a private system that can take cargo and crew to the moon.

  • passinglurker

    Because any form of assembly works better when you have surface to rest things on instead juggling everything loose in your arms.

  • Robert G. Oler

    so shorter then it takes people to qualify for SCUBA…sure

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    Other activities – watch Earth rise (or set). Play basket ball when you can jump 9.81/1.62 = 6.05 times as high as normal. Take a trip in the rover to look at a different crater.

  • Robert G. Oler

    a lunar EVA isNOT shallow water SCUBA

  • Michael Halpern

    It’s walking in los gravity with life support equipment, scuba is swimming with life support equipment if designed right training shouldn’t be difficult just because it’s space doesn’t change the fact that most of the training will be in how to use breathing equipment, it will probably be easier than micro g eva because you still have gravity

  • Robert G. Oler

    well…when I did my four EVA’s in the tank…ie got in the space suit and tried to do some task…or when I learned to SCUBA or a few other things tell me that with todays technology you are incredibly optimistic. anyway we weill see

  • Michael Halpern

    You would engineer the heck out of the suits for ease of use before you have average tourists in them

  • Robert G. Oler

    it will be interesting to see how VG and BO do in their tourist efforts…there is a fine line between designing for ultimate safety with mostly automated systems and well profit. I suspect we will see tourist on the Moon. I am 52…I dont expect it in the next 50 years that I expect to live