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LSSW: The Families of Lunar Surface Scenarios April 12, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in Lunar Surface Systems Workshop, NASA.

This is the latest in my ongoing series of coverage of the Lunar Surface Systems Workshop, where oodles of new, advanced concepts for NASA’s future lunar base were shown.

Lunar Surface Architecture Status: Part 3

With the general introductory material out of the way, the first subject looked at is the eleven different families of lunar surface scenarios. Only scenarios 4, 5, and 8 are looked at in detail in the presentation, and I’ll cover those in subsequent posts.

Here’s the list of all 11, and any tidbits of background I have on each:

  • #1: Full Outpost Assembly from LCCR (Trade Set 1)
  • #2: Mobility oriented Outpost from LCCR (Trade Set 2)
  • #3: Habitation oriented Outpost from LCCR (Trade Set 3)

 The LCCR was the first big internal review of lunar base concepts at NASA. (Click here for my post detailing the full skinny on that.) As you see there, there’s three general orientations: full-on everything (=$$$?), an outpost focused more on sorties across the lunar surface, and an outpost focused more on habitation of the primary location.

  • #4: Rebuild of LCCR scenarios increasing crew flights to at least 2 per year
  • #5: Nuclear power based scenarios –Use a fission reactor as the primary power source

The nuclear power scenario, which is one of the three looked at in detail in this PowerPoint, is an alternative to solar—have a shielded or buried nuclear reactor a safe distance from the base.

  • #6: Power beaming scenarios –Consider ways to beam power from orbit or surface to systems

There’s a pretty healthy Wiki article on power beaming in general as a starter, but solar beaming (particularly, from Earth orbit to Earth) has generated some hubbub as a cutting-edge alternative energy source over the medium-term.

  • #7: Recyclable lander –Scenarios that make massive reuse of lander components to build up the Outpost and surface infrastructure
  • #8: Extreme mobility –Scenarios that deploy Small Pressurized Rovers early and use them as primary habitation

The Lunar Electric Rovers are really cool—being pressurized, astronauts won’t need their suits inside them, and they’re designed for sojourns that can last for weeks. One was shown off as a part of President Obama’s inaugural parade, garnering it a whole lot of attention.

  • #9: Improving Lander offloading –Scenarios that support a lander configured to make unloading much less complex
  • #10: Refuelable lander –Scenarios that support a lander designed for multiple flights to and from LLO
  • #11: Mars Centric –Scenarios that optimize Mars exploration ties

A major motivation for the lunar colonial efforts is to prepare for putting a man on Mars–it takes months to get to Mars (versus several days to the Moon), and once there any astronaut would have to stay for months before having a return launch window, and so mastering colonial systems is key to both putting people on Mars, and getting them back alive. The lunar environment is similar to the Martian one, so it’s a natural test bed.


Check back soon for Part 4 of the Lunar Surface Architecture Status: a closer look at Scenario 4 and the lunar architecture’s support technology.




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