P31A-1885: A Sustainable Architecture for Lunar Resource Prospecting from an EML-based Exploration Platform

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Authors: Kurt Klaus1, Kevin Post1, Samuel J Lawrence2

Author Institutions: 1. Space Exploration, The Boeing Company, Houston, TX, USA; 2. School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

Introduction – We present a point of departure architecture for prospecting for Lunar Resources from an Exploration Platform at the Earth – Moon Lagrange points. Included in our study are launch vehicle, cis-lunar transportation architecture, habitat requirements and utilization, lander/rover concepts and sample return. Different transfer design techniques can be explored by mission designers, testing various propulsive systems, maneuvers, rendezvous, and other in-space and surface operations. Understanding the availability of high and low energy trajectory transfer options opens up the possibility of exploring the human and logistics support mission design space and deriving solutions never before contemplated. For sample return missions from the lunar surface, low-energy transfers could be utilized between EML platform and the surface as well as return of samples to EML-based spacecraft. Human Habitation at the Exploration Platform – Telerobotic and telepresence capabilities are considered by the agency to be “grand challenges”รน for space technology. While human visits to the lunar surface provide optimal opportunities for field geologic exploration, on-orbit telerobotics may provide attractive early opportunities for geologic exploration, resource prospecting, and other precursor activities in advance of human exploration campaigns and ISRU processing. The Exploration Platform provides a perfect port for a small lander which could be refueled and used for multiple missions including sample return. The EVA and robotic capabilities of the EML Exploration Platform allow the lander to be serviced both internally and externally, based on operational requirements. The placement of the platform at an EML point allows the lander to access any site on the lunar surface, thus providing the global lunar surface access that is commonly understood to be required in order to enable a robust lunar exploration program. Designing the sample return lander for low-energy trajectories would reduce the overall mass and potentially increase the sample return mass. The Initial Lunar Mission -Building upon Apollo sample investigations, the recent results of the LRO/LCROSS, international missions such as Chandrayaan-1, and legacy missions including Lunar Prospector, and Clementine, among the most important science and exploration goals is surface prospecting for lunar resources and to provide ground truth for orbital observations. Being able to constrain resource production potential will allow us to estimate the prospect for reducing the size of payloads launched from Earth required for Solar System exploration. Flight opportunities for something like the NASA RESOLVE instrument suite to areas of high science and exploration interest could be used to refine and improve future Exploration architectures, reducing the outlays required for cis-lunar operations. Summary – EML points are excellent for placement of a semi-permanent human-tended Exploration Platform both in the near term, while providing important infrastructure and deep-space experience that will be built upon to gradually increase long-term operational capabilities.

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