Lockheed studies Centaur applications for Lunar Lander concepts

by Chris Bergin

Lockheed Martin has recently proposed the use of the Centaur stage as the basis for the new Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM, or simply lunar lander). The plan involves adapting the Centaur for robotic precursor missions with a human lander following.

A previous exclusive on this site revealed the proposed Lockheed Martin lander concepts of the Dual-Axis Thrust Lander, Retro-Propulsion Lander, and Single-Stage Lander. The Retro-Lander and the Dual-Axis Lander form the basis of the Centaur-Derived Lander.
Huge amounts of VSE related insider news and presentations – THE most comprehensive place to follow Ares/Orion development – are available for download on L2. See list at the end of this article.


**ARES V / Mars Transport Vehicle (MTV) LIVE UPDATE PAGES**

On L2: Lockheed Martin: Centaur Application to Robotic and Crewed Lunar Lander Evolution Presentation, March 2007. Lockheed Martin’s Lunar Lander Configurations Presentation. Atlas Human Rating Black Zone Closure Presentation. EXTRATERRESTRIAL MATERIALS PROCESSING AND CONSTRUCTION (Historical) Presentation. NASA Lunar Lander Updates. ESAS Alt: Atlas X. Atlas Human Rating Presentations. Atlas/Bigelow presentations/Latest.

The Centaur is currently used as the upper stage in the Atlas V launch vehicle with one or two RL-10 engines. Each LH/LOX RL-10 engine produces 22,290 (10,097 kg) of thrust with a specific impulse of 451 sec. The current placeholder ESAS design for a LSAM used 4 RL-10 engines in the descent stage and now uses 1 RL-10 in the ascent stage.

Before any human system is developed, the Centaur stage is adapted for use in lunar precursor missions. Launched by an Atlas Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) with three Common Core boosters, the 28mT vehicle first performs a Trans Lunar Injection burn (TLI), followed by a Lunar Orbit Insertion burn (LOI), and finally a descent burn. The entire stage lands horizontally with special maneuvering thrusters located along the side of the vehicle.

Curiously, the vehicle is equipped with four wheels, apparently for nonzero forward velocity landings. The cargo to the lunar surface is 2mt. In order to achieve the longer duration missions to the moon, the Centaur will require upgrading to the propellant storage system during the flight to the moon. This is expected to add about 800 kg to the system.

During the human missions, the vehicle will be required to loiter in LEO for about 30 days to wait for Orion – and then the ascent stage must wait on the surface for up to six months. A sunshield, extensive insulation, and an efficient cooling and heating systems are planed.

Following the robotic precursor missions, the human system will be designed. Based off of the Dual Axis and Retro Landers, the dual engine Centaur will make the descent burn, and then transfer power to the reactionary final descent thrusters.

The entire system, including the Centaur, lands of the surface – the overall design can be liked to the Harrier jet. The descent Centaur then provides power from folding solar arrays and fuel cells for in a sortie configuration on the surface. The stage can also be used as a power facility for an outpost. Like the robotic vehicle, the human lander employs wheels for mobility.

A key feature of the design is the location of the crew habitat for easy surface access, as it is less than a meter above the ground. Cargo is placed at chest level under the solar panels on the descent stage. Engine-out capability is provided during all phases of the flight, and multiple descent thrusters can fail before the landing is in jeopardy.

Solar panels are carefully arranged on the vehicle to prevent kicked up surface material from damaging the arrays. 17 kW of power is available during peak sunlight, and 8 kW is available during lunar night. Missions could last more than an entire lunar day, or the descent stage could provide power and environmental control for an outpost.

A 4.6m ascent stage provides crew habituation on two levels with 29m3 of habitable volume. The flight deck is located on the lower level with extremely large windows for excellent visibility. The upper level contains more habitation facilities for the crew. Two airlocks are located near the bottom the ascent stage.

One can be used as a ‘door’ to an inflatable habitat, while the other used as an airlock. A cylinder behind the habitat provides space for avionics and ascent propellant. The descent stage provides the power and environmental control for the ascent stage.

For ascent, the ascent stage thrusts upward and away from the descent stage to avoid damaging the stage, which might have uses in an outpost. Full power is then applied to achieve lunar orbit with a maximum acceleration of 1g. Excess propellant from the descent stage can be transferred to the ascent stage for lift off and Orion rendezvous. Cargo to lunar orbit is about 1,400 lbs or 700 kg.

This design is part of an ongoing series by Lockheed Martin to evaluate as many options as possible for the LSAM before the final concept is defined many years from now. Lockheed Martin also is developing the Orion CEV, due for flight in early 2015. The first lunar mission is scheduled for 2020. 

Selection of L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: SIX Part Series of Ares I Upper Stage Graphical Overviews. DAC-1C DDD Vast Slides on Vehicle Design. ATK First Stage Presentation. 39B Lightning Towers Slides. DAC-1C Departure points to DAC-2 Upper Stage Graphcs (Many Changes).

Orion/CEV Display Layout Presentation (40 pages) – Feb 5. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV – Feb 2. Weather Shield (Rain Shield) for Orion on the pad – Feb 1. New Super hi-res images of Ares I – Feb 1. ATK Cutaway graphics of Ares I – perspective and axonometric – Feb 1. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. CEV Paracute Assembly System (CPAS) Presentation.

Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) overview presentation – Jan 16. Major changes to Ares I Upper Stage – expansive details and data. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. Saturn Twang Test Video for use with Ares I-1R. CLV Umbilical Trade Matrix XLS.

Vehicle interfaces for the DAC 1C version of Orion Ares – Jan 3. Ares I-1R Test Flight Plan (full outline) Presentation. Ares I-1 timeline and modification expanded info. Ares I troubleshooting latest. Ares I Reference Trajectory. Boeing’s STS to Ares – Lessons Learned Presentation. Latest Ares I and Ares V baseline Configuration image and data. CLV DAC-1C (Changes to CLV Upper Stage).

Ares I-1: Four Seg+Dummy ‘Tuna Can’ stage. Ascent Developmental Flight Test Presentation. CLV Pad 39B Handover Info and Latest. New images of CLV on top of new MLP and LUT. Lockheed Martin CEV/Orion Updates. Constellation news updates. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV.

90 Minute Video of Constellation all hands meeting. CLV TIM Meeting Information. CLV/CaLV Infrastructure, Timelines and Information. Escape System Trade Study Presentation.

CEV-CLV Design Analysis Cycle Review (DAC-2) Presentation. Constellation SRR updates. CLV Stick – Troubleshooting/Alternatives/Updates. New CEV Images (include abort mode). Flight Design and Dynamics Division CEV update. CLV Mono-propellant RCS system. CEV pressurisation system review. CLV/CEV Configuration Images. The 2×3 Seg SRB Crew Launch Vehicle Option Presentation…plus more.

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