NASA engineers present opening Lunar Lander design cycle efforts

by David Harris

While the bulk of Constellation’s work currently relates to efforts with Ares and Orion’s tasks of post-shuttle access to the International Space Station, the recent agency-wide “all hands” meeting was presented with video and imagery showing the opening design work on the new Lunar Landers.LDAC-1 (Lunar Design and Analysis Cycle) is the opening salvo of a design effort that will result in NASA astronauts returning to the moon in the latter part of the next decade.




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.

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The ‘all hands’ meeting was an opportunity for the team to show early progress in their design work, which included overviews of the first designs – conceptual drawings that are likely to morph over time in the same way Ares and Orion have over their early design cycles. 

This can be seen by comparing the LDAC-1 images with the current videos that have been used to show the public a computer animated introduction into NASA’s return to the moon plans. The LDAC-1 designs, however, are more in line with previous NASA concepts, unlike the highly ambitious Lockheed Martin presentation on their Lunar Lander study.

Interestingly, with the Orion project currently in the midst of re-baselining Orion via the Zero Base Vehicle process, the Lunar Lander project appears to be using that as a starting point for their project, with the self-titled Minimal Functionality Lander. 

The designs were the cause of excitement at the ‘all hands’ meeting, especially at MSFC (Marshall Space Flight Center), where the bulk of the Constellation design work is taking place.

‘The reality is we’re working on getting back to the moon, and that work begins here,’ said MSFC Director David King at the ‘all hands’ meeting. ‘We have a unique set of skills and capabilities that combine the exploration agenda and all the things that are needed to do that with the scientific component.  

‘This combination makes us unique, and I’m excited to integrate science and the exploration agenda. I hope that you are as excited as I am about making contributions toward making it all happen.’ 

Those attending the ‘all hands’ meetings were shown a large set of videos, including one from the LDAC-1 team on the overview of the new Lunar Landers. (Set of videos – including the 17mb LDAC-1 Lunar Lander video – are available on L2). 

Accompanied by the Led Zeppelin classic ‘It’s been a long time,’ the video made a passing nod at the Apollo landers, before introducing the new team – which includes Apollo astronauts John Young, Fred Haise and Gene Cernan, along with NASA Exploration Architecture Study (ESAS) team member Joe Fragola – experts known to Constellation as ‘grey beards’ due to their experience.

The latter part of the video then shows computer animations of the LSAM (Lunar Surface Access Module) – ‘code named’ Artemis, as revealed by this site in 2006 – in action, before an array of screenshots, varying from computational analysis to CAD drawings and schematics of the vehicle.

The timeline for the Lunar Lander team’s development of the systems is spread out over many years, as expected with around 10 years before the vehicle will make its first trip to the moon. 

The Lunar Capabilities Concept Review (LCCR), scheduled for early 2008, will develop and implement a plan to develop the lunar transportation capabilities architecture. An in-house design team will begin to create a workable plan to execute the mission goal of a lunar outpost in addition to sortie flights.

The in-house study group will work to ‘get smart’ on design so that when it comes time to award a contract, the group will have an excellent set of requirements for it. The contract will be a development contract, not a build to the internal design contract that has been true of Constellation so far. 

LDAC-1, the first lander design cycle, focused not on creating a ‘flyable’ vehicle but to provide a starting point by designing a minimum functionality vehicle. The vehicle’s only goal was to maximize the cargo capacity of a crewed lander with a goal of six metric tons cargo. However, the vehicle delivered less than four metric tons and the strategy was deemed unworkable.

The conclusion of the study is that a cargo only variant is needed for a lunar outpost build-up with the current Ares EOR-LOR architecture. 

Project ATP on the lander is slated for end of 2010/beginning of 2011 timeframe, with CDR in the middle of 2015. LSAM 1 is to be delivered Q1 2018 for Q3 launch.

Selection of L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: ‘Proposed’ Ares I SRBSF (Mini VAB) and graphic. LSAM (LDAC-1) Video and Images. Several Constellation All Hands Videos and Presentations. Ares I Pad Rollercoaster (Old and New presentation and slides – the very cool ‘CGI ride on the Ares pad coaster’ video AVAILABLE NOW. Ares I VAB ‘In-Line’ Stacking presentation slides. Live updates on status of changes to Ares I first stage aft.

Presentation of Ares/Orion impacts relating to Shuttle manifest acceleration. Ares I Interstage diagrams. Ares V Super Crawler. Ares I Launch Pad images (ML etc.) Hi Res images of Ares I-X Upper Stage. Orion 606-7 Data Updates. Updates Constellation launch schedule through to Orion 15. Orion Seat test photos. New ML Graphic and info. New Ares V graphic and baseline data. Large collection of hi res Orion paracute drop tests. 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). ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV. Weather Shield (Rain Shield) for Orion on the pad. New Super hi-res images of Ares I. 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. 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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