Development of a Local Transportation Infrastructure for Human Lunar Exploration

TitleDevelopment of a Local Transportation Infrastructure for Human Lunar Exploration
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsAkin DL
Conference NameAIAA Space 2009 Conference and Exhibit
Date Published09/2009
Conference LocationPasadena, California

Recent events indicate that future human missions to the moon may not result in the creation of an extensive outpost, as per the current Constellation plans, but may be more in line with individual Apollo sorties to isolated sites of scientific interest. Especially on missions as short as seven days, it would be highly beneficial to have a number of options for extended surface exploration, including pressurized rovers for long-range missions and lunar flying vehicles for access to isolated sites such as crater or rille floors or mountain tops. However, the current designs for lunar missions, and particularly the Altair lander, are limited to only a few hundred kilograms of landed payload. To address this shortfall, the concept of an ancillary mission element is proposed: an augmentation to the basic mission which is effectively independent, so that the baseline human mission can be successful even if the ancillary mission fails. In this case, a single Delta IV Heavy mission is selected to carry the additional transportation infrastructure to the lunar surface prior to the crew’s arrival. This paper examines two studies recently performed at the University of Maryland on pressurized rovers and lunar flying vehicles, and modifies the designs to accommodate this mission.The report summarizes a study of lunar payload delivery based on the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle, and reviews the details of the two transport vehicles. The analysis shows that both vehicles can be transported to the moon on a single expendable launch vehicle, and that the different systems are complementary in terms of providing enhanced science return and safety for the lunar crew.