Sunday, March 25, 2007

An Alternative Architecture For Lunar Exploration

NASA is exploring a slightly different architecture for new manned lunar exploration. The existing plan would require the EDS (Earth Departure Stage) to sit in Earth orbit, possibly for months, awaiting the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. Storing cryogenic fuels in orbit for so long jacks up weight and complexity. In the alternate architecture, instead of docking to an EDS in Earth orbit, the Artemis lander and the Orion would each go direct to the moon and dock in lunar orbit.
The new booster could eliminate the Ares V and its EDS. Instead a second Ares IV launch would send the lunar lander, possibly named Artemis, directly to the Moon. After two Ares IV launches, one for Orion and one for Artemis, the vehicles would rendezvous and dock in lunar orbit. In the Apollo programme the crew and service module spacecraft docked with the lunar module in Earth orbit.

No comments: