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NASA Lunar Lander Reference DesignWith increased emphasis on lunar exploration and scientific investigation, there is a desire to deliver a wide variety of payloads to the lunar surface. Many of these payloads will require the use of surface mobility capability such as a rover. NASA has combined spacecraft and subsystem engineers from across the Agency to develop a ‘pallet’ lander design intended to deliver and easily deploy a medium-sized payload (~300 kg) to the polar regions of the Moon. The lander provides power to the payload from transit soon after lunar landing. The lander is not intended to survive the lunar night. The design of the lander was based on a minimum set of level 1 requirements where traditional risk, mass, and performance trade parameters were weighed lower than cost. In other words, the team did not sacrifice ‘good enough’ for ‘better’ or ‘best.’ As a NASA class D spacecraft (as defined in NPR 8705.4, Risk Classification for NASA Payloads, the lander employs single-string (i.e., zero-fault-tolerant) systems as a baseline. The design utilizes existing technologies and components where possible, though some enhancements have been targeted in areas such as precision autonomous landing and low-cost structural design/fabrication. It is important to note that these and other derived technologies are extensible to other lander designs and missions. This TP describes the requirements and approaches upon which the lander design is based; discusses key design decisions, analyses, and trades used to derive the design; provides a snapshot of each major subsystem; and identifies open items, issues, and challenges for which work is continuing.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Publication (TP)
Kennedy, L. D.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
November 21, 2019
Publication Date
November 1, 2019
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
Single Expert
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