What future lunar vehicles will look like

The European Space Agency, a key partner in NASA’s lunar exploration program, hopes to gain enough capability to carry out its own missions fully autonomously. Therefore, it began to work on a multi-purpose lunar lander and an Earth-moon transfer lunar cruiser, based on the tradition of Orion and ATV service modules. This lunar cruiser will be available for a variety of missions, not just the moon. Federico Massobrio, Head of Preliminary Projects in the Thales Alenia Space Exploration Area, answered our questions.

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ESA hopes to conquer moon and its surroundings.main partner NASA inside put up from gateway by executing Esprit and I-HA modulesA generation’ESA Vehicle service modules are also available Orion From NASA.But it also aims to equip itself with a European Heavy Logistics Lander (Large European Logistics LanderEL3) and an Earth-Moon Multipurpose Transporter to resupply gatewaybuilt on Orion anda television.

The European Space Agency, looking to gain enough power to carry out its own missions fully autonomously (understanding and not relying on NASA’s goodwill), discovered the multipurpose lunar lander EL3 and the lunar transfer cruiser cislunar, two interesting concepts . Especially since they allow to perform a wide variety of tasks, and with regard to CLTV (shunyue transfer vehicle), it can be used not only for the moon. As a result, the European Space Agency signed two research contracts in January with Thales Alenia Space and Airbus to validate the concept of this versatile Earth-Moon CLTV transfer vehicle.

CLTV, multifunctional logistics vehicle

With this CLTV, Europe can equip itself with space vehicles that can travel between the two placestrack The Earth and Moon contribute to the gateway’s logistics with a significant carrying capacity of over 4.5 tons. For example, this lunar ATV could provide timely and efficient support for NASA and ESA on future Artemis lunar missions, and could even serve as a reliable alternative to SLS.space launch system) and others pitcher Especially suitable for all logistics tasks, such as cargo transfer, on-orbit assembly, sample return, from low earth orbit to cislunar space.In addition, the versatility of CLTV will also enable it to support infrastructure tasks track Post-ISS Low Earth Orbit and Missions in the Field of Service geostationary satellite.

As you’ll understand, it’s not a vehicle designed for human transportation, but a general-purpose logistics vehicle that can be used for a variety of space exploration missions from low Earth orbit to terrestrial and lunar environments.This car will be Ariadne 6even the transmitter Vega C in the case of multiple starts. First flight in 2027.

That said, only at the next meeting of the ESA Ministerial Council, currently scheduled for the end of 2022, will member states decide on the fate of the EL3 and CLTV projects, or just fund one or the other of the two. , or even abandon them, which seems unlikely.

Federico Massobrio, pre-project leader in the Thales Alenia Space exploration area, gave us some details, and his company won the CLTV research contract.

What is your general idea in terms of construction (shape) and properties (length, width, mass, fuel carrying capacity, solar panels, etc.)?

Federico Massobrio: The vehicle should be very flexible considering the variety of tasks it has to perform: logistical supply of pressurized modules space station Sun Moon LOP-G (lunar orbit platform – gateway), come on propellanttransport infrastructure in low Earth orbit (Leo) and potential complementary missions to lunar landers. Therefore, system resources and associated transmission capabilities will largely depend on its final destination.

Will this car use a modified version of the Orion Service Module (ESM), or would you prefer to provide ESA with a completely different vehicle from the Orion Service Module?

Federico Massobrio: Considering the fact that the ESM is specifically integrated into the Orion composite designed for launch on the SLS, the mainframe of which is supplied by the United States, it is difficult to imagine a direct derivative of the ESM. However, innovative European solutions must be identified to provide ESA with a competitive logistics and utility vehicle.

Does this car look like a Cygnus freighter powered by a service module?

Federico Massobrio: For pressurized freight tasks, the most suitable components are selected based on a needs analysis. matter environment, interface and livability, period life and affordable costs. Cygnus Just one of the most promising solutions currently being researched.

If the cargo part of this car will come from Cygnus modules, what improvements are needed (diameter, dimensions, radiation, micrometeorites…)?

Federico Massobrio: Everything depends on the intended mission — whether it’s low orbit or LOP-G — and its duration and habitability. Regardless of which final formula is chosen, the modular approach will allow different tasks to be accomplished with minimal changes.

Will the mooring system be a mooring mechanism designed around ESA IBDM Common Criteria?

Federico Massobrio: Again, everything depends on the target (LEO, LOP-G or other) and the type of cargo (cargo, propellant, infrastructure).

Will the vehicle spend “its life” in space, or will it return to Earth from time to time?

Federico Massobrio: Currently, reusable versions of CLTV are not considered unless space knight Considered potentially significant in terms of means of transport.

Can we envision a freight/cargo transport module that will be launched into orbit, and then a service module will retrieve it and take it to the gateway?

Federico Massobrio: Indeed multi-launch options are being investigated to improve current capabilities pitcher European markets, but will also raise questions of cost and business opportunities.

Could derivatives of this vehicle (all, part or some elements) be used for other projects in development, such as SpaceRider and on-orbit services?

Federico Massobrio: Space logistics, propellant refueling, on-orbit assembly and OOS (on-orbit service) Definitely part of the next generation of space programs.This is why the future synergy These areas will be actively pursued in the near future.

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