My fabulous plan to land on the Lunar surface this year is not a secret – especially because I had announced that as part of the #MySpaceDream campaign of ESA. And this dream was already announced before I had even launched to my current #MoonDot mission at @MoonDotstation:
Now after almost two months here at MoonDotStation these plans for the first (womanned?!) Lunar landing are getting more and more realistic! And that’s because we have found the key element that will allow this Lunar landing to happen very soon! And this key element is called … drum roll … MOON CRUISER ! Moon Cruiser is a very interesting project by the European aerospace company Airbus Defence & Space ! It will allow to transfer more heavy cargo elements to our mini gateway called MoonDotStation – by acting as an additional stage for current launchers. Please have a look what fantastic opportunities a mini Moon Cruiser will open for us:
Do you agree that these Moon Cruiser operations around the Lunar Gateway are looking quite similar to the ones we do here at MoonDotStation ? Let’s have a look what a mini Moon Cruiser could do for our MoonDot program ! Moon Cruiser could do the transfer of new modules to MoonDotStation – even without SLS launches:
A bigger habitat module could be quite useful here at MoonDotStation. One complication: to launch it and MonCruiser we would need a Falcon Heavy launcher in full expendable mode without recovering any stage. On the other hand, to have a bigger habitat module might allow to have a bigger crew here at MoonDotStation – for example a former colleague (currently not active) could be motivated again to join – even for the Lunar landing.
Back to my planned solo Lunar landing: How could we transport the Lunar lander to MoonDotStation? In a first launch the ascent and descent stages of the lander could be transferred to MoonDotstation by a Moon Cruiser after a launch with a mini Ariane 64:
Well, the fuel for both stages could not be launched with the same launch, it needs to be launched separately ! Another Moon Cruiser could relocate a tanking ship to MoonDotStation ! That ship could look like this one:
An Ariane 6 launcher even with the new black upper stage under development cannot lift all the fuel necessary for ascent and descent stage of my Lunar lander. You would need two launches instead. Our preferred alternative is to order one launch with the more powerful Vulcan Centaur Heavy launcher from United Launch Alliance that could lift all the fuel for my Lunar lander at once. A Falcon Heavy in fully expendable mode could also do the job for the same price. Unfortunately, there are no Falcon Heavy center cores available at the moment as all three launched were lost.
Finally, we would need a transfer stage to move my Lunar lander from the high and very elliptical NRHO orbit of MoonDotStation to a Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) – and eventually back to MoonDotStation as well. Another Moon Cruiser is very well suited to do this job ! That is our planned scenario for my Moon landing in the coming months. Exciting, isn’t it ?
Another launch option is to use a cargo SLS launcher – for instance to launch the entire Lunar lander. We are still open minded here because we still looking for some financial support to be able conduct the full Lunar landing mission. It’s a bit like in the real world somehow.
Now let us conclude how the preferred Lunar landing scenario will look like:
- Launch of the Lunar Lander without fuel by a mini Ariane 64 – with a Moon Cruiser as transfer stage to MoonDotStation
- Launch of a Moon Cruiser Tanking Vehicle by a mini Vulcan Centaur Heavy launcher with fuel for my Lunar lander (alternative launch vehicle mini Falcon Heavy in fully expendable mode)
- Launch of a Moon Cruiser Transfer Vehicle to MoonDotStation with a mini Ariane 64 launch with a black upper stage
- Departure of the Lunar lander from MoonDotStation with help of the Moon Cruiser Transfer Vehicle and flight to LLO
- Separation of the Lunar lander from the Moon Cruiser Transfer Vehicle and Lunar landing
- Launch of the ascent stage of the Lunar lander back to LLO and return to MoonDotStation in NRHO (eventually supported by the Moon Cruiser)
Obviousely, all these launches necessary for getting my Lander ready will take servaral weeks including all the launch preparations and assembly of the payloads. Therefore I will need another resupply mission to MoonDotStation as some supplies will be finished until end of October. That will add another launch to the already busy schedule.
We hope to launch that addditional cargo ship by a mini Ariane 64 with the new black light-weight upper stage. And as ArianeGroup has proposed a cargo ship fitting to that launcher we are considering to launch a mini version of that cargo ship. We will need more information about that cargo ship first.
That Ariane 6 cargo ship launch would already be the 5th mini Ariane 6 launch for my mission. Wow! And we will book at least one mini Vega-C launch as well. And not to forget: we have booked a service together with ESA to bring some scientific instruments to the Lunar surface to test how much water can really be extracted from Lunar soil. And this uncrewed Lunar lander will be launched by another mini Ariane 6 launcher! Really exciting times – and you all can take part in this ! 😉
P.S.: By the way, my Lunar Lander and the first Moon Cruiser are already under construction „inhouse“ ! You may see some first pictures soon at the channels of our boss SpaceHolgar ! And a guest crew is preparing for launch as well! You see that there will be a lot of traffic here at MoonDotStation in the coming weeks!