Boeing's 'fewest steps to the Moon' proposal for NASA's Human Lander

Eloise Marshall
November 7, 2019

The American aerospace company wants to go to the moon.

It has been 50 years since man first stood on the surface of the moon and within the next decade humanity will return as part of NASA's Artemis mission.

The company's proposal calls for delivering the lander's Ascent Element and Descent Element to lunar orbit in one rocket launch to ensure it is tailored for maximum capability and crew safety.

The company says its plan reduces the complexity involved in sending several different bits of hardware into space on multiple launches.

The Starliner was set on a small launch pad with four engines to simulate an emergency in which the capsule - attached to the top of a rocket - would need to quickly separate to bring the astronauts safely back to Earth. Likewise, the crewed Apollo missions to the Moon in the 1960s and 70s required only one lift-off. A second flight is planned to carry astronauts around the moon aboard an Orion capsule in the 2023 timeframe, following by the first Artemis moon landing mission in 2024.

The test carried to goal to verify the systems of Starliner to see if they will protect the astronauts by carrying them safely away from the launch pad if any unlikely event were to occur.

"Using the lift capability of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1B, we have developed a "Fewest Steps to the Moon" approach that minimizes mission complexity, while offering the safest and most direct path to the lunar surface", Jim Chilton, senior vice president of space and launch for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said in a news release.

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Nasa previously said its preferred option was a lunar lander split into three stages, but it left the door open to "alternative, innovative approaches".

These samples preserve the vertical layering within the lunar soil, and provide information about landslides on airless bodies like the moon and a record of the volatiles trapped within the lunar regolith, said Nasa. The Moon rocks inside this tube have remained untouched since they were collected on the surface and brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts almost 50 years ago.

It can also carry itself from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon without an additional transfer stage or "space tug". "NASA need to build and launch a devoted room-centered infrared study telescope", the invoice says. Right now the company is building the first Block 1 rocket.

NASA now has two "mission slots" set for the mission this Boeing tech aims to meet, one in 2024, then another in 2025.

Boeing said Monday it carried out a successful test of its Starliner crew capsule that is supposed to take U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station, even though one of three main parachutes created to ease it back to earth failed to deploy.

They will dock Orion at the "Lunar Gateway" - a space station that NASA plans to put into orbit around the Moon by 2022 - where they will live and work.

Boeing is a seasoned aerospace company in comparison to Blue Origin, which has only recently entered the space technology segment.

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