Space

Boeing unveils "fewest steps" lunar lander plan

Boeing unveils "fewest steps" ...
Following the exploration of the lunar surface by astronauts, the crew lifts off from the Moon inside the Ascent Element in this artist concept
Following the exploration of the lunar surface by astronauts, the crew lifts off from the Moon inside the Ascent Element in this artist concept
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Boeing’s Human Lander System heads into orbit on the strength of a Space Launch System rocket in this artist concept
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Boeing’s Human Lander System heads into orbit on the strength of a Space Launch System rocket in this artist concept
Following the exploration of the lunar surface by astronauts, the crew lifts off from the Moon inside the Ascent Element in this artist concept
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Following the exploration of the lunar surface by astronauts, the crew lifts off from the Moon inside the Ascent Element in this artist concept

Boeing has presented NASA with a new proposal for a simplified plan to return US astronauts to the Moon by 2024 as part of the space agency's Artemis program. By using NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), the company proposes a way of delivering its integrated Human Lander System (HLS) to the lunar surface and returning it to orbit with as few steps as possible.

The acronym KISS, standing for Keep It Simple, Stupid, isn't just a glib expression, it contains a very real truth that engineers strive to follow. When all other factors are equal, the simplest design and the plan with the fewest steps is the most likely to be the most successful. This is because every added step and every added component introduces one more opportunity for something to go wrong.

That seems to be the thinking behind Boeing's new strategy for a manned lunar landing. The main innovation involves eliminating the need for a space tug to deliver the HLS to the Moon by sending it there directly using the SLS. According to the company, this approach, which is similar to that used in the Apollo landings, would reduce the number of mission-critical steps for a landing from over 11 to only five.

Boeing’s Human Lander System heads into orbit on the strength of a Space Launch System rocket in this artist concept
Boeing’s Human Lander System heads into orbit on the strength of a Space Launch System rocket in this artist concept

The SLS, which will be the most powerful rocket ever deployed, will allow heavy payloads to be sent directly to the Moon, allowing a more flexible approach and shortening development time to meet NASA's 2024 deadline. In addition, the lander is being designed to incorporate technology from Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft that will allow it to work with both NASA's Gateway lunar orbiter and the Orion spacecraft, the latter which would allow the HLS to make a landing without the need for a third spacecraft to return the astronauts to Earth.

"Using the lift capability of NASA’s Space Launch System 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," says Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Space and Launch for Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Source: Boeing

3 comments
Colt12
Sounds like the late 60's and early 70's.
ljaques
Why aren't they going to use the 9 Heavy Rocket of Elon's?
Travis Matlock
The design is too large to fit inside a falcon heavy faring and making it big enough would ruin the rockets aerodynamics. Basically boeing and MD have been making moon plans that require a very specific rocket named the SLS and dont work with any real hardware. This helps ensure they will stay on the SLS gravy train, which is itself just a continuation of the shuttle gravy train. SLS is a decade late and billions over budget. All we have so far is a bunch of animations and some old shuttle engines strapped to a fuel tank.