But despite the potential for scientific advancement, the primary goal of this lunar lander mission is to demonstrate technologies for executing a soft, precision landing.
“It’s about lunar exploration, but it’s also about new technologies,” says Michael Menking, senior vice president of orbital systems and space exploration at Astrium. “What’s important is we use and include the European skills and competencies, with Canada an associated member.”
The vehicle is to be powered by five lightweight, 500-newton European Apogee Motors (EAMs) being developed by Astrium Satellites for use on large geostationary platforms. During the lander’s decent, its precision movements would be guided in part by six 220-newton thrusters developed for the ATV, along with technologies that enable the cargo tug’s unique rendezvous and docking capability.
Menking says the lander’s own physics will constrain its entry, descent and landing to a 90-sec. window, during which it will achieve a maximum vertical velocity of 3 mps (meters per second) with horizontal velocity of 1 mps as it approaches a target landing radius of no more than 200 meters.
Using only solar energy for operation on the lunar surface, Menking says the lander could place a small Moon rover and various stationary experiments on the lunar surface to conduct scientific research over a period of about six months, with results determined in situ to be transmitted to Earth.