USA is in the midst of the Artemis programme to put humans on the Moon once again. NASA is working closely with Boeing for developing the various systems and vehicles which will help achieve this mission. In a latest development, Boeing proposes to deliver the lander’s Ascent Element and Descent Element to lunar orbit in one rocket launch. This is done to ensure the vehicle is tailored for maximum capability and crew safety. This approach helps reduce the complexity as well as the risk of sending multiple segments of the mission into orbit using multiple launches. This strategy will also enable a crewed lunar surface landing using only five mission critical events instead of the 11 or more required by alternate strategies.
Boeing has also proposed that its integrated lander can carry itself from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon without an additional transfer stage or “space tug,”. This will further reduce launches and simplify the steps to a successful landing.
Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Space and Launch for Boeing Defense, Space & Security stated that, ” 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,”
The new approach proposed by Boeing shortens development time and lowers risk, enabling NASA to safely land on the moon’s surface by 2024. The design includes innovations in its engines, composites, and automated landing and rendezvous systems. Key technologies are based on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which will be fully demonstrated and proven during its upcoming Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station in December 2019.