Boeing Proposes 'Fewest Steps to the Moon' for NASA's Human Lander

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Aerospace giant Boeing has unveiled its proposal for a lander that could take humans to the Moon's surface.

The Boeing lander would be able to dock with the Gateway, a planned space station in lunar orbit, but it would not require it. HLS also doesn't need an additional transfer stage to lower itself from lunar orbit.

Boeing is one of the companies that NASA had selected to design and develop a spacecraft that would transport US astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA says it's aiming to select at least two proposed landing systems by January for further development.

SpaceX is also expected to submit a proposal, one likely based on its Starship reusable launch vehicle under development.

The aerospace company has submitted a proposal to NASA for an integrated Human Lander System (HLS), which it says will be created to reach the moon in the "fewest steps" possible.

Northrop Grumman, which already is under contract to build a Gateway module, would build the "Blue Moon" lander's transfer stage. Two separate teams could be selected to build landers for moon missions in 2024 and 2025.

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

NASA envisions a system that includes a transfer vehicle to ferry a lander from a lunar-orbiting Gateway outpost to an orbit that's closer to the moon, a descent element that would put astronauts onto the surface, and an ascent element that would carry them back to the Gateway.

In this artist's conception, Boeing's Human Lander System heads into orbit on the strength of a Space Launch System rocket.

Using the more powerful block 1B variant of the SLS, company engineers say the Boeing lander's ascent and descent stages could be sent to the moon fully assembled, eliminating the need to "mate" components in lunar orbit that were launched separately. The Orbital Flight Test without crew scheduled for December 17, 2019, should not be affected by the anomaly.

"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."
It could instead dock with Nasa's Orion spacecraft directly for a simpler mission profile.

Under NASA's current plans, though, the Block 1B version of SLS won't be ready in time for a 2024 landing.

"The lander's flexible design allows for the fastest path to lunar flights while providing a robust platform that can perform NASA's full range of exploration missions", according to the Boeing statement.

The aerospace giant is promising advances in the design that include innovations in its engines, composites, and automated landing and rendezvous systems.

According to current plans, would be on the 17th of december, an - unmanned - test flight will take place of the Starliner to the worldwide space station (ISS).

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