By Graham Warwick in Washington DC

NASA has issued a request for information on lunar lander concept studies to refine initial ideas on a Lunar Surface Access Module (LASM) for its exploration architecture. The initial LASM design has been affected by changes to the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and Crew Launch Vehicle, particularly the decision to defer the liquid oxygen/methane propulsion system for the CEV and LASM ascent stage and use storable propellants instead.

Bidders are asked for innovative lander design concepts and options for deploying a lunar outpost incrementally, with pieces packaged within the excess landed mass. A second phase will refine the design, produce cost estimates, development schedules and risk assessments, and identify any robotic precursor flight experiments.

The studies will assume a CLV trans-lunar injection mass capability of 53.6t, with the LASM performing all control during the coast and lunar orbit injection. The CEV will remain in a 100km circular orbit while four crew descend to the surface in the LASM.

Source: Flight International