Agency seeks to reduce power and weight requirements for lunar landing programme

NASA is seeking information on technology to significantly reduce the power and weight requirements of robotic missions in support of US space exploration. The solicitation is one of several requests for information (RFI) issued by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center under the Robotic Lunar Exploration Programme.

To pave the way for human exploration, the US space agency plans a series of robotic missions to the Moon beginning in 2008 with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Subsequent missions may include landers and rovers, communications and navigation satellites, as well as bio-sentinels, sub-satellites and other technology demonstrators.

One RFI is seeking technology to increase the capability, adaptability and reliability of space platforms while reducing the power and weight burden on the space system architecture. The LRO is scheduled for launch in October 2008 on a Delta-class booster, but smaller expendable launch vehicles could be used if the robotic probes weighed less than 400kg, says NASA.

Another RFI is seeking concepts for a surface mission to validate whether there is abundant ice trapped in permanently shadowed regions of the lunar poles. A third RFI asks for proposals for a surface mission to determine the radiation environment and demonstrate ways of mitigating the exposure hazard. Both missions are proposed for 2009, each costing less than $300 million.


Source: Flight International