Apollo 17 commander, Apollo 10 lunar module pilot, Gemini 9 mission pilot, with a total of 566h and 15min in space Eugene "Gene" Cernan’s experience is invaluable to NASA’s Constellation programme plans for a return to the Moon by 2020.
Talking to Flightglobal at the Autographica event in London on 12 October Cernan outlined his involvement and experience so far with the US space agency's new Constellation lunar lander project office's work: "We’ve been asked to come back and give our opinions…Some of these young really smart engineers with this new technology can build on what we did and hopefully not do some of the dumb things that we did, and we did make a few mistakes along the way."
NASA set up its new lunar lander project office in May, recruting new staff. According to a timetable obtained by Flight, the lander project office planned to conduct its Lunar Design Analysis Cycle studies one, two and three by this week. After which the work would be independently reviewed, leading to an updated baseline design by mid-February 2008. However the US agency has already started the process to develop a main ascent engine.
Above: A concept Constellation lunar lander's ascent stage launches