Commercial Landing & Exploration Technology Offerings for the Lunar Surface from TeamIndus
TeamIndus through its participation in the Google Lunar XPIZE (GLXP) has developed various technologies towards lowering the access barrier to the lunar surface. An incomplete list of these technologies is: (1) Spacecraft structures & mechanisms for soft-landing, (2) Guidance, navigation and control for lunar descent & landing, (3) Vision-based approach & terminal guidance for precision soft-landing, (4) Wheeled microrobots for lunar surface exploration, (5) Absolute navigation for lunar surface rovers and (6) Multi-purpose compact electronics package for lunar surface science. HHK-1, the spacecraft for the first mission, has completed qualification and is poised for launch in 2018. It consists of a lander, carrying 16kg of payload to the Mare Imbrium basin, near Annegrit Crater. The payloads on HHK-1 include: (1) ECA Lunar Rover developed by TeamIndus, (2) SORATO Lunar Rover developed by ISPACE, (3) Six 350g scientific experiment packages designed by university teams, engineered and qualified by TeamIndus, (4) LUCI – Lunar Ultraviolet Cosmic Imager developed jointly by Indian Institute of Astrophysics and TeamIndus, and (5) MoonLIGHT-2, a laser retroreflector developed by Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati. TeamIndus has already started work on the follow-up mission, currently codenamed AxLM2 with 3 variants: (1) Land & deploy one 200kg surface payload package, or (2) Return 1kg of surface sample, or (3) Land multiple payloads adding up to 160kg. The AxLM2 mission greatly re-uses technologies developed in the first mission, hence providing reliability and repeatability for the scientists, commercial prospectors and financial stakeholders alike. Technology demonstrators for non-radioactive lunar night survival and sample return are the core technology focus in AxLM2, while depending upon the larger lunar scientific community to make up the rest of the payload capacity. There is an urgent need to catch up with the long-pending goals of the Decadal Surveys (DS) and the various Discovery class and New Frontiers class missions that have not been funded due to the current cost of access to the lunar surface. The technologies developed and operated by commercial spaceflight companies can bring down this access barrier progressively through each mission. This will enable greater lunar traffic, greater volume of science, and expand the benefits in terms of workforce employment and economies that will be created through commercial activities on the Moon.