. Space Travel News .

Lunar lander firing up for touchdown
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Mar 07, 2012

ESA's Lunar Lander on its approach to the lunar south pole. The larger exhaust flames visible in blue are from the central engines that provide most of the braking. The smaller, outer exhaust flames are generated by modified engines used on ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (right image). Each providing 220 N of thrust, they will steer Lunar Lander to a safe landing site as well as contributing to the braking. Credits: ESA.

Europe's ambition of touching down at the Moon's south pole by 2018 has been boosted by recent test firings of the craft's thrusters. The robot lander will prove new techniques for sending humans to the Moon and assess lunar hazards.

With no atmosphere on the Moon, Lunar Lander cannot rely on parachutes to slow its descent. Instead, the craft will need to fire its engines in a rather unconventional way.

One of these thrusters was recently put through its paces at Astrium's specialised facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany.

The test chamber was configured to reproduce the vacuum and temperatures that Lunar Lander will face on its way down to the Moon's surface.

A complete descent and touchdown was simulated, with the thruster firing in a series of short bursts, reaching a white-hot 1100 degrees C.

According to ESA's Berengere Houdou, the results are positive: "The thruster operations were smooth and stable, with great performance, even under the stress of Lunar Lander's operating conditions."

To save the cost of developing a new engine, ESA engineers looked to the tried-and-tested thrusters of Europe's proven Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) space ferry.

ATV has already completed two fully automated missions to the International Space Station, delivering supplies and boosting the complex to a higher orbit.

The third ATV is set for launch this month.

But landing on the Moon is very different from docking with a space station. Before these tests, it was unclear whether the thrusters would be suitable for a lunar voyage.

Ahead of landing, the craft will orbit the Moon some 100 km above the surface. To descend to the Moon's southern pole, central engines will fire for 10 minutes as the ATV thrusters steer the spacecraft to a safe landing.

There is no GPS for the Moon, so Lunar Lander will navigate by digitally imaging the surface and recognising features.

A laser will complete the picture to avoid hazards such as boulders and craters at the target site.

Lunar Lander's powerful processor will make intelligent decisions to search for a safe area and touch down without human help. European technology will be used throughout.

Related Links
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

And it's 3... 2... 1... blastoff! Discover the thrill of a real-life rocket launch.


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

China to launch moon-landing orbiter in 2013
Beijing (XNA) Mar 06, 2012
China's third lunar probe, Chang'e-3, is expected to be launched next year and conduct a moon landing and lunar explorations, its designer said. Different from the previous two orbiters, Chang'e-3 has "legs" to support the spacecraft in landing, said Ye Peijian, chief commander of Chang'e-3 at China Academy of Space Technology. The orbiter will carry a lunar rover and other instrumen ... read more

Lockheed Martin Selects Alaska's Kodiak Launch Complex To Support Future Athena Launches

The initial Ariane 5 for launch in 2012 completes its final assembly

Arianespace maintains its open dialog with the space insurance sector

SwRI and XCOR agree to pioneering research test flight missions

Community College Scholars Selected to Design Rovers

Slight Cleaning of Opportunity Mars Rover Solar Panels

Surface of Mars an unlikely place for life after 600 million year drought

Camera on NASA Mars Odyssey Tops Decade of Discovery

Looking at the Man in the Moon

Lunar lander firing up for touchdown

China to launch moon-landing orbiter in 2013

Scientists Shed Light On Lunar Impact History

New Horizons on Approach: 22 AU Down, Just 10 to Go

Researchers say galaxy may swarm with 'nomad planets'

New model provides different take on planetary accretion

A Planetary Exo-splosion

Extending the Habitable Zone for Red Dwarf Stars

XCOR Aerospace Closes $5 Million Round of Investment Capital

XCOR Announces New Lynx Vehicle Payload Integrators

Future of Space Transportation

Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne Successfully Completes J-2X Powerpack Test

China hopes to send Long March-5 rocket into space in 2014

Upgraded carrier rocket ready for China's first manned space docking

Long March 7 carrier rocket to lift off in five years

Logistics, recycling key to China's space station

Dear Ups and Dawns

Asteroid 2011 AG5 - A Reality Check

Scientists say big asteroid bears watching

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement