NASA Contracts Aim For Lunar Surface Systems Concepts

The Constellation Program developing the next-generation U.S. spacecraft system Orion-Ares selected 11 companies and a university to each develop concepts that contribute to how astronauts will live and work on the moon.

Each organization will conduct a 180-day study focused on a topic relevant to lunar surface systems. Selected organizations and topics are:

  • Alternative Packaging Options: Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston
  • Avionics: Honeywell International, Inc. of Glendale, Ariz.
  • Energy Storage: ATK Space Systems Group (Alliant Techsystems) of Brigham City, Utah, Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio, and Hamilton Sundstrand (United Technologies Corp. [UTX]) of Canoga Park, Calif.
  • Minimum Habitation Functions: The Boeing Co. [BA] of Huntington Beach, Calif., ILC Dover of Frederica, Del., and the University of Maryland, College Park
  • Regolith Moving Methods: Astrobotic Technology Inc. of Pittsburgh and Honeybee Robotics of New York
  • Software: The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., and United Space Alliance (Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT]) of Houston

The awards total approximately $2 million, with a maximum individual award of $250,000.

"These studies provide new ideas to help the Constellation Program develop innovative, reliable requirements for the systems that will be used when outposts are established on the moon," said Jeff Hanley, the Constellation Program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Recommendations from the studies will help determine packaging options, identify basic functions for lunar habitats, and conceptualize innovative avionics, computer software, energy storage ideas and equipment and techniques that could help preparation for the lunar outpost site.

The Constellation Program is building NASA’s next generation fleet of spacecraft — including the Ares I and Ares V rockets, the Orion crew capsule, the Altair lunar lander and lunar surface systems — to send humans beyond low Earth orbit and back to the moon. NASA plans to establish a human outpost on the moon through a successive series of lunar missions beginning in 2020. Lunar surface systems may include habitats, pressurized and un-pressurized rovers, communication and navigation elements, electrical power control, and natural resource use.

Lockheed leads the Orion space capsule program. Boeing, ATK and UTX unit Pratt & Whitney Rocketydyne will work on different segments of the Ares program.