Dynetics unveils lunar mock-up

There are three Teams of companies who are building Lunar landers at NASA’s direction.

One is lead by Blue Origin (Jeff Bezo’s company) and includes Lockheed, Northrop Grumman and Draper. They call themselves “The National Team”, NASA calls them the Blue Federation (legal reasons). Their proposal gets the most money, will probably be finished first, and looks the most like Apollo.

Next is the Dynetics Team (the one in the article), which includes my employer, Sierra Nevada Corporation. What we’re building is mostly reusable, the only thing it loses are drop tanks. It can also refuel in orbit.

Finally, there’s SpaceX. They’re getting the least money, but building the biggest “lander” with the most flights. It’s so big you have to use an elevator to get down. Has included pulley system for the rover.

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Cool. But I didn’t see anything about mission. Why go back to the moon?

I’ve heard about mining rare earths and also tritium for nuclear fusion. Those would be good reasons. But is it a staging area and training ground for colonizing Mars? That would be dubious.

Also, I haven’t heard anything recently about building a space elevator on the moon. You can anchor a “rope” on the moon at the exact center (as you look at it from earth) and extend it a long way back toward the earth. The gravity of the earth will hold it taught. This would allow vehicles to tow themselves to and from the surface of the moon, which would eliminate the need for rocket fuel either to do the moon landing or to return to earth.

It would be much easier than building a space elevator on earth because there are no communication satellites to avoid and the tensile strength requirement would be significantly less.

If they’re going to do more than a handful of missions, a space elevator would make a lot of sense.

Remember when Newt Gingrich ran for president and suggested going back to the moon and he was mocked by the Left?

The mission is Artemis. You’ll have to query NASA, Bridenstine or Pence for why.

SpaceX is going there regardless; they have a contract with a Japanese Billionaire to do some flybys. Taking this NASA contract gets them both more development money, and an excuse to practice landing.

SpaceX is going there too, and is going to be building 1 rocket a week to create a fleet to go there en masse.
Each of these rockets will be more powerful than the Saturn V.

So, why pick and choose? If you can do both, and both have upsides, both is good in my book.

Before that we need to master in situeu resource use.
Building anything on the moon with resources from Earth would be an extreme hassle and costly; all three teams want to build up a presence either with moon material or stuff taken from asteroids.

The moon’s crust actually has a similar resource composition to Earth’s, in theory, there’s nothing commodity-wise you couldn’t mine for and make there.

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He wanted to build a colony with an Apollo-esce program. That wasn’t feasible. Too expensive, too small a capsule.

If you want a colony large enough to be a state, only an approach like Spacex’s will do.

National Team Lunar Lander (Blue Origin + Lockheed+ Northrop Grumman+Draper)

As I said, it’s getting the most funding, and will probably be finished first. If any were to be ready in time for 2024, it’d be this one.

Here’s the Dynetics Team Lander (there’s 30 companies on this “team”, but the other main partner is my employer, Sierra Nevada Corporation):

NASA is asking for a 12% budget bump to finalize the Landers. I think competition is good, but even I can’t say if that much money is worth it.

There’s three teams right now (including SpaceX with their “moon” version of Starship), if the bump isn’t approved it’s very likely only one team will go forward.