Phase 3: ILRP Human Elements

There have been numerous studies of human settlements on the Moon, both permanent and temporary.  The range of feasible options proposed makes it clear that ... . 

There are a number of different successful ways of establishing the ILRP using today's technology.  Development can begin now.

What is presented below is feasible but notional. 

Participants are not only encouraged but challenged to propose better ideas.  

An excellent starting point for considering how core elements of an International Lunar Research Park might be implemented can be found in "Mission and Implementation of an Affordable Lunar Return" by Paul D. Spudis (Lunar and Planetary Institute) and Tony Lavoie (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center).  The authors provide an excellent starting point for ILRP development concepts.  This paper was submitted to Space Manufacturing  19 December 2010 and can be downloaded from the attachments at the bottom of this page. (Note: When the website goes widely public, we will need permission for reprint)

In each case below, the possible approaches to development are based on current NASA policies and approaches for procurements of this type.  The COTS-Style development approach, which heavily leverages commercial space entrepreneurship, is applicable to all the elements below.  Other development options, especially contributions from other countries, are also possible as was done so effectively in constructing the International Space Station. 

In summary, the International Lunar Research Park, including the Lunar University will require these general capabilities:

1.  Leave Earth: Earth to Orbit Transportation.

Possible Approach to Development:  This is commercially available now.

The Delta IV Heavy, Atlas V, Falcon 9, and a suite of international launch vehicles are immediately available.  The Falcon 9 Heavy test flight is planned for 2012.  It would be possible to use excess international launch capacity, including the unused mass and volume in flights with primary payloads, to launch ILRP construction elements.  (see Depot and Reusable In-Space Transport discussion below)

Click on image above to enlarge.

2.  Stockpile Resources: Resource Depot and Reusable In-Space Transport. 

Possible Approach to Development: This is new, but can be built now with existing technologies. 

Use today’s excess launch capability (available now) on all appropriate launch vehicles with today’s virtual presence (available now) to deliver useful materials to a Resource Depot in Low Earth Orbit (new development needed).  

In most concepts we reviewed, a Space Tug (new development needed) would be required to make this happen, but it could also be built with today's technologies. 

A Resource Depot allows development of the ILRP to begin while a heavy lift vehicle is under construction.  When a heavy lift vehicle becomes available, it can play an important role in the expansion of capabilities of the ILRP as well as support other human exploration scenarios, including to asteroids, the moons of Mars, and the Mars surface.

The Resource Depot and Space Tug could be developed via a COTS-style approach.  This approach enables commercial ownership of the Depot and Tug with NASA as a customer and the owners able to pursue additional markets. 

(Other benefits – technologies developed for the Resource Depot and Space Tug could also enable satellite servicing, orbital debris removal, and human explorations beyond the Moon).  For only one of the several feasible concepts on how an orbiting resource depot could be implemented, Click here.

Supply Energy: Lunar Orbiting Solar Power Station

Possible Approach to Development: This is new, but can be built now with existing technologies.

Use today’s best solar power technologies (available no), satellite station keeping technologies (available now) and automated assembly (new) and power beaming techniques (new) to create a solar power station in Lunar Orbit (new) that beams power to the Moon to provide power for the Lunar Research Park/University.   This potentially could be developed via a COTS-style approach.

In addition, the platform could also be used for communication and navigation.

(Other benefits – provides a testbed for solar power beaming to Earth) See: Ad Astra Lunar Power Beaming pdf downloadable below and

4.  Communications and Navigation 

Possible Approach to Development:  These are commercially available items.

Reusable Earth/Moon Transportation.  

This is new, but can be built now with existing technologies. This capability has existed since Apollo.

Possible Approach to Development:  Adapt and use previously developed Space Tug (New) technologies to allow flights between Low Earth Orbit and Lunar Orbit (or Earth-Moon L1) every 8 or so days to transfer cargo and crew.    See:

6.  Deliver Cargo.  A
utonomously land and launch payloads of increasing sizes to and from the Lunar Surface. 

Possible Approach to Development: This capability was demonstrated 40 years ago in the Apollo program and is being developed by Project Morpheus at the NASA Johnson Space Center.  There are several development approaches that could be appropriate for this today.  It is a critical function and worthy of government investment.  Success would promote the return of samples from extraterrestrial bodies that would be of interest to the science community, a near term benefit.  But this might also be a worthy subject for Centennial Challenges, X-prizes, and others. See:

7.  Return People from the Moon

Possible Approach to Development: COTS Style development. The Lunar Lander X CHALLENGE was a two-level, two million dollar competition requiring a vehicle to simulate trips between the Moon’s surface and lunar orbit. The vehicle was required to rise to a height of 50 meters, translate to a landing pad 100 meters away, land safely, and then return, following the same path. Two levels were defined: one with smooth landing pads, the other with a replica lunar surface as an additional difficulty.

On November 5, 2009, the X PRIZE Foundation along with NASA hosted the NGLLXPC 2009 awards ceremony in Washington D.C.

Masten Space Systems, led by David Masten, was awarded the top $1 million prize.

Armadillo Aerospace, led by id Software founder John Carmack took home the second place prize of $500,000.

The $2 million prize purse, with part of it already awarded to Armadillo Aerospace in 2008, is the largest incentivized prize awarded by the X PRIZE Foundation since the winning of the $10M Ansari X PRIZE in 2004. Click here for more info.

8.  Construct ILRP.  Teleoperated and Robotic Construction via Terrestrial Demonstrations (Lunar Robotic Village) 

This is new, but can be built now with existing technologies.

Possible Approach to Development:  Using today’s technologies and ground based analogs, demonstrate teleoperated and autonomous ground-prep, habitat construction, landing site construction, etc.  (current).  See: PISCES, Desert Rats, 

9.  Live on the Moon.  Habitat Systems - Inflatable Habitats

This is new, but can be built now with existing technologies.

Possible Approach to Development:  COTS Style development.

Inflatable habitats are pressurized modules for use in an outer space environment to support human life. They have frequently been proposed for use in space applications to provide a greater volume of living space for a given mass.  The first serious design and manufacture of an inflatable space habitat was in 1961 with a space station design produced by Goodyear (although this design was never flown).[1] A proposal released in 1989 by Johnson Space Center's Man Systems Division outlined a 16 metres (52 ft) diameter spherical habitat lunar outpost which was partially buried in the lunar surface.

An inflatable module called TransHab (a portmanteau of Trans Habitation) was proposed for the International Space Station,[2] and later the private company Bigelow Aerospace[3] revived the design for its own use as a private space hotel.

10. Work on the Moon.  Laboratories, Garages, and Equipment

There are numerous possible approaches to this development and most are commercially available.

Lynn Harper,
Mar 9, 2011, 7:46 AM
Lynn Harper,
Mar 14, 2011, 3:28 PM