Possible landing sites for future Moon missions

The Aristarchus plateau - 50°W, 25°N

Aristarchus crater is located on the edge of the Aristarchus Plateau, one of the most geologically interesting regions of the Moon. It is a complex crater of 40 km wide, 3.5 km deep, that has been formed about 175 millions years ago. The impact straddled the boundary of the plateau and the surrounding mare, thus excavating both very different rock types, as well as underlying crustal rocks.

West wall of Aristarchus crater seen obliquely by the LROC NACs from an altitude of only 26 km. Scene is about 12 km wide at the base. Image NAC M175569775. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

Pit crater/lava tubes - 33.22°E, 8.336°N - Mare Tranquillitatis

Lunar pit craters are small, steep-walled collapse features that suggest subsurface voids. Over 200 pit craters are located in impact melt and are relatively shallow, at about 10 m. However, 10 pits are located in mare highland units and are much deeper, in a range of about 10 to 40 m. These pits may have lava tubes of unknown lateral extent. For those in non-mare impact melt, they may have networks of sub-lunar tubes. 

Right - Five of many LROC Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs) showhigh resolution views of the increasingly famous "Mare Pit Crater" in the Sea of Tranquillitatis.

The Orientale basin - 95°W, 20°S

The Orientale multi-ring basin is the largest lunar impact structure

In fact, it is the most prominent and best preserved. Located on the western limb of the nearside, Orientale contains at least four ring structures encompassing a diameter of 930 km making it one of the largest lunar impact structures. Relative ageing suggests Orientale is the youngest basin with an estimated age of 3.82 Ga (Wilhelms, 1987).

Orientale‟s ring structures are clearly visible at radial distances of 465 km (Montes Cordillera), 310 km (Outer Rook Mountains) and 240 km (Inner Rook Mountains) from its basin center, with another less prominent ring, here referred to as the Inner Shelf Ring, at a radial distance of 160 km. 

Digital Terrain Model ("DTM") of the large Orientale Basin (1100 km diameter), located on the western hemisphere of the Moon, produced from stereo images obtained by LROC's Wide-Angle Camera. The image shows the hill-shaded, color-coded DTM with heights varying from approx. -4,700 m to 9,400 m. 

Other Moonlanding sites considered

. The Schrödinger basin - 135°E, 75°S
. Irregular Mare Patches/Ina Caldera - 5.3°E, 18.66°N
. Magnetic Anomalies and Swirls - 59°W, 7.5°N - Reiner Gamma
. Volatiles at the lunar South Pole: a case study for a mission to AMUNDSEN CRATER
. South Pole - Aitken Basin - 170°W, 53°S
. Gruithuisen Domes - 36.5°N, 40.2°W
. Moscoviense - 147°E, 26°N
. Rima Bode - 3.5°W, 12°N
. The potential for volatiles in the Intercrater Highlands of the lunar North Pole


Tycho crater is one of the most visible and important craters on the Moon due to its extensive, bright ray system.

SOON - All NASA's Constellation Region of interest


ISPACE - Expand our planet. Expand our future.

Japan-based lunar exploration company ispace, inc. raises $90.2 million to be used for development of lunar lander and two lunar missions by 2020.

ISPACE has already started the development of its small, agile and modular lunar lander. The nain goal is to provide a regular transportation service to the Moon.

The kunar lander will accommodate roughly 30kg of payloads, including the two exploration rovers. On these rovers, 5kg of payloads can be carrying.

ROSCOMOS gives OK to LUNA-25

The Russian Luna-Glob mission, currently scheduled for launch in the mid-2020s, will study the physical conditions and composition of the regolith near the lunar south pole, as well as test new soft-landing technologies. The engineering constraints for the mission require that potential landing sites lie between 70-85°S and 0-60°E, and Boguslawsky crater fits the bill and was selected as the primary target.

Geological map, with legend, of Boguslawsky crater based on an LROC WAC mosaic and LROC NAC frames, with two recommended landing ellipses (black dashed).


After close consultation with the five finalist Google Lunar XPRIZE teams over the past several months, the organization have concluded that no team will make a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the March 31st, 2018 deadline. 

The grand prize of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed. However, the competition has provided a incredible boost for the space industry... and, new players are now on the line to provide services to oron the Moon.  


Already very prolific launcher of payloads in space with its Atlas and Delta families, United Launch Alliance (ULA) wants the Moon more accessible for every one. It will be not easy, but very, very possible because its determination and skills are there.

The cis-lunar econosphere is a territory that includes trade routes of business between LEO and GEO orbits, Lunar orbit, Earth/Moon Lagrange Points, and near Earth objects (NEO). These routes permit water and raw material mining, propellant refining and storage, and in-space manufacturing.

Transfer vehicles traveling along these routes will be self-sufficient because of a near endless supply of liquid oxygen (LO2) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) propellants, mined and refined from water on the Moon and asteroids.

New Vulcan. Credit: ULA


Private space companies are on the starting line to develop the Moon's resources. Some, such as Shackleton Energy Company, have big and precise plans to do it.

"We are going back to the Moon to get WATER. There are billions of tons of water on the poles of the Moon. We are going to extract it, turn it into rocket fuel and create fuel stations in the Earth's orbit. Just like on Earth you won't get far on a single tank of gas. What we can do in space today is straight-jacketed by how much fuel we can bring along from the Earth's surface. Our fuel stations will change how we do business in space and jump-start a multi-trillion dollar industry,says Jim Keravala, CEO and co-founder of Shackleton Energy Company Inc.

NASA's Apollo program spent $100 billion and took 7 years to put the first man on the Moon . Shackleton Energy wants a team within 8 years, to provide millions of tonnes of fuel and water for space's customers. That will lay the foundation for space settlement for approximately one-tenth of the cost of Apollo'smission. First revenues are expected within 4 years of program start and full break-even within 12 years.

Shackleton Energy Fuel Depot. Credits: Boeing and Shackleton Energy


Astrobotic is contracting payloads to Trans-Lunar Insertion (TLI), Lunar Orbit, and Surface on the Moon at Lacus Mortis for its First Mission . 

Landers And Rovers. Credit: Astrobotic


In the space industry, it is a fact that, water supports life but also, when transformed in its constituents of Hydrogen (H2) and Oxygen, can be used as rocket fuel for almost all engines.

Moon Express knows much work is needed before its economic exploitation becomes a reality. So, to charter at low cost scientific expeditions, commercial payloads and multiple applications to distant worlds, the company will use many MX spacecrafts. 

Because all missions of Moon Express start in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), its MX spacecrafts have to be launched there by rockets. In order to reach this orbit, the company has signed a contract for 5 launches with Rocket Lab USA, scheduled to start in 2018.


Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove the barriers to commercial space by providing frequent launch opportunities to Low-Earth Orbit. Since its creation in 2006 by Peter Beck, Rocket Lab has delivered a range of complete rocket systems and technologies for fast and affordable payload deployment.

Rocket Lab is a private company, with major investors such as Khosla VenturesBessemer Venture Partners, Data Collective, Promus Ventures, Lockheed Martin and K1W1.

The Rutherford is the first oxygen/kerosene engine to use a 3D machine taking about 24 hours to print all its primary components


- Construction with Regolith

- The latest U.S. missions to the Moon (videos)

- Global Exploration Roadmap (GER)

- Upgradable Lunar Architecture Scenarios

- Possible In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) on the Moon 

Why are some Spacecrafts missions extended?

The 2016 Planetary Mission Senior Review (PMSR-16) was conducted from May16-26th for 9 missions: Curiosity, Dawn, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), Mars Express (MEx), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), New Horizons, Odyssey, Opportunity, and Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN).

Mars Reconnaissance orbiter (MRO). Credit: NASA

Spacecrafts last through their proposed prime mission because they are tested in harsh conditions similar to those found in the space vacuum of their target mission. 

An extended mission is possible when more valuable scientific data can be received and the spacecrafts are fit to pursue their travels in space. For that latter case, engineers designed them to do so.

Space Environmental Effects on Materials

The International Space Station (ISS) provides a challenging research environment with its exposure to extreme heat and cold cycles, ultra vacuum, atomic oxygen and high energy radiation.

Because of those space environmental effects, the ISS has been for many years the ideal place to test future materials to be used in space.

View of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) 6A and 6B Passive Experiment Containers (PECs) on the European Laboratory/Columbus. Photo taken during a fly around of STS-123 Space Shuttle Endeavor.



Launched in October 1997 by a Titan IVB booster rocket with an orbiter of 2,125 kilograms (kg), a probe (Huygens) of 320 kg and 3,132 kg of propellants, the spacecraft weighed a total of 5,712 kg. It is one of the largest, heaviest and most complex interplanetary spacecraft ever built and reached Saturn and its moons in July 2004.

With a total height of nearly 7 m and a 4 m-high-gain antenna on the top, Cassini-Huygens is the most complete interplanetary spacecraft ever constructed by NASA. 

The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft during vibration and thermal testing in 1996. Credit: NASA

Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft has done a Very Good Job!

Cassini-Huygens was a three-axis stabilized spacecraft equipped for 27 diverse science investigations: the Cassini orbiter included 12 instruments and, the Huygens probe, 6. Instruments such as the spectrometers, cosmic dust analyzers, magnetometers, radar and imaging technologies had multiple functions. 

Exceptionally, the spacecraft's instruments, computers, radio transmitters, attitude thrusters and reaction wheel, were powered by 3big Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs).

The UltraViolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), a box of 4 telescopes, creates pictures by observing ultraviolet light. In ultraviolet wavelengths of light, gases are observable and UVIS determines what type it is by splitting the light into its component wavelengths, or colors.

Saturn's auroral emissions are similar to theEarth's Northern Lights. These dual images were taken in 2005 with Cassini's UltraViolet Imaging Spectrograph. Credit: NASA

Color view of Saturn's rings. Credit: NASA/JPL

This ultraviolet's view of Saturn's rings  indicates more ice toward the outer part (in blue), and less in the inner part (in red), hinting attheir origins and evolution.

The Huygens Probe's separation fromCassini Orbiter

Huygens separated from the Cassini spacecraft on December 25, 2004, using aspring-loaded separation mechanism, called the spin eject device. This device provided a nominal relative separation velocity of 33 cm/s and a nominal spin of 7.5 rpm to provide inertial stability during the ballistic trajectory and atmospheric entry. Following release, the probe had no maneuvering capability and functioned autonomously. After 20 days, Huygens arrived at the 1,270-km interface altitude on the predicted trajectory, triggering the sequence to turn on the batteries, the on-board computers, and the sensors and instruments according to the programmed sequence.

Huygens' Probe began its descent through Titan's hazy cloud layers from an altitude of about 1,270 km. First, it had to decelerate from 18,000 to 1,400 km/h using a sequence of parachutes, to slowed it down to less than 300 km/h. At an altitude of 160 km, everything was exposed to Titan'satmosphere. When the Probe reached about 120 km, it replaced the main parachute by a smaller one to complete the 2.25 hour descent. 


Cassini's Grand Finale began on April 22, 2017, when it leaped over Saturn's rings to start its final series of daring dives between the planet and the inner edge of the rings. Each of these orbits took 6 days to complete.

In fact, the spacecraft climbed high above Saturn's North Pole, then plunged to a point just outside the narrow F ring, 22 times, When everything was complete, Cassini plunged into the planet's upper atmosphere and burned up like a meteor, ending the epic mission to the Saturn system. 

NASA's Cassini spacecraft orbited around  Saturn 22 times during its Grand Finale, exploring a new region between the planet and its rings. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Funded by NASA's NIAC program, the company Made in Space has completed its Phase I, named RAMA project. The objective of this concept study is to answer the question: can we utilize space manufacturing activities to convert an asteroid into anautonomous, mechanical spacecraft?


Asteroid Redirect Robotic and Crewed Missions  (almost canceled by WH's decision!)

Then, what was the concept of the Asteroid Redirect Mission?

In November 2015, the Formulation Assessment and Support Team (FAST), drafted its Final Report for NASA`s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). The primary decision was made on March 2015, to select the boulder capture option for the robotic segment of ARM with a launch scheduled for the end of 2021. For the crew's segment, the launch was planned for December 2025. But, it was decided to mature the mission with one more year, 2026.

President OBAMA signs law enabling Commercial Exploration and use of Space Resources

November 25, 2015 –  “The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015” (Space Act) was signed into law today by President Barack Obama.  Designed to facilitate and catalyze the U.S. commercial space industry, the bill also includes regulations that enable prospecting and development of space resources for the first time.


Having a solid capability for in-space assembly of spacecrafts or space systems will enhance the performance of space missions, and reduce their costs. This is exactly the purpose of SALSSA.


Example of large space telescope with sunshield


In November 2015, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) selected Made In Space's project for a public-private partnerships to advance Tipping Point Technologies. Funded by NASA, the project named Archinaut™ was to develop technologies and subsystems to enable the first additive manufacturing, aggregation, and assembly of large and complex systems in space without astronaut extravehicular activity (EVA).

3D Space Manufacturing in ISS. Credit: NASA


. SPACE  SYSTEMS /LORAL: Historical Dragonfly'sProject

. ORBITAL  ATK: CIRAS, The Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services

Crews'preparation for the ISS

NASA and Private Space Companies elaborated a Crew Transportation System (CTS) to orbital destinations based on a Design Reference Missions (DRMs) framework. 

For the CTS to provide successful services to the ISS, 2 major objectives must be met. The first one is to insure a crew rotation capability for 4NASA or NASA-sponsored crew-members.

The second objective is to transport a limited amount of ISS Program-specified pressurized cargo to the Station, to return that cargo and provide a safe haven when the spacecraft is docked. 



Also, at Space Travel - Home

XCOR Aerospace

Founded in 1999, XCOR Aerospace designs and custom-builds propulsion systems, spacecrafts and their rocket engines. 

Since 1999, XCOR has developed more than 15 rocket engines and flown 2rocket-powered aircrafts. Its Lynx spacecraft is developed in Hangar 61 in Mojave, California and, presently, it has an orbital vehicle in the design phase.

Virgin Galactic

In 2004, the British entrepreneur Richard Branson founded Virgin Galactic in Mojave, California. His major goal has always been to promote Space tourism and research.

Until now, almost 700 people have paid $250,000 for a seat in the reusable horizontal take off SpaceShipTwo. 

With the help of the White Knight Two, the SpaceShipTwo will be able to bring up 6 passengers and 2pilots or about 600 kg of payloads. The landing will be in the Spaceport America in New Mexico. 

Blue Origin, LLC

Blue Origin was created in 2000 by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. The headquarter is based at Kent, Washington, and its launch site is at Van Horn, Texas, USA.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard is a rocket-propelled vehicle capable of carrying multiple astronauts into suborbital space. Placed inside a pressurized crew capsule, public and researchers can experiment flying into space in a micro-gravity environment.

Bigelow Aerospace

Robert Bigelow has founded Bigelow Aerospace in 1999 to continue the work started by NASA on expandable habitats. The company’s mission is to provide safe and low-cost commercial space platforms for Low-Earth Orbit, the Moon and beyond.

Sierra Nevada Corporation 

Many have claimed that the end of the shuttle means the end of Americans in Space. But Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has proven them wrong. The company is one of four to receive funding from NASA to carry cargo and crew to the International Space Station.

SNC was founded in January 1963 by a handful of employees working out of a hangar in Stead, Nevada. Later, in January 1994, Fatih  and Eren Ozmen acquired the company.

Their vehicle, the Dream Chaser, looks a lot like the shuttle because it was originally a NASA design.

Funny videos explaining the Saturn Rocket's Propulsion System... Compare the Old School to the New School!

New School

Old School

The Space Launch System (SLS)

The first launch of the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) is scheduled for 2018, with a capability of over 70 t of payload to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). With a payload capacity twice that of  the Space Shuttle, the SLS will go well beyond the LEO. 

As NASA develops the SLS, it also works on the Orion Program and the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program. The Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts into Deep Space for long exploration missions. Through the GSDO Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) facilities will become the next-generation of Spaceport. The main goal is to have capabilities to support many launches by different vehicles.

Named SLS Block 1, it will provide a 70 t payload delivery capability to LEO. This initial SLS test flight will accommodate an uncrewed Orion and a number of Secondary Payloads (SPL). Its purpose is to test SLS launch capabilities and Orion’s ability for safe trans-lunar crew return. This is planned no earlier than 2018 on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1).


. Launch Propulsion Systems

. In-Space Propulsion Technologies

. Some gas used in the Rockets

. Launch and reentry sites

. The Cryogenic Rocket Engines

. Advanced Propulsion Technologies

. Operational Orbital Launch Vehicles

and many more subjects

Why Russian Rocket Engines are so Popular?

Russian and American rocket engines use liquid oxygen as oxidizer and kerosene or RP-1 (some kind of kerosene) as fuel. So, why does a Russian rocket engine like the RD-191 give a specific impulse (Isp) much higher and offer a significant reduction in propellant mass than that of the Americans?

Figure: the Russian RD-191 engine

Operational Orbital Launch Vehicles

By the end of 2016, there were 82 different orbital launch vehicles operating around the world. This figure includes variants of a family of vehicles. For example, there are 10 Atlas V variants defined by the number of solid rocket boosters used, type of fairing by diameter, and type of Centaur upper stage (single or dual engine). Not all of these vehicles are available for commercial use, whereby a payload customer can “shop around” for a ride into orbit.

Launch of theFalcon 9 rocket. Credit: SpaceX

Space Transportation infrastructure Supported by Propellant Depots

Like oases in the desert, the Spaceports network presents outlines ofa pioneering, multi-purpose logistics network of safe havens, enabling human and robotic expansion into the hostile space environment. A spaceport is an infrastructure that provides services for space vehicles and facilitates their departure and arrival.

The Spaceport envisioned includes one depot in LEO, one in Lagrangian-1, and one in Mars' orbit, to support human missions to all destinations of interest.  This operating scenario makes the depots and reusable vehicles part of a permanent infrastructure. Eventually, this infrastructure could support dozens of commercial and/or exploration missions simultaneously, for decades to come.


When a spacecraft does many passes through a planet's atmosphere with only small changes during each pass, meaning when passing from a larger eccentricity to a smaller one, it makes an Aerobraking maneuver. One example of that maneuver is Cassini's Grand Finale on the planet Saturn in September 2017.

Propulsion without fuel is possible when using the techniques of Aeroassit, such as Aerocapture, Aerobraking, Entry and Aerogravity Assist maneuvers.

Some Space Habitat concepts

Space Launch System (SLS) - Habitat Concepts

The Skylab was a large single module habitat that provided about 555 m3 of habitable volume for about 49 metric tons (mt). This is similar to many modules on the ISS where 10times the mass at 450 mt resulted in less habitable volume at 355 m3. In examining the mass statements from the historical and new studies, it was found that the structural mass of the many connections and end domes between modules adds significantly to the total mass. In addition, there are many internal subsystems that are duplicated for each module when multiple modules are used. Then, it is easy to understand how volume can be increased and how mass can be reduced simply by reducing the number of individual elements.

Credit: SLS Derived Concepts - "Habitat Concepts for Deep Space Exploration" by David Smitherman, NASA

ISS Derived Concepts of Space Habitat

The International Space Station (ISS) is composed of a Russian Orbital Segment developed by the Russian Federal Space Agency,  a United States Orbital Segment (USOS) developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

There are several modules remaining in the ISS Program that have been considered for outfitting and utilization on orbit and were previously described for ISS derived Deep Space Habitats. The modules considered are the habitat module (HAB), which was the structural test article for the Destiny module (LAB), the structural test article for the Unity module (Node 1), and two Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (MPLM), Raffaello and Donatello.

Credit: "Habitat Concepts for Deep Space Exploration" by David Smitherman, NASA 

A look inside the DESTINY  LABOTARY. Credit: NASA

The total mass of the 500-day habitat is 45,573 kg with a pressurized volume of 193 m3 and a habitable volume of 90 m3.

At Space Habitat, we look for New Concepts of living In-Space - Comeback soon for UPDATES


PSYCHE: JOURNEY TO A METAL WORLD - Launch: Summer 2022 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida

LUCY: First to visit six trojans Asteroids - Launch: 2021

. EUROPA CLIPPER: In 2017, the project entered its preliminary design phase