On November 5, Boeing had submitted a proposal “Fewest Steps to the Moon” to NASA in order to develop a lunar lander. This lunar lander could be launched on a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in a single unit. The company said that its proposal submitted to the Human Landing Services (HLS) program of NASA. This will minimize the other “mission-critical events” and number of launches required for astronauts to land on the moon surface.
According to the senior vice president for space and launch at Boeing Defense, Space, and Security, Mr. Jim Chilton, the “Fewest Steps to the Moon” was developed to approach the safest and direct path to the moon surface with minimum complexity, using the lift capability of SLS Block 1B of NASA. It will enter the lunar orbit when launched on the rocket’s enhanced Block 1B along with the help of Exploration Upper Stage (EUS). It can be combined directly with the Orion spacecraft or the lunar Gateway, where astronauts will board. The lunar lander will be developed in a single piece for launch rather than in various modules. As suggested by other designs, the lander does not require a different transfer phase to move from a rectilinear halo orbit to a low lunar orbit.
In a statement, the company said that this approach reduces the count of mission-critical events to five. Boeing claims that 11 or more events are required by an alternative method. In September, Mr. Doug Cooke, former exploration associate administrator at NASA, consults many companies, including Boeing, at the House hearing supply inquiry. He said: “The less number of critical operations and launches in each mission, the probability of mission success is high.” Boeing joined the “national team” led by Blue Origins, including Draper, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman to seek NASA’s lunar lander contract. On October 22nd, Blue Origin team announced by Mr. Jeff Bezos, the company founder, had submitted the proposal. In contrast, Boeing spokesperson Mr. Steve Siceloff said Boeing has no major partners in similar team arrangements.
NASA hopes to award the initial research contract to several companies by the end of the year and select two companies for the full development of the landers. One for the first landing in 2024 and the other for 2025 mission. However, these plans are awaiting funds for the fiscal year 2020 and are yet to be approved by Congress.