The following article is by Fabrizio Boer (Launcher & Spacecraft Engineering, Space Systems Design and Technology Expert in Space Industry, Space Architect) and is published with his permission.
The Lunar Base Launcher or LBL designed by the UK Startup SHIPINSPACE is able to send over 47 Tons of cargo to the Moon surface without needing refueling or a Lunar Gateway.
This capacity is achieved by using a new Launcher architecture based on the use of 10 boosters radially attached to the Fairing and an 11th booster in the center bottom. The 11 boosters permit to get 3 stages (8+2+1) of the Launcher and achieve LEO orbit.
From LEO to the Moon surface the mission is accomplished by the 4th stage internal the Fairing which brings the cargo payload to the Moon.
From LEO to the Moon in one shot
The 4th stage of the LBL is made up of 2 main Units, the power stage with tanks, engine and landing pivotal frame, and the cargo payload Unit. Different cargo payload Units can be attached to one another through the use of a specific docking system that permits an easy centering and clamping, and be released to permit a fast disassembly.
The advantages of this configuration are multiple:
- The use of airbags in the cargo payload Unit permits a quick and efficient holding of the payload without needing any mechanical I/Fs. This much reduced the cost of the payload, its availability and the operations time.
- The cargo Units can be assembled on orbit in LEO automatically by using AI and autonomous rendezvous, this permits to send to LEO the cargo Units in different Launches and increase the flexibility of the mission, assemble them in LEO by reusing the same power unit coming back from the Moon (once refueling will be available on the Moon) or a new one sent over in a separate Launch from Earth.
- Even without the LBL, a reduced diameter Spacecraft can be built and sent over by existing Launchers such as Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, or Ariane 5/6.
- The configuration maximizes the volume for both propellant and cargo payload reducing the empty mass of the Spacecraft.
- Standardization of payload packaging and easy adaptability to variegated typologies of payloads
- Potential, as cargo Unit, to be used as a fuel depot in LEO or another orbit
- Compatibility with existent Launchers offers potential for a scale-down Spacecraft and a project readiness by 2024