The Moon is one lander away: Alabama-based military contractor Dynetics has built a real-sized mock-up of the potential lander that might soon carry NASA astronauts to the Moon as part of the agency’s Artemis program. Dynetics is one of three companies that received human landing systems (HLS) contracts from NASA for initial design studies of a lander to transport astronauts.
The model of the proposed human lunar lander, which is almost the same size as NASA’s Apollo Moon lander, was unveiled on September 15, and it will be used to further refine the final lander design.
A testing ground for engineers
Kim Doering, Dynetics vice president of space systems, stated, "Our team is pleased to bring this system to life. Our reusable, sustainable approach is ready to support a safe and successful hardware delivery for NASA's mission."
The prototype will be a testing ground for engineers to understand how astronauts will interact with it when it passes its model stage. As of now, it is mostly a playground since different control modules to be used by astronauts to control the lander are just pieces of foam taped to the walls. By moving the foams around, engineers will be able to find the best layout for the astronauts.
The prototype is easy to redesign
In their statement, Dynetics wrote, "The flexible design is readily reconfigurable, allowing the human systems integration (HSI) team and flight crew to review and provide feedback on early concept designs and execute quick-turn iterations."
Doering also stated that Dynetics will be launching an uncrewed demonstration mission showcasing off-Earth refueling and other technologies before Artemis 3 lifts off.
Here is a house-warming tour that you can take inside the prototype:
The Dynetics' prototype came after Blue Origin recently delivered a full-sized mockup of its lander. The third company to win an HLS award, SpaceX, hasn't made any comments about the development of mockups.