Airbus is to examine a ‘Moon Cruiser’ concept for the European Space Agency’s Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle (CLTV) requirement to support the future ARTEMIS Moon missions. Based on existing, proven technologies, the vehicle will complement the multipurpose European Large Logistic Lander (EL3).

Lunar missions, including establishing lunar space station, GATEWAY, is a complex and challenging task, requiring a precisely-planned chain of supply and logistics missions. The Airbus Moon Cruiser concept supports these challenges in several ways:

• GATEWAY logistics: CLTV can transport cargo or fuel for refuelling in lunar orbit and to the GATEWAY, a pillar of NASA’s ARTEMIS programme;

• Transfer of a large Lunar Module from GATEWAY into Low Lunar Orbit, to perform landing and ascent missions with larger and more extensive services;

• CLTV’s versatility will also allow it to support missions to post-ISS orbital infrastructure in LEO, as well as GEO satcom servicing missions.

The CLTV's design allows multiple mission types to be conducted with a single vehicle and is compatible with various launchers. Airbus’ solution is a mature, versatile and modular concept, based on an extensive portfolio of mission and vehicle designs by Airbus for ESA, including the ORION European Service Module and five successful Automated Transfer Vehicle space transporter missions, carrying a total of around 30t of cargo into space.

With the Airbus Moon Cruiser concept for CLTV, we are establishing the first building blocks for humans and machines to work together all the way between the Earth and the Moon. CLTV can serve GATEWAY logistics and add value to the EL3 Large Lunar Lander by enabling additional missions, whether standalone for Europe or as part of wider international co-operation,” explained Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus.

The CLTV can be launched on ARIANE 6, and it could transport a module of over 4.5t to the GATEWAY. ESA could deploy the CLTV in the second half of the decade: the target is to validate the following implementation phase of CLTV at the next Ministerial Council in 2022, with the aim of launching in 2027.


Artist’s impression of the CLTV. (Image: Airbus)

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