Reference Mission Summary
Section 1.3.
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Brief Overview of the Artemis Project Reference Mission

Artemis Project Stack Docked at Orbital Staging Facility

Today the project is looking at many options for launchers and space craft designs for the initial lunar exploration base. We use a reference mission to determine costs, revenues, and technical and political issues.

Two or more launches put the Artemis Project space craft into low Earth orbit, where the components of the moon ship are assembled. The staging base may be the International Space Station, a Space Shuttle, or even an assembly fixture unique to the Artemis Project.

Lunar Transfer Vehicle

The lunar transfer vehicle is a small spaceborne habitat with propulsion systems and support for the crew during flight between Earth and Lunar orbits. The flight follows a trajectory almost identical to the Apollo flights.

Upon arrival in lunar orbit, the habitat with its descent rockets separates from the lunar transfer vehicle and lands on the surface of the moon. The lunar transfer vehicle remains, unmanned, in lunar orbit while the whole crew descends to the surface with the lunar base.

On the moon, the crew levels the lunar base habitat and reconfigures it permanent operation. On their first trip outside, they set up power systems, radiators, and antennas.

Lunar Exploration Base Deployed on the Lunar Surface

During a week-long visit to the moon, the crew assays the area near the landing site and gather samples of the lunar regolith (moon dirt). They film activities throughout the flight, both stock footage and scripted scenes, for later use in movies and documentaries.

When they have completed their stay on the moon, the crew boards the ascent stage and makes the two-hour flight to rendezvous with the orbiting lunar transfer vehicle. The ascent stage is a simple, open vehicle, so crew members depend on their space suits for life support. They can't quickly return to base in an emergency, but otherwise the crew is exposed to no more hazards during the flight to lunar orbit then in any two hours outside on the moon's surface.

Ascent Stage

After docking the ascent stage to the lunar transfer vehicle, our crew returns to Earth and uses their rockets to enter orbit for a rendezvous with their staging base.

They leave the transportation system in orbit for use on later flights. This reduces our cost for future development. The lunar transfer vehicle may be used at the space station for additional laboratory space between flights, or it may be leased for other operations in Earth orbit. After the Artemis Project vehicles have been secured at the space station, the crew returns to Earth's surface in the vehicle that brought them to orbit, or perhaps the next available Space Shuttle flight.

After our crew leaves for home, a telerobot is used to bury the core module in moon dirt for thermal insulation as well as protection from radiation and meteoroids. The robot may also be able to get camera footage of the Artemis stack's initial descent to the lunar surface. This will be first time any vehicle has been recorded landing on the moon.

Reference Mission Summary

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