The Human Landing System (HLS) National Team of experts from Blue Origin, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Draper have shipped NASA a full-scale mockup of their crew lunar lander for evaluation by the space agency. The National Team, which is led by Blue Origin, focused on the Descent Element and the Ascent Element, ultimately contributing work to NASA’s Artemis lunar mission.
The lunar lander sent to NASA is an engineering prototype that NASA’s Johnson Space Center will test, specifically focusing on the two aforementioned systems. According to Blue Origin, the mockup is more than 40ft tall and is now housed at Building 9 in the Johnson Space Center, where it will remain through early next year.
NASA’s experts will conduct ‘a series of tests and simulations’ on the prototype; Blue Origin expects that its National Team will continue working on the system, which may be used as part of the Artemis lunar mission within the next decade. This testing will help the National Team refine their product, eventually resulting in a final design for production.
Among other things, Blue Origin says the National Team has utilized a ‘modular solution’ that will speed up the rate of progress — by using this type of design, each element can be developed and tested independently, allowing each to be refined and adjusted as necessary without having to adjust the entire system.
Blue Origin VP of Advanced Development Programs Brent Sherwood said:
Testing this engineering mockup for crew interaction is a step toward making this historic mission real. The learning we get from full-scale mockups can’t be done any other way. Benefitting from NASA’s expertise and feedback at this early stage allows us to develop a safe commercial system that meets the agency’s needs.