Lunar Surface Cargo Offloading Concepts



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51st International Conference on Environmental Systems


A sustainable presence on the lunar surface will serve as a vital training ground and technology demonstration test site in preparation for future human missions to Mars. Robotic lunar surface campaigns will focus on the exploration of resources providing information on the availability and extraction of usable resources, such as oxygen and water, and prepare the surface for a sustained human presence. Landers, outfitted with sensor packages, will be used to conduct risk-reduction activities and aid in the development of technologies prior to the crewed lunar missions that drive the need to for a logistics supply chain that requires offloading.

A series of landers will be required on other planetary surfaces to build up the capabilities, capitalizing on those resources, required for sustained human presence. In each of those landers will be cargo including ascent vehicles, habitats, supplies, science packages, spare parts, fluids commodities for fuel and life support, and others varying in volume and ranging from mass in hundreds of kilograms to an estimated 6-14 metric tons to support Human Landing Systems and surface logistics requirements. This paper will examine the challenge of offloading examples of these cargo elements from different categories of landers on the lunar surface using a variety of methodologies. Challenges on the lunar surface arise with the conditions present (thermal, lighting, communications, regolith consistency), the desire to minimize mass of all landed systems, the desire to perform much of the activities with limited to minimal human interaction, and the overall configuration of the landers that are responsible for landing the cargo.


Tracy Gill, NASA, US
Jaime De Jesus Gomez Jr., NASA, US
Don Pittman, NASA, US
Mark Lewis, NASA, US
Kara Beaton, The Aerospace Corporation, US
Steven Chappell, The Aerospace Corporation, US
Paul Kessler, NASA, US
ICES502: Space Architecture
The 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, on 10 July 2022 through 14 July 2022.


Lunar Surface Operations, Cargo Offloading, Artemis