Human Outpost Servicing at Earth-Moon Lagrange Points & Lunar Cargo

The Earth–Moon Lagrangian point L1, located between the Earth and the Moon, where the gravitational forces cancel each other, allows comparatively easy access to lunar and earth orbits. This location presents an advantage to position a human outpost as a waypoint for deep space missions. Economical and sustainable servicing and re-supplying of this outpost is essential. It can only be achieved with high power electric propulsion.

 

The 200 kW Solar Electric Powered (SEP) VASIMR® cargo tug is well poised to meet these requirements. With initial mass of 50 t in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), it can deliver 37 t of payload to L1, which is 3 times more, than a traditional chemical rocket.

 

In addition to servicing L1, future moon utilization will require a great deal of cargo brought to the lunar surface in the form of facilities, machinery, vehicles, and supplies. Present planning assumes that all of this cargo will be transferred from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to the Moon’s surface by chemical propulsion. However, in Ad Astra’s vision, a 6 month lunar transit using the same 200 kW SEP-VASIMR® cargo tug can deliver more than twice the useful payload than the planned chemical system.

Movies of the SEP-VASIMR® lunar tug concept (left) and a low-thrust trajectory from a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to a Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) using the SEP-VASIMR® lunar tug concept (right). Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company