A Cis-Lunar Lander

Athena-Final-1024x576To colonize the moon or any other body in our solar system we will need to create a robust lander capable of taking 20-25 people and cargo from low-Earth orbit to the lunar surface and back. To use disposable landers like Apollo would be wasteful and make no economic sense. These new landers must be efficient and powerful with a multi-engine design and have numerous levels of redundancy in all critical functions. We see vehicles with these design features everyday in modern passenger aircraft, and large ocean going ships.

The Gateway Foundation will fund the development of a robust, reliable, and powerful Cis-lunar shuttle.  A conceptual shuttle was designed for just such a purpose, more than forty years ago. The design of the craft that will be funded by The Gateway Foundation will have comparable capabilities. This new craft will be called Athena.

To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.
Stephen Hawking

One of the more crucial aspects of building a lunar shuttle designed to carry far more people than the Apollo Lunar Module, is the superior versatility and comfort level that comes with a much larger vehicle. Tourists and workers going to the moon will have room to move around its comfortable interior and better enjoy the seven-day round trip.  This kind of vehicle will be absolutely essential to take travelers and cargo to the moon.

Perhaps the greatest challenge when building a cis-lunar shuttle will be that of engine design.  Previous designs where based around a core of advanced nuclear engines that were in development during the Apollo program.  This program was stopped when America decided to build the Space Shuttle, which targeted lower launch costs for achieving low-earth orbit.  These advanced engine designs were revived in the late eighties / early nineties which had significant advances with new materials.  Restarting an advanced engine program will be much easier with a practical application waiting in the wings, and easier still with Gateway money for funding.  The Gateway Lunar Bridge program will provide both.