EL SEGUNDO, Calif., July 9, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The lunar lander that will carry NASA astronauts to the moon's surface by the end of the next decade will benefit from more than 50 years of technological change -- and more than 50 years of unique engineering and operational experience from Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), the designer and producer of the original Apollo Lunar Module.
Since late 2006, the company has hosted a series of technical interchange meetings (TIM) with officials from NASA's Lunar Lander project office to share lessons learned from Northrop Grumman's "book" of lander know-how. The intent is to help NASA end up with a robust yet affordable Lunar Lander program.
"NASA knows how to undertake and execute the job of designing, producing and sending a spacecraft to the moon because they've done it before," explained Bob Davis, director of business development for space systems for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "We can help make the learning curve for that undertaking significantly less steep by showing them how they can benefit from what was learned by industry during the original Apollo missions."
Northrop Grumman's most recent TIM with NASA took place in early May at a company facility in Bethpage, N.Y. -- in the same conference room used for design and development meetings by the builders of the original Lunar Module. The meeting included project managers and engineers from Northrop Grumman and a team of NASA representatives led by Lauri Hanson, the space agency's Lunar Lander project manager.
The TIM focused on how lessons learned from the Apollo Lunar Module could be applied to the design and development of a new Lunar Lander and its mission; and how the last 50 years of advances in technology and business practices could help shape and drive a disciplined, productive and cost-effective program. The discussions included topics that ranged from "big picture" considerations such as the design, power and structural load requirements of the lander, to details such as battery profiles and pre-launch test processes.
"These meetings provide an ideal way for us to explore with NASA the new technologies, and business and engineering tools that could best be used to ensure a safe, affordable and operationally effective lunar outpost," said Carl Meade, a former NASA astronaut and Northrop Grumman's Lunar Lander lead. "The collaboration has been particularly effective for identifying issues that need further research, refinement and understanding before we put humans on the moon for extended periods of time."
Issues that warrant additional research, he added, include protection against long-term exposure to space radiation; mitigation and control of lunar dust; and protection of humans and space structures against micrometeoroid strikes.
Northrop Grumman's TIMs with NASA are part of a larger company effort to help the space agency succeed in formulating and conducting space missions to the moon and beyond. Through its sponsorship of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NGLLC), for example, the company is helping foster dialogue and technical cooperation between NASA and commercial entrepreneurs.
Part of NASA's Centennial Challenge series, the NGLLC is an engineering competition that challenges private or commercial enterprises to develop and prove concepts for space vehicles that could ferry humans or cargo back and forth between the lunar surface and lunar orbit. It requires unmanned, rocket-powered vehicles carrying an assigned payload to perform a series of maneuvers that simulate the initial ascent and final descent phases of a trip between the lunar surface and lunar orbit.
The 2007 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge ( http://space.xprize.org/lunar-lander-challenge ) will be held Oct 26-28 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, as part of the 2007 Wirefly X-Prize Air and Space Exposition.
Northrop Grumman is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.
CONTACT: Brooks McKinney, APR Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems (310) 331-6610 office (310) 864-3785 cell firstname.lastname@example.org