This lunar descent module has landed on our Tres Cantos site:
The origins of this real-sized lunar-lander mockup go back to 2010, when the Barcelona Moon Team entered the Google Lunar X Prize (brokered by the NGO “X Price Foundation”). The aim of this competition was to challenge and inspire engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration, specifically in this case to land a robot on the moon. The winning team (from 26 entrants) who got the robot to travel 500 meters over the moon’s surface and transmit data, video and images back to Earth would win a 30-million-dollar prize.
GMV, within the Barcelona Moon Team led by Galactic Suite, acted as technical leader of the whole GLXP-BMT MoonRaise team, including definition of mission architecture and coordination of its various components and systems. GMV in particular took on development of the whole Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) system for all mission phases, from launcher insertion in Earth orbit to landing of the lunar descent module on the moon.
Operational phases of the MoonRaise mission
The LUNAR LANDER, key part of the mission
One of the trickiest parts of the whole mission was the soft, precision landing on the moon. This phase was carried out almost automatically and represented one of the main mission challenges. Once on the surface, the rover would then carry out the obligatory tasks set by Google.
In its minimum configuration the lunar descent module would have a landing mass of 150 kg (with a minimum payload of 20 kg including the rover). In its nominal configuration it would have a landing mass of 250-300 kg (with a minimum payload of 40 kg).
Scheme of the Descent and Landing Phase
Within this mission, working from the 3D design of the lunar lander, a 1:1 scale mockup was made, completely realistic from the outside. The various purposes in mind included trialing of the rover navigation/tracking system once it had been unloaded from the lander and began to move roundabout, preparing for its trip beyond the lander’s eye range.
GMV worked on the “GLXP-BMT MoonRaise” mission up to 2014 during the project’s A and B phases, until the GLXP-BMT team decided to drop the mission after failing to raise C- and D-phase funding. After abandonment of the mission, it was decided to display the mockup on GMV’s site.
An astronaut custodian of the lunar lander mockup
In January of this year GMV temporarily hosted the sculpture “The Astronaut” by the Madrid photographer and sculptor Carlos Roca. The technique used for this contemporary statue is wire-and-plaster figure sculpting and fired clay. The work was created as part of a broader space-related project of the artists’ association La Nave de Colmenar Viejo.
“The Astronaut” Sculpture by Carlos Roca
The sculptor has described the creative process as follows: “I’ve been fascinated by space since childhood. Maybe it was the influence of those two marvelous albums of Tintin that I pored over time and time again until I knew the texts from memory.
The conquest of space, the quintessence of the most cutting-edge technology with the simplest possible approach. I wanted to make this small piece using the most primary, least sophisticated elements: fired clay, plaster, wire. Titans of space made from plaster and clay”.
And the fact is that sculpture and engineering go hand in hand as far as the creative process is concerned. It’s a question of organizing the various elements furnished by our planet to obtain systems that work as harmoniously as possible.
Authors: Cristina Liébana
Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV