From Aviationweek.com 2005 November
NASA's Ames Research Center in California is considering two mission architectures for the first lander mission in the upcoming Robotic Lunar Exploration Program, according to RLEP Program Architect Sylvia Cox.
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has primary responsibility for executing the 2010 lander mission, informally dubbed "RLEP 2" because it is the second in the proposed series of robotic lunar explorers that will precede the return of astronauts in 2018. The first RLEP mission is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled for 2008.
Marshall has proposed two RLEP 2 missions with different price tags - a $400 million option and a $750 million option. The choice of mission "will be dependent on how the budget rolls out," Cox said.
RLEP 2 has two major technical goals - to search for water ice or other usable resources in a permanently shadowed lunar crater, and to demonstrate precision landing and hazard avoidance at the lunar poles.
The RLEP 2 team is performing a series of trade studies, including a mobility study on the best method of getting down into a lunar crater. Various concepts for rovers, hoppers and penetrators are being considered, Cox said. The crater exploration probably is only feasible in a $750 million mission, she said.
Marshall was chosen to lead RLEP 2 following an informal six-week competition among NASA centers. Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
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