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Transportation System

In order to carry out manned Lunar missions without having to develop a massive Saturn-V size launch vehicle, the Earth-Orbit Rendezvous method must be used. Using this technique, the Trans Lunar Injection Vehicle (TLIV), the Lunar Orbit/Trans Earth Injection Vehicle (LOTEIV), and the Lunar Hopper (LH) will be assembled into a single spacecraft,  piecemeal in Earth orbit by the Neptune 4000 launch vehicle.  Since the entire Lunar mission hardware will weigh approximately 60,000 pounds (27,211 Kg), seven Neptune 4000 launches will be required for each mission.

Trans Lunar Injection Vehicle (TLIV)
The weight of the TLIV including the weight of the landing and return system will be approximately 60,000 pounds (27,210 Kg) of which approximately 45,000 pounds (19,974 Kg) will be propellant weight. Five Neptune 4000 flights will be required to launch a fully fueled TLIV. One more launch will be needed to place the reentry capsule and Lunar Hopper into Earth orbit. The first flight will place a special Neptune 4000 second stage into orbit with one propellant tank containing 20% of the required propellants. Once on orbit, the main second stage propellant tanks will be jettisoned and deorbited. The restartable second stage engine and TLIV tank adaptor with attached propellant tank section will remain in orbit. Four more flights will be made to deliver the other four filled propellant tanks to the TLIV section. These will be docked autonomously with the TLIV tank adaptor. The required propellant tanks will be launched by a Neptune 4000 rocket with a special third stage called the Autonomous Cargo Delivery Vehicle (ACDV). The ACDV will be similar to the Russian Progress cargo delivery vehicle. Like the Progress, it will have autonomous docking capability.

Lunar Orbit Trans Earth Injection Vehicle (LOTEIV)
The actual configuration of this vehicle will depend on whether the Lunar mission is a two person manned return mission or an unmanned cargo mission. In both cases, the same vehicle will be used to place the payload into Lunar orbit. For unmanned cargo missions, the cargo will be staged in Lunar Obit and landed at the Lunar Station site using its own landing system. For manned missions, a larger propellant tank will be included and the same vehicle will be used to send the attached manned reentry capsule and its occupants back to earth for direct Earth atmosphere reentry.

Reentry Capsule
For manned missions, the two Lunar explorers will ride to and from the moon in a small Reentry Capsule. The Reentry Capsule will be equipped with 10 days of life-support supplies. The Lunar Explorers will be launched into Earth orbit with the Lunar Hopper as soon as the transfer vehicle has been assembled. Just prior to the trans lunar injection burn, the capsule will be docked with the LOTEIV. The two person reentry capsule is based on the Apollo capsule design, a design that has been proven for return missions from the Moon. In addition, aerodynamic data is available. The reentry capsule is also fitted with Remora space suit docking equipment and Remora* space suit shrouds. On return from the Moon, the capsule will follow a ballistic reentry trajectory and land by parachute in the Pacific Ocean near the Trans Lunar Research Pacific Launch Complex or the TLR South Pacific island spaceport.

Lunar Habitat Canister
Each manned mission will include at least two unmanned cargo missions. The most important unit to be delivered will be the Habitat Canister (HC). Each Habitat Canister will be approximately 10 feet (3 m) in diameter and 20 feet (6.1 m) long and weigh approximately 6,000 pounds (2721 Kg). The HC's will contain power systems (fuel cell backup and solar), a life-support system, oxygen, nitrogen, food, water, and a science laboratory. It will have a 30-day supply for two Lunar explorers. The HC's will be landed at the Lunar Station site with forward mounted rockets and ACS system with their landings cushioned by an airbag system. The airbag system will also be used to place the HC in the proper orientation on the surface.

Supply and Hardware Canister
In addition to the Habitat Canisters (HC's), a Supply and Hardware Canister (SHC) will be utilized to land supplies, agricultural, and manufacturing equipment. Supplies include liquid nitrogen, food, and water. These supplies will be needed until indigenous Lunar water is found and is able to be processed. In addition, oxygen manufacturing equipment, a lightweight bulldozer or other type of earth mover, and an Agricultural Canister (AC) will be landed. Lunar agriculture experimentation will begin within 30-days after the base is occupied. SHC's can also be sent in the event of an emergency.


Lunar Hopper Landing in Shackleton Crater

Lunar Hopper
For manned missions, the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous method will be used to get the Lunar explorers to and from the Lunar Surface. This method greatly reduces the overall required mission propellant weight. It produces a weight saving of as much as 40% over the weight requirements for a Lunar Direct landing. Since even before the manned flight is initiated, the Lunar Station will already have life support equipment (Habitat Canister) and supplies, the ascent/descent vehicle (the Lunar Hopper) can be made lightweight and simple. The TLR Lunar Hopper (LH) is a two person, two-stage open cabin vehicle. Weighing only 2,600 pounds (1179 Kg), the Lunar Hopper will include separate ascent and descent liquid rocket engines and a single attitude control system. Before the descent to the Lunar Station, the Lunar explorers will enter their Remora space suits* through two hatches in the side of the reentry capsule, detach their Remora suits from the reentry capsule space suit docking collars,  and pull themselves into the Lunar Hopper which is attached by an adaptor to the forward end of the reentry capsule. They will then detach and  ride the Lunar Hopper, open to the vacuum of space, to the Lunar surface. The Remora  partial hard space suits are designed to allow their wearers to enter and exit through a chest hatch/docking collar. Once at the Lunar Station site, they can dismount the Lunar Hopper, walk to the Habitat Canister, attach their suit's docking collar to the HC's docking collar, pressurize the docking collar tunnel, open the HC' hatch and the space suit chest hatch, squat down, and crawl into the HC. The Remora space suits remain outside, pressurized, and attached to the Habitat Canister.  This system eliminates the need for a special airlock, eliminates most air loss, and prevents the transfer of Lunar dust into the HC. 

Return to Earth
While the Lunar explorers are at the Lunar Station, the LOTEIV will remain orbiting the moon, unmanned. Its internal guidance system will automatically maintain its orbit. When it is time for the Lunar explorers to return to earth, they will mount the Lunar Hopper and launch into Lunar Orbit. The descent section will remain on the Lunar surface. The ascent stage of the Lunar Hopper will weigh less than 1,000 pounds (454 Kg). The Lunar Hopper will rendezvous with the LOTEIV and the crew will transfer to the reentry capsule through their Remora space suit docking collars. After they transfer, the Lunar Hopper will be deorbited. Later, the LOTEIV engines will be fired to return the Reentry capsule to Earth. 

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