Northrop Grumman Corp. has identified a new type of lunar lander that the Golden Spike Co. can use for future commercial human spaceflight.
The low-mass ascent pod nicknamed Pumpkin has a pressurized compartment and propellant tanks with foldable ascent thrusters and landing gear, according to a Northrop statement.
Preliminary sketches show it can fit a payload fairing five meters in diameter.
The concept is among the 180 lunar lander cases assessed in a feasibility study the company recently concluded for GSC.
Aside from the evaluations, the study also laid out propulsion requirements for landing and takeoff exercises and suggested the technologies needed for lunar missions.
The study also prescribed several propellant options—cryogenic, storable and multiple storable—to suit GSC’s mission architecture.
Martin McLaughlin, who led the study for Northrop, said the concept has surface exploration “operability advantages.”
“The surface habitat can be segmented to isolate lunar dust and provides more space for living and for selecting the most valuable lunar return samples,” he said.
“We affectionately call the minimalist ascent pod ‘Pumpkin’ because of its spherical shape and because it returns the crew to orbit after the surface exploration party,” McLaughlin added.