goals. The team has test plans within the scope of available resources—that is, test facilities—but the need for full-scale testing is not reflected in the current project plan or the Constellation plan. Individual experiences within the Apollo program are being folded in to the development of the projects, except for the overall experience of equipment being crippled by dust contamination on the surface.
The Lunar Dust Mitigation project plan has well-developed requirements and an appropriate layout of program elements to achieve a TRL of 5. Requirements from many sources are driving the correct program development to satisfy the goals. Outside sources have been sought for expertise in dust mitigation within the mining industry—more interaction with hard-rock mining would enhance this effort. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects are also being used to solicit outside expertise and advance the TRL in some areas. Apollo experiences with dust effects are being folded in to the technology plans. Component-level testing of various mechanisms in a vacuum environment is a good element of this program.
Low-TRL ideas that would be matured later than 2013 are not being considered currently in SBIR or other programs; this will limit the continuity of new ideas being inserted into this project’s long-term goals. The production of regolith simulant in the time necessary to allow for testing also poses a risk to this effort. Currently, the risks are very high owing to the lack of full-scale, long-term testing to prove the effectiveness of the developed products. A full-scale test facility and the testing of equipment (e.g., bearings and seals, robots, EVA suits, crawlers) under long-term exposure are necessary for the ETDP to develop and prove the criticality of these vital resources on the Moon and Mars. The lack of plans to include a full-scale test facility negatively impacts the effectiveness of the effort in a major way and if left unresolved virtually guarantees failure to reach project goals expressed as TRL 6.
The impact of the Lunar Dust Mitigation project on the VSE is clearly enabling, and this is understood by the Constellation Program. Without control of the effects of dust, exploration on the surface would be seriously compromised. Even robotic precursors could be less effective without this control. This is recognized by the NASA team and included in its project plans. The yellow flag rating reflects the lack of any development for the Mars environment—which may have its own problems with dust as shown by the MERs—as the lunar environment appears to be the sole focus of this project.
The Propulsion and Cryogenics Advanced Development (PCAD) project is focused on the development of the ascent and descent propulsion systems for the Lunar Lander. The team is working on three main areas: the descent main engine, the ascent main engine, and reaction control system (RCS) thrusters for the ascent propulsion system. According to NASA, the ascent liquid oxygen/methane (LOX/CH4) main engine is currently at TRL 3, the RCS thrusters are at TRL 4, and the descent main engine is at TRL 5.
The PCAD team is composed of NASA employees and several contractors for the main engines and the RCS. The contractors include major aerospace companies and smaller companies. The PCAD project is well focused