A few words about the flight to the Moon
In several occasions we were speaking about interesting technical details concerning the Mission. Today we will talk about the flight itself.
The flight to the moon can be separated into several phases. In the first phase, a commercial launch provider puts the payload into the orbit.
Depending on the type of rocket, detailed vibration and G-loads data are given, so we can design our vehicle to sustain these conditions.Our spacecraft is packed within a protective shroud, with systems in standby mode.
Once we leave the atmosphere, the shroud is cast away and our spacecraft can deploy it's solar arrays and antenae. In the Earth's orbit we navigate related to the Earth's coordinate system. Once we leave the Earth's orbit we navigate in relation to the celestial coordinate system, and finally on landing in relation to the Lunar coordiate system.
When we approach the Moon, we can use two strategies to land. One is a direct landing strategy. This way, we start our descent immediatelly, and the approach speed towards the surface would be about 9000 ft / sec. The fuel burn would be optimized, however, we cannot target the landing site very well. As the Moon has mountains and craters like any other planet, it could happen that we land somewhere in the Lunar "Alps" or the "Himalayans". Deploying a rover and travelling for 500m would be very difficult. On the other side, we could enter a Lunar orbit and land from the orbit. This way we can target our landing site more precise, however, we would burn more fuel and, as the orbit is very low, and the Lunar gravity field is not uniform, we could hit terrain, especially on the other side of the Moon, when we don't have any contact with the spacecraft.
The landing itself is a tricky manouver. A scanning device has to be used to determine that the surface is adequate and to control the landing thrusters!
We hope we provided you with some interesting facts about the travel to our first neighbour, the Moon!