N3 Launch Vehicle
MOJAVE-10.02.2016---Interorbital Systems, in collaboration with Ed Belbruno, a world-renowned aerodynamicist and interplanetary trajectory analyst/designer, is developing a lunar impact mission that will be attempted in 2017. Dr. Belbruno, founder and CEO of Innovative Orbital Design, Inc., is calculating a lunar trajectory that has a minimum reaction-mass requirement. The payload will be based Interorbital's TubeSat and CubeSat technology.
The mission, designated the "Lunar Bullet," will feature a lunar-direct trajectory ending with a hard impact on the Moon's surface. During the Lunar approach phase of the mission, high-definition video will be transmitted continuously to Earth until impact. The project will be similar to the NASA 'Ranger' mission from the 1960s. Not only will the Lunar Bullet be the first payload launched by a commercial rocket company to the surface of the moon, the IOS/IOD mission will also serve as a precursor to Interorbital's launch of Team SYNERGY MOON's Google Lunar X PRIZE attempt slated for the end of 2017. The Lunar Bullet Mission will verify IOS' launch and interplanetary navigation technology.
The launch vehicle for the "Lunar Bullet" mission will be the IOS NEPTUNE 3 (N3) rocket, which will include an updated version of its Common Propulsion Module, the CPM 2.0. Each CPM 2.0 is assembled from an array of four carbon filament-wound tanks, a single gimballed engine, a valve and controller unit, and a fairing. The CPM 2.0's four-tank array includes three propellant tanks and a single pressurant tank to provide regulated pressurant flow during rocket engine operation. CPM 2.0 has been shown to have substantially improved engine performance. The N3 is a four-stage launch vehicle constructed by bundling three CPM 2.0s. The third- and fourth-stages are composed of a series of IOS Minerva I solid rocket motors. The N3, which has a payload capacity of 23-kgs to 310-km, and the N5, which has a payload capacity of 60-kg to 310-km, will be used for the upcoming launches of IOS' 135 manifested satellites.
The NEPTUNE guidance-and-control hardware and software has also reached a state of readiness for the upcoming guidance test launches.
In more Moon-flight news, Interorbital has completed the design of its Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP) launch vehicle for Team SYNERGY MOON. It will be assembled from eight CPM 2.0s and will include enhanced-performance rocket engines that will deliver 20,000 pounds (88,960-newtons) of thrust each. The launch vehicle has been designated the N8 LUNA. It is capable of launching 500-kg (1,102-lb) into LEO or a 12-kg (26.5-lb) payload to the surface of the Moon. In late August, the XPRIZE verified Team SYNERGY MOON's launch agreement with this statement:
"Today, XPRIZE officially has officially verified Team SYNERGY MOONs launch agreement as part of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition for privately-funded teams to land an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the moon by December 31, 2017. The SYNERGY MOON mission will use a NEPTUNE 8 rocket, built and launched by Interorbital Systems, to carry a lunar lander and at least one rover to the surface of the moon, launching from an open-ocean location off the California coast during the second half of 2017."
IOS is nearing the completion of development and testing of its innovative carbon-composite filament-winding machine, developed in-house. It is capable of winding tanks with a maximum diameter of 30 inches (76 cm) and a maximum length of 30 feet (9 meters). The super-strong and ultra-lightweight propellant and pressurant tanks this winding system is capable of mass-producing, in conjunction with Interorbital's use of high-density storable propellants, will allow the pressure-fed NEPTUNE System Launch Vehicles to efficiently and affordably launch payloads into Earth orbit and beyond at the lowest cost in the world.
Upcoming Lunar Impact Mission and Other Developments
IOS Filament Winder