Humanity has entered the era of true space tourism. Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic offer sub-orbital adventures, the Russians offer film crew trips to the Space Station and SpaceX offers 3 day trips in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). This highly reusable Vestal Lunar concept takes this one step further and imagines what a system that could support lunar tourism might be like. This concept first assumes that SpaceX's HLS Starship proposal to NASA functions well and meets requirements. This concept next assumes that the fictional Vestal Lunar Corp can purchase an HLS Starship system and modify it for direct LEO to Lunar Surface and back to LEO operations. To accomplish this the bottom 30 m of HLS Starship (the main fuel tanks and engines) needs the ability to separate and later re-dock to the Lunar Lander in lunar orbit (making it an Orbital Transfer Vehicle). This allows the lander to have total dry mass of 50 tonnes and carry up to 10 tonnes of crew and cargo to the moon surface. After a 10 day stay the lander leaves the moon, reconnects with the OTV, then all returns to LEO. The crew return to the Earth surface. The system is refueled, restocked over a month. A new crew arrives and the adventure is repeated (perhaps to a different Lunar landing location).
The SpaceX HLS Starship proposal to answer NASA's Artemis Human Landing System (HLS) is assumed to work well. This may be first exercised in the 2024-2026 timeframe. But, given the very high expense and very limited trip rate of Artemis due to use of SLS/Orion to move crew from Earth to lunar orbit and back, our fictional Vestal Lunar Corporation seeks an architecture that reused HLS Starship technology with a direct from LEO (Low Earth Orbit) to lunar surface and back to LEO solution. This concept leverages the maximum number of currently proven or soon to be proven components and services. First, tourists will travel from Earth to LEO (and back) with the proven Crew Dragon/Falcon 9 service that recently serviced the recent Inspiration 4 LEO tourism mission. Next, the concept will use as much of the HLS Starship solution as possible including SpaceX's Vacuum Raptor Engines. Otherwise, the concept will use other commercial NASA technologies as applicable.
A reference solution is provided that needs review, additional detailing and new ideas. More specifically:
1) Assuming 4 people minimum and 8 maximum, what features, structures, equipment, supplies and technology should be included in the 10 tonne mass allotment within the main pressure vessel that is the crew cabin of the Lunar Lander. As this is a tourist operation some mass for fun features and equipment is expected! But also consider safety options like how to deal with a rare but dangerous solar storm.
2) What should be the crew mix? 2 experienced Vestal Lunar staff are assumed, with 2-5 tourists on a mission.
3) The concept has two cargo pods (4 tonne each) that can carry 2 tonne each of mission specific surface equipment such as rovers. What might be good uses for these 4 tonnes?
4) What kind of surface activities would be good for a 10 day sunlit stay?
5) Where might the tourists land?
6) To keep prices down (maybe $100M per person per trip), how else can we make money with the concept, such as renting the lander out as a hotel in LEO?
This is an informal competition that invite you to submit short reviews, comments, ideas, refinements or just about anything that our fictional Vestal Lunar Corporation (VLC) might use to refine and improve the solution. This includes any technical "show stoppers" that could prevent this concept from working.
You must factor in information provided in the VLS_OVERVIEW_V1.0 PDF (26 slides) that is found in the resources tab for this challenge. Conformance to this information will factor into scoring of submissions. If possible, please reference the page/slide number when making specific comments or adding ideas. Please also consider more technical items in VLS_TECHINFO_V1.0 also in the resources tab.
If your idea involves timing, costing or potential SpaceX business issues, please assume for the sake of analysis:
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