The moon is a key focus of OHB System’s scientific missions and exploration pursuits. Activities performed to date include Mona Lisa and the (Next) Lunar Lander.
Within the Mona Lisa program, OHB has performed a self-financed study on behalf of DLR to prepare program proposals for lunar exploration. One crucial aspect of these studies involved examining the issues and interests of a wide range of different social groups. The results were incorporated in a program proposal for the sustained use of the moon as a platform for European and German scientific research. This program proposal includes a road map for the exploration of the moon:
Numerous elements of the Mona Lisa study have already found their way into the lunar initiatives being prepared by the German Aerospace Center DLR and the European Space Agency ESA. Thus, Mona Lisa has been able to make a key contribution to European space policy, underscoring OHB System’s commitment to a European lunar program with key German support.
Between 2007 and 2010, an international syndicate lead-managed by OHB System on behalf of ESA studied the feasibility of designs for a small lunar lander with a rover for surface mobility. The study was called NEXT Lunar Lander (later Lunar Lander). The purpose of this mission is to develop and test key technologies for a soft autonomous precision landing and to perform in-situ examinations of the environment at the lunar south pole in preparation of a future robotic or manned mission.
This study explored various mission scenarios, concentrating on the launch system, the transfer trajectories, payloads and rovers. Similarly, a detailed study of illumination conditions at the lunar south pole was also performed.
The technological challenges of this mission lie in the landing and the ambient conditions on the moon’s surface. With respect to the landing, the special factors include the necessary precision plus the required navigation technology as well as the need for the lander to be able to autonomously detect and avoid any surface hazards in the target landing zone. During the final descent, which lasts only a few minutes, any shadowy areas, overly large inclines, ruggedness and obstacles or stones must be detected and, depending on the topology, a safe landing site identified.