Towards a Community-led Lunar Accidents, Incidents, and Issues Reporting System (LAIIRS)

Open Lunar Foundation has decided to build on its past work on the Lunar Registry of Objects and Activities to investigate the creation of a community-led Lunar Accidents, Incidents, and Issues Reporting System.

Recent missions such as Peregrine Mission One and Intuitive Machines 1 are indicating the eventual return of humans to the surface of the Moon, with many more missions and technologies on the way to cislunar space and the Lunar surface. To support the long-term goal of uninterrupted human presence on the Moon, there are also global plans to develop and deploy a variety of technologies and demonstrations on the Lunar surface as exemplified by the Global Exploration Roadmap, ranging from Lunar landers to nuclear power sources to roving vehicles to greenhouses. These efforts are led by government and industry actors from different countries, presenting unique challenges in coordinating efforts among different players.

This is not the first time explorers have attempted to create a long-term presence in another environment. Our past experiences here on Earth have shown us two things:

  1. Whenever we have had such an interest in exploring an environment, we have ended up damaging it. One can simply think of the exploration of the Americas, and the damage to the rich culture and history of this continent that resulted from this lucrative endeavour.

  2. In the face of such an increased interest and growing efforts to gain a foothold in another environment, we have always made mistakes, learned from them and then created standards and regulations to not repeat the mistakes again. Safety regulations in aviation and transportation sector, or even something as simple as a building code are the results of these trials and errors. 

These past trends underscore the importance of coordinating efforts, establishing accountability mechanisms, and developing processes to document errors, gather insights from different actors and learn lessons which can be enshrined in the form of community guidelines, standards and regulations to enable sustainable exploration and development in the highly sought environment.

But this process has historically taken a long time! It took about 40 years to develop serious regulations in aviation, and building codes in their current form were created in the 1940s. Considering the harsh and high-stakes environment of the Moon, we cannot wait that long! The issues in surface operations faced by platforms such as HAKUTO-R M1 Lunar lander, Astrobiotic’s PeregrineIntuitive Machines lander, and Israel's Beresheet Spacecraft show not only the importance of acting fast to capture the lessons learned from these incidents but also the opportunity for future missions and the space community to learn from these lessons and increase return on investment for future missions.

One major bottleneck in capturing this knowledge is the lack of a system where lessons learned by different actors are kept, interlinked and used to inform decision-makers and reduce the risk to other missions in the vicinity.

Beyond safety and lessons learned, a major issue that will eventually crop up as more and more infrastructure is set up on the Moon is interoperability: think of how Tesla used different EV plugs compared to other EV manufacturers, which led to a need to standardize the plugs in North America over time. With so many different technologies in development for the Moon, there is a need to identify points where issues may arise and facilitate coordination and standardization to help the community grow stronger and more resilient in the harsh environment of the Moon.

With these and many more challenges in mind, the Open Lunar Foundation has decided to build on its past work on the Lunar Registry of Objects and Activities to investigate the creation of a community-led Lunar Accidents, Incidents, and Issues Reporting System. This system will allow stakeholders to:

  • Record accidents, incidents and other issues in an anonymized format allowing operators, and third parties to share issues, complemented by public information scrapped from the internet

  • Notify actors whose operation may be affected by an accident or issue

  • Analyse trends in the data to identify common issues, lessons learned and safety minutes that can be discussed as a community

  • Map the information gathered to different mission phases, and aspects of mission design or engineering to help mission planners in hazard analysis

The idea of recording accidents and issues is not new: in fact, it is part of most Quality Assurance processes, and we can see examples of the analysis we are proposing in NASA’s Manned Space Programs Accident/Incident Summaries (1963-1969), and NASA’s Significant Incidents & Close Calls in Human Spaceflight. However, these past approaches are focused on government missions, and would not be sufficient considering the number of private actors from different countries entering the arena. What is novel in the system Open Lunar is pursuing is:

  • Community involvement: With the Lunar actors each sharing information to enable the community to learn and grow together

  • Post-processing: Harnessing the power of advanced natural language processing to share the relevant information from these records with the community and create value for different actors

  • Scalability: Past efforts in the space sector have been manually created, while the system we foresee will be mostly automated with user intervention only used for verification purposes.

  • Voluntary and Confidential: The aim of the system is to enable safer operations on the Moon by extracting lessons from incidents. As such, sharing information is voluntary, and all information is kept confidential and anonymized to protect the identity of parties involved.

Beyond helping space enterprises learn from accidents and issues and improve their product performance, there are many other use cases for a Lunar Accidents, Incidents, and Issues Reporting System. A platform like this may help improve hazard, risk and root-cause analysis, helping mission planners better understand the risks of Lunar missions, and leading to better insurance policies for these missions. We also foresee the content of the platform to help define new mission assurance requirements in the long run and transfer the burden of tracking accidents and issues from governments to a community of practice made of professionals from the public and private sectors. Finally, the outcome and approach taken by different actors to react to incidents may lead to the creation of standard procedures for reacting to accidents and incidents on the Moon.

While national, agency or licensing requirements may motivate actors to share data, our approach envisions voluntary sharing of the data by actors. Our hope is that the benefits of access to open data and lessons learned from various missions are a compelling value for most actors to entice them to use the system and help the formation of the next generation of standard practices for design, manufacturing and operation on the Moon. 

This initiative is clearly community-based and we cannot go at it alone! If you or someone you know are interested or actively working on improving safety and interoperability on the Moon, we would like to hear from you! We are particularly looking for individuals with experience licensing, insuring and designing missions, and those working on Lunar infrastructure. Send an email to the research lead, Ali Nasseri (, or to get involved.