This is an architectural and conceptual exploration through geometry, mechanism, and concept of operation (CONOPS) for a new look at lunar spaceports. The report showcases four fully developed concepts across four extreme sets of assumptions.
This document is the output of a research fellowship taking a new look at lunar spaceports with Open Lunar Foundation, a nonprofit organization working on policy and partnerships that support a sustainable lunar settlement driven by open values.
A spaceport is a kind of armor for the lunar surface in that it protects the ground from the destructive force of rocket engine exhaust and prevents the ground from becoming a spray of high-velocity projectiles. In the absence of this surface armor, everything around the landing site would need to be armored and thus more massive, indiscriminately driving engineering margins. A spaceport might itself be a product of an indigenous lunar material economy, or it might, like a spacecraft, be a product of Earth and imported to the Moon. The structural, material and production differences between in situ and imported artifacts has a fundamental effect on their design.
Consistent with this spirit, this is a working document for designers, engineers, and policy-makers interested in understanding this problem or applying the approach to other problems. All design directions imply socio-economic incentive structures regarding cost and benefit sharing, which deserve greater attention. These initial directions may provide a starting point for such an analysis.
This is an architectural and conceptual exploration through geometry, mechanism, and concept of operation (CONOPS). The report showcases four fully developed concepts for very different types of landing pads, or space ports.