Lunar Hopper Enhancements

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Group Design Project
Inspired by the Google Lunar X Prize, the Lunar Hopper Mk II GDP aims to design, develop and test a novel type of lunar transport
Group Members
Adam Elkins, Marian Daogaru, Alison Dufresne, Adam Studebaker

Supervisors
Professor Antony Musker, Dr. Graham Roberts, Dr. Charlie Ryan

The Lunar Hopper Mk. II is a vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) vehicle that has been built to demonstrate an alternative mode of lunar transport. A Hopper would be deployed to the surface of the moon, where it can identify potential areas of interest to explore. It would then boost up, pitch over, and translate to its selected destination. The Hopper is completely terrain independent and capable of travelling long distances faster than conventional space land vehicles.

Weighing in at 37 kilograms, the Hopper encompasses various engineering systems to ensure it is successful through all phases of flight. They include the Attitude Control System (ACS), Propellant Delivery System (PDS), Structure, Software & Electronics, Communications, and the independent pilot trainer.

The Hopper is propelled by a 400 Newton hybrid rocket motor that was developed here at the University of Southampton. It maintains stability and control using four nitrogen cold gas thrusters located at the top of the ACS tower. It is looking forward to its flight test in the coming weeks, but as our test will be here on Earth, it has to be able to operate in a typical Earth environment. That means that our structure and propulsion system has been designed to both withstand and overcome Earth’s gravity. Plus our ACS system has to provide stability and control while the vehicle is being pushed and pulled by Earth’s winds.

A lot of space enthusiasts will be aware of SpaceX and the challenges they have faced before they were able to successfully land the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket. Or alternatively Blue Origin, as they land their New Shepard vehicle. There is a major push towards reusable launch vehicles and VTVL technology in the space sector. Our project demonstrates how this technology is becoming more accessible today, even in a university setting.

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