Structural evolution of the TeamIndus spacecraft that will land on the Moon

How the lander design evolved for structural integrity and robustness

Jatan Mehta
Dec 15, 2017 · 5 min read
First structural design of the spacecraft with main components labelled.
Aluminum foam used in the landing gear.

Landing gear absorption material

After evaluating other materials, the team changed the aluminum foam to a aluminum based honeycomb-shaped structure that can be compressed. Called “crushable honeycomb” as it can compress longitudinally and absorb the impact forces on landing better than aluminum foam. Upon being crushed, the structure compresses layer by layer to fill the gaps.

1: Crushable honeycomb structure in the landing gear allows the spacecraft to better absorb the impact forces on landing. 2: Honeycomb-structure top view pre-impact (left) and crushed post-impact (right).
  1. Crushable honeycomb structure is lighter than the aluminum foam because it has a hollow structure.

Lander decks

The decks don’t crush at touchdown as they need to divide the impact forces evenly on landing. To reduce the mass of the frame while maintaining stiffness, the aluminum strut was replaced with a honeycomb structure
sandwiched between two thin aluminum sheets. Even a slim aluminum-honeycomb sandwich can take the weight of multiple people standing on it with ease.

1: Honeycomb structure top view. 2: Aluminum-honeycomb sandwich used in the decks.
The spacecraft with crushable honeycomb landing gear and honeycomb structure decks.

The Landing

The design progress doesn’t stop there. Landing on the moon is a tricky business as it is difficult to predict the type of terrain the spacecraft might land on.

Landing gear footpad can change angle based on the terrain below it.
Our final landing gear with a crushable honeycomb structure in both the primary and secondary legs to absorb maximum impact forces during the landing.

Conclusion

Our lander is thus capable of landing safely on a wide variety of terrains at the lunar landing site thanks to an incredible landing gear configuration. The structure of the spacecraft thus ensures the safety of the subsystems and the payloads during the landing.

The structural evolution of the TeamIndus spacecraft.


TeamIndus Blog

Privately funded mission to land on the Moon in 2020

Jatan Mehta

Written by

Science officer @TeamIndus Moon mission • Space advocate, Astrophysics nerd and Open Source tech enthusiast • https://jatan.space

TeamIndus Blog

Privately funded mission to land on the Moon in 2020