Trans Cislunar Launcher Network

Design Overview

  • a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) station
  • + plus a swarm of small robotic aerobraking ferries
  • an Earth-Moon Lagrange point 1 EML-1 station
  • and Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) station
  • a Lunar Surface station (a moon base)
  1. A small mass dug up from the moon, possibly on the order of 1 kg or 10 kg is launched from a horizontal track/gun at the moon base at high g-force, reaching 1.7 km/s, timed such that it intentionally collides with the LLO station, and is caught.
  2. The captured mass is then launched by the LLO station either to collide with the EML-1 station, or into a graveyard trajectory to fall back to the moon as a means of station-keeping, at around 0.65 km/s. Both actions can be completed once per orbit, about once every 2 hours.
  3. The EML-1 station then engages in a special abbreviated assembly process where a minimalistic robotic spacecraft (I call an “aeroshell” drone) is loaded up with the payload. The spacecraft has no propellant. The EML-1 station launches the drone at about 0.65 km/s into an Earth-grazing trajectory.
  4. The drone loses some velocity, and then makes a large number of passes, slowing shedding velocity each time. The long time frame and its control surfaces allow it to make adjustments so that it literally hits the LEO station on-schedule, which would happen at around 128 m/s of relative velocity or possibly a good deal less.
  5. Cannibalizing a small amount propellant produced from lunar-ice delivered in the payload, a spacecraft launches from LEO to EML-1 with hundreds of the robotic aeroshell spacecrafts, to reload with more payload and “sail” back down to LEO.
Very Condensed Illustration of System. Much of steps 4 and 5 not pictured.

Commentary on Individual Steps and Philosophy

The Launchers

The Catchers

Relative velocities at point of capture is astoundingly low
  • arrival velocity is very low compared with the launch velocities
  • launch windows are very frequent
  • muzzle velocities just barely teeter around the boundary of slow hypervelocities, and are probably right around the limits of material contact-survivability, so that the lunar station might keep its railgun or light-gas gun in-tact for a decade of service
  • no atmosphere to complicate the launches

Catching Course Corrections

Lunar Station

LLO Station

EML-1 Station

LEO Station

The Aeroshell Drones

A real version wouldn’t be square like this, but that’s due to my artistic limitations

Scaling Considerations

Tethers Versus Launchers

Mixing and Matching

Calcs and Background

 by the author.




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Obligatory analytical writing, online participation account for Medium. Engineering, software, books, space, constant daydreaming.

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