In a bid to improve the robustness and reliability of the flight system, ESA astronaut has conducted a simulated polar moon landing through ‘Human-In-the-Loop Flight Vehicle Engineering’ technology.

The project was funded by the European Space Agency’s Technology Development Element, which supports potential new space ideas.

ESA intends to develop a preliminary design and preliminary specifications for a human lunar landing involving astronauts to improve the flight system’s robustness and reliability.

According to the ESA project manager, the primary purpose of the project was to evaluate human-machine interfaces and aid services for spacecraft.

The European Space Agency’s ‘Human-in-the-Loop Flight Vehicle Engineering for Exploration Missions’ project is part of the agency’s work on the international Lunar Gateway space station.

The Gateway will be used as an intermediary station for crewed missions to the Moon, among other things. The Moon’s South Pole is high on the list of places to explore and potentially settle once the Gateway is constructed as a basecamp for surface exploration.

This position offers near-constant sunlight for solar power as well as access to lunar water ice deposits in surrounding permanently shaded craters, avoiding the crippling temperatures seen elsewhere on the Moon.

ESA is funding the initiative, which is a collaboration between science and industry. Project partner Thales Alenia Space from Italy provided user interfaces for movement control, including touch screen software. GMV, a Spanish business, produced the navigation and flight control for the simulated lunar module, which was then adapted for the DLR simulator.

The DLR Robotic Motion Simulator is built around an industrial robot arm that is coupled to a flight deck capsule that is furnished with a virtual flight deck window.

Roberto Vittori, a six-time astronaut and one of the project, boarded a one-of-a-kind motion simulator constructed for extreme tilt angles and maneuvers at the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of System Dynamics and Control in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Cologne.

Speaking on the project, Roberto noted that: “It was a beautiful run,” 

“The simulator is an incredible machine, probably one of the best I have experienced. This experiment today is for me showing that Europe can play a key role in the future of exploration.” He added.

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