I was reading about the recent selection of Blue Origin for a second Lunar Lander, and a comment on an article caught my eye. Where exactly are any of the engines on the new lander?

Here you can see the original National Team proposal, a very tall design with the crew compartment way up top and the lander's main engines (and RCS) at the bottom, as well as a set of engines in the middle of the stack (not pictured) for when the upper section lifts off from the Moon, akin to how the Apollo lander worked. A video on their lander can be found here where you can actually see the two main landing engines tucked away, not visible in the screenshot below (taken from that very video).

Old Lander:

Old National Team proposed lander, with engines visible below

However, when we look at the render from the recently accepted proposal, the crew compartment is at the bottom and I at least can't see where the engines/RCS are. If it's similar to how the prior proposal had, with the main engines tucked up centrally and therefore not visible, that would mean that they'd have to be awfully close to the crew, and also have some way of routing LH2 and LOX either through or around the crew compartment, both of which seem sketchy to me. I also don't see any RCS thrusters, though they could be on those rectangular-ish sections covered by the gold colored foil/coating.

New Lander:

New Blue Origin lander, with no visible engines

In summary, I'm curious whether the engines are really that close to the crew, as well as where/how the propellant is routed if so, since it's not clear from this render, nor have I been able to find much if any information on it. It's also possible that the render pictured below does not include all of the details.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Though looking at the LEM, it does have the ascent engine dead in the center of the cabin. But the fuel tanks there are on the side rather than above like for Blue Origin's lander. Either way, could well be less sketchy than it feels like it would be to me. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2023 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah this is a good point the OP makes. I feel like they might make the ascent engine regen cooled, even if pressurefed, to remove heat and improve efficiency at the same time, but I'm probably wrong on that one. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2023 at 7:01
  • $\begingroup$ @RegenerativelyCooledAstronaut A thing to note is that it sounds like in the new version, the ascent and descent engine is the same, rather than separate in the original $\endgroup$ May 21, 2023 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ FYI, in the Apollo LEM the ascent engine cover was inside the cabin. The crew could sit on it. airandspace.si.edu/sites/default/files/images/5596_640.jpg This probably qualified as "awfully close to the crew." $\endgroup$ May 22, 2023 at 3:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble yeah, I came across a diagram like that (linked it in a comment), though I’d also say that I feel like we’re being a tad more risk-averse during Artemis than Apollo. I suppose that regardless of where it’s situated, if there’s a problem with an engine you’re screwed either way $\endgroup$ May 22, 2023 at 4:03


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.