US PATENT 5,092,545
Method of Delivering Lunar Generated Fluid 
to Earth Orbit Using an External Tank

Publication number: US5092545
Publication date: 1992-03-03
Applicant: NASA (US)


A method and apparatus are provided for delivering lunar generated fluid to Earth orbit from lunar orbit. Transport takes place in an external tank of a shuttle which has been suitably outfitted in Earth orbit for reusable travel between Earth orbit and a lunar orbit. The outfitting of the external tank includes the adding of an engine, an electrical system, a communication system, a guidance system, an aerobraking device, and a plurality of interconnected fluid storage tanks to the hydrogen and oxygen tanks of the external tank. The external tank is then propelled to lunar orbit the first time using Earth based propellant. In lunar orbit, the storage tanks are filled with the lunar generated fluid with the remainder tank volumes filled with lunar generated liquid oxygen and hydrogen which serve as propellants for returning the tank to Earth orbit where the fluid is off-loaded. The remaining lunar generated oxygen and hydrogen is then sufficient to return the external tank to lunar orbit so that a subsequent cycle of fluid delivery is repeated. A space station in a higher Earth orbit is preferably used to outfit the external tank, and a lunar node in lunar orbit is used to store and transfer the fluid and liquid oxygen and hydrogen to the external tank. The lunar generated fluid is preferably 3He.

Lunar Generated Fluid Cargo Transport





Space Station Freedom
Space Station Freedom


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