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Tuskegee University joins Dynetics-led team developing NASA’s Artemis Human Lunar Landing System

Researchers to evaluate the quality and durability of 3D-printed parts to meet the environmental demands on NASA’s HLS integrated lunar lander.

A multidisciplinary faculty research team from Tuskegee University’s College of Engineering is partnering with Huntsville, Alabama-based Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, to design a Human Landing System (HLS) to take the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024. Dynetics is one of three primary contractors selected for the contract awarded under NASA’s Artemis program.

As the project’s only university-based research team, Tuskegee engineering faculty researchers will test and evaluate additively manufactured (AM) materials and parts — namely, those produced through 3D printing processes. This includes tensile and fatigue testing studies to assess their quality and durability in meeting the environmental demands on the HLS Integrated Lander. Metallurgical evaluation will also help establish the microstructure-processing-property relationship of these 3D-printed materials and parts that have different challenges in standardization, qualification and certification compared to standardly manufactured ones.

The Dynetics approach enables near-term reusability and sustainability and provides a robust, commercially supported lander capability, while boasting flight-proven technologies for habitat, power, thermal and other subsystems. The system’s crew module is designed to accommodate two crew members for nominal missions from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back, including surface habitation for about a week. Alternatively, it can ferry up to four suited crew members to or from the lunar surface.

The Dynetics HLS can be fully integrated and launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1B vehicle. For commercial launches, it can be flown aboard United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket.

“Tuskegee University is proud to join this illustrious team helping the nation land astronauts on the moon by 2024,” said Dr. Heshmat Aglan, dean of Tuskegee’s College of Engineering. “Our College of Engineering’s state-of-the-art facilities in additive manufacturing and materials processing and characterization have placed us in a strong position to join such a significant undertaking. This project provides real-time engineering opportunities as the College of Engineering educates the next generation of scientists and engineers.”  

“Dynetics is excited to lead this expert team of subcontractors that will return Americans to the lunar surface,” said Kim Doering, vice president of Space Systems at Dynetics. “This team has a proven history of technical excellence, and their contributions will greatly benefit the future of space exploration.”

With Dynetics as the prime contractor and system integrator, the team is composed of a broad and diverse set of small and mid-size businesses, as well as NASA field centers with industry-recognized technical expertise and programmatic experience. Major components and subsystems will be built, tested and integrated at a Dynetics facility in northern Alabama.