SEVERE WX : Frost Advisory View Alerts

Huntsville's Dynetics looking forward to future lunar lander project

WAAY 31 spoke to a space leader in Huntsville that's built previous landers.

Posted: Aug 14, 2019 5:36 PM
Updated: Aug 14, 2019 6:50 PM

The lunar lander could eventually help NASA set up a colony on the moon, and the margin for error is slim.

WAAY 31 spoke to a space leader in Huntsville that's built previous landers. The lunar lander for the Artemis project will transport astronauts from the space station called the Lunar Gateway to the surface of the moon.

One employee for Dynetics says it's a challenging project he wants to be a part of.

"It's a different mission than any other mission we've had. It is more challenging, probably more at stake, more opportunities to fail," said Andy Crocker, the director of strategy for space at Dynetics.

He's worked on three lander projects while at the missile defense company, but says this one for NASA's Artemis mission is different.

"This may be the third time, and this one is certainly very serious. The nation is committed. The administration is committed," Crocker said.

NASA's Artemis mission is tasked with landing humans back on the moon by 2024. The end goal is to ultimately get to Mars. The Marshall Space Flight Center was designated the leader of the lunar lander element of the project. 

Dynetics is familiar with landers. The company worked on a robotic prototype lander in 2013. It was part of NASA's Mighty Eagle program, as it tested technologies and software of a lander that can explore space. The lander was small and never held any astronauts.

The Artemis lander will not only be bigger and hold astronauts, but it will need to make multiple trips to and from the Lunar Gateway.

"Heavy, heavy payloads to orbit, and getting them all the way to lunar orbit to surface, but then you have to bring those humans back safely. It's a real struggle and it kind of fights against what physics wants to give you," Crocker said.

Dynetics is one of 11 companies that received contracts from NASA to study different elements for the lunar lander. Specifically, the company is tasked with studying the descent stage.

Crocker says no matter the stage, there isn't room for error, because a life could be on the line.

"If you lose a robot, even if it's a billion-dollar robot, you move on with your day. If you lose a crew, it's a whole different situation and we never want to do that. We put ourselves in position not to do that," he said.

Crocker says many private companies want to be involved in the lunar lander project. Dynetics is waiting to hear if it will be involved in the next phase by the end of the year.

Huntsville/Redstone
Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 37°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 36°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 36°
Decatur
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 38°
Fort Payne
Mostly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 42°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522512

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755371494
Mobile39129799
Madison34124500
Tuscaloosa25408444
Montgomery24059573
Shelby23225242
Baldwin20730302
Lee15638166
Calhoun14358311
Morgan14171273
Etowah13705348
Marshall12012220
Houston10416279
Elmore10024203
Limestone9862148
Cullman9509191
St. Clair9486236
Lauderdale9280233
DeKalb8762183
Talladega8127173
Walker7151276
Autauga6763106
Jackson6762110
Blount6532133
Colbert6236132
Coffee5436113
Dale4781111
Russell431239
Franklin421382
Chilton4130110
Covington4069115
Tallapoosa3922148
Escambia390374
Dallas3528150
Chambers3519122
Clarke347360
Marion3076100
Pike306676
Lawrence296395
Winston273272
Bibb256761
Marengo248561
Geneva246475
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213268
Fayette209660
Henry188444
Cherokee182744
Randolph177841
Monroe173140
Washington165538
Macon156548
Clay150255
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock122040
Conecuh109728
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 835842

Reported Deaths: 12081
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby930851587
Davidson88030924
Knox49813624
Hamilton43402485
Rutherford42319420
Williamson27545216
Sumner23492341
Montgomery19623224
Wilson18472229
Out of TN1803295
Unassigned16760132
Sullivan16184287
Blount15180194
Bradley14599147
Washington14177242
Maury13211169
Sevier13166175
Putnam11168173
Madison10789241
Robertson9607130
Anderson8627171
Hamblen8498171
Greene7739152
Tipton7226104
Coffee6831121
Dickson6734109
Cumberland6568127
Carter6468156
Bedford6426129
Gibson6402144
McMinn636597
Roane6191102
Jefferson6073121
Loudon601669
Lawrence580686
Hawkins5781106
Monroe570995
Warren551381
Dyer5361104
Franklin508688
Fayette492178
Obion450296
Cheatham444454
Cocke443798
Rhea431275
Lincoln430663
Marshall411158
Campbell409662
Weakley402862
Giles395399
Henderson372975
Macon358077
Carroll357582
White354868
Hardin349766
Hardeman346464
Lauderdale314444
Henry312475
Marion309946
Claiborne306273
Scott305545
Overton296961
Wayne294334
Hickman280546
McNairy276854
DeKalb275653
Smith274838
Haywood268361
Grainger259149
Trousdale249022
Morgan246039
Fentress238546
Johnson231638
Bledsoe209711
Chester209451
Crockett201048
Polk200024
Unicoi194549
Cannon188931
Union186034
Grundy177933
Humphreys174221
Lake169526
Sequatchie166728
Benton163240
Decatur157338
Lewis155826
Meigs134823
Stewart130828
Jackson129935
Clay109031
Houston108533
Perry105728
Moore100017
Van Buren83421
Pickett75624
Hancock54912

Community Events