“Testing the Landing Gear – the Spacecraft’s “Legs

As we have previously shared, our spacecraft is in the advanced stages of integration – its various parts have successfully passed endurance tests, and are now being integrated to form a complete spacecraft. The fully integrated spacecraft will also undergo testing, to ensure that it is capable of withstanding conditions that simulate those of its landing on the moon. We are happy to share with you information on the tests conducted on the landing gear, which is in fact the spacecraft’s “legs”.

The spacecraft, carrying the weight of all its components, will land on the moon at the end of its long journey. Imagine an aircraft landing on the ground – in order to land optimally, it has to complete the process in a very specific manner. Its approach has to be at a specific angle and velocity, and its landing gear – its wheels – must be fully deployed to withstand the pressure they are required to bear during the landing. The same applies to our spacecraft. When landing on the moon, its landing gear (“legs”) must be able to withstand the pressure produced when it comes into contact with the Moon’s surface; it must also ensure the spacecraft remains stable and does not tip over. The test will be conducted in a manner simulating this: A robotic arm will release the spacecraft above the Moon’s surface in different velocities and angles. The surface may be either level or sloped; it may be composed of hard material or of sand (quartz), which simulates moondust. In the test, the altitude from which the actual robotic arm, connected to a model of the spacecraft’s body of the same weight, is dropped, is a function of the velocity at which we intend to make contact with the surface upon landing. (The altitude in the test is irrelevant; it is only a means to achieve the velocity). We have conducted different simulations of the velocity of impact with the moon’s surface (which, on Earth, is from a lower altitude than the free-fall on the moon).

In each test that we have conducted, the dampers that absorb the energy of the fall were replaced. These dampers are round surfaces whose shape is similar to that of a honeycomb. Their purpose is to decrease the acceleration of the spacecraft’s body as it comes into contact with the landing surface.

As part of the test, we also verified that there were no significant design or  manufacturing errors. After each stage, the structure was visually inspected to detect possible flaws; the point at which the spacecraft would tip or roll over during touchdown was checked; and the gap between the bottom of the spacecraft and the ground was also measured, to ensure that the main engine will remain far enough above the Moon’s surface to avoid damage resulting from  upon impact during landing. Upon completion of the test, its results were compared with the previously performed simulation. The initial check, in the field, revealed that the results were good, and matched the simulation. Now all we need to do is wait for the day the spacecraft will “land on its feet” on the Moon!

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