Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ILN update

Several of you have asked for a mission status for the ILN. Things have been in flux for the last couple of weeks but look like they are settling out so it's a good time to update you, and also to ask for your help.

The project has been conducting trade studies in response to HQ's changing directions regarding this mission, finally presenting two alternatives to HQ: a 2-node solar-battery option and a 4-node ASRG option. Neither one fits under the original $200M cost cap (unsurprisingly). Therefore OMB initiated a review of the project to understand the design and cost and to define "alternatives." The review went well and found that the cost and schedule for the mission concepts were in-family. You can see a summary of the ILN project to date in my NLSI talk.

However, in the current budget, SMD cannot afford the ILN. So for FY10, HQ has chosen to allocate the project $3.7M and direct it to become the Lunar Quest lander project office, who will conduct risk-reduction activities on a generic ILN-class lander. SMD's current stance is to wait for the results of the Decadal Survey to decide what direction to take for a lunar lander mission, which may or may not be ILN, depending on the Decadal prioritization.

If you think the ILN idea is still a good one, I urge you to sign on to Clive Neal's white paper to the Decadal Survey about the importance of a lunar geophysical network. Having an interested and enthusiastic community backing will help the ILN achieve a high prioritization in the Decadal Survey.