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An upper stage will boost the spacecraft – which will also act as the lunar lander and drilling platform – towards the Moon.The craft will slow down into orbit around the lunar poles, and adjust its orbit for a precision landing.
From the viewing gallery at mission control, members of the Lunar Missions Club will be able to watch as the spacecraft slows itself down again to head towards its preselected landing site near the South Pole, checks its position with reference to the target area and adjusts its trajectory as required.
In the last minute before landing, as it slows itself for the last time, it will look for any small hazards and make final adjustments. The engines will cut out just before the moment of landing and the legs of the craft will absorb the residual momentum, stabilising and settling the craft on the surface of the Moon.
And then the drilling will begin. With a 2 metre drill connected to the spacecraft by a cable, we will drill a 5cm diameter borehole. As the drilling progresses, the equipment will retrieve cylindrical rock cores for analysis by a suite of scientific instruments onboard the spacecraft.
Drilling will continue for three to four months until we reach at least our target depth of 20m – but possibly as deep as 100m. Once the final samples are retrieved, the spacecraft will lower into place the time capsule containing the public and private archives and plug the borehole.
Depending on the mission’s success, we would arrange a return mission to bring the most important samples back for more detailed analysis on Earth. This would be the next mission funded by the Lunar Missions Trust.