LEAP2: Lunar Ecosystem and Architectural Prototype

The WEX Foundation uses LEAP2 as a framework for offering STEM experience to gifted and talented students using real world project challenges to help solve various technology solutions needed.

The WEX LEAP2 STEM Education program is the educational outreach component of the commercial LEAP2 lunar site development program being developed by an international consortium of aerospace industry organizations. The commercial LEAP2 program is led by San Antonio, Texas based XArc Exploration Architecture Corporation.

Intro to the LEAP2 Framework

The Lunar Site

The Marius Hills Skylight

The Marius Hills Skylight is a large deep lunar pit, approximately 48m x 57m wide x 45m deep, formed from a lava tube ceiling collapse. LEAP2 addresses space architecture issues in lunar exploration, economic development, mining, and sustainment at the Marius Hills Skylight site.

LEAP2 outlines a multi-phase lunar site development for the Marius Hills pit.

Lunar Site Development Phases

Six phases of the LEAP2 Framework

LEAP2 uses a notional timeline for a phased approach to scientific research investigations and technology development for the site. This phased approach framework allows investigators to focus on long lead technology items for development, (e.g. large area dome pressurization and construction, or civil engineering for lava tube infrastructure); or apply resources for immediate or short-term technology applications for mission development, e.g., investigations for scientific instrumentation and measurement, or robotic reconnaissance missions. LEAP2 consortium research investigations and insertion of technology development can be for any phase of our notional timeline.

LEAP2 and STEM Challenges

By attaching the LCATS program to actual technology, engineering and science challenges through the LEAP2 development phases, student learning aligns with real mission priorities for planetary surface systems engineering, mission operations, science experiments and instrumentation. It also allows students to freely advance ideas for technology concept investigations.

The WEX LEAP2 STEM educational outreach program uses real-world project challenges, connecting students directly with industry and aerospace professionals, offering them project-based learning with a meaningful product at the end.

Lunar habitation is one example of a real-world mission challenge that LCATS cohorts engage with.

A Sustained Learning Experience

A central thesis of the LCATS program is to allow students to form consulting teams for a 3-year experience that progresses through the LEAP2 phases of lunar site development. This mimics real-world, multi-year LEAP2 systems engineering missions.

LEAP2 Lunar Site Development, Phase 1, Remote Sensing Measurements

The LCATS Experience

LCATS Year 1

Remote Sensing Phase

LCATS Year 2

Reconnaissance Phase

LCATS Year 3

Habitation Phase

When the Dust Settles

An example of a Remote Sensing Phase project theme

Within the LEAP2 Remote Sensing phase, LCATS cohorts from secondary school through graduate school use Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) technology to investigate and learn about lunar dust issues and particle measurements. The project goal is for the students to develop the QCM technology for an eventual science mission as a student developed flight hardware payload delivered to the lunar surface on a commercial lunar lander.

LCATS cohorts from a range of age groups participate in a variety of projects, investigations, and field trips all with real-world Space-STEM challenges in line with the LEAP2 framework.

Cave QCM

Level: Middle School
Purpose: Basic Introduction to QCM Function
Activity: Assembly of QCM sensor kit

LCATS cohorts assemble QCM sensor kits and take measurements at the Robber Baron cave in San Antonio.

Stratosphere QCM

Level: Middle School & Undergrad
Purpose: Instrument Design
Activity: Breadboard design and fabrication of QCM upper atmosphere dust measurement instrument

LCATS cohorts perform a high altitude balloon launch.

Sub-Orbital QCM

Level: High School & Undergrad
Purpose: Flight hardware design for space environment
Activity: Design and build a sub-orbital payload using QCM brassboard for sub-orbital dust particle measurements and sensor calibration

Lunar QCM

Level: University Undergrad & Graduate
Purpose: Flight hardware design demonstration for lunar environment
Activity: Design, fabrication, test, and deployment of QCM lunar dust instrument prototype technology demonstration to lunar surface

Visit the XArc Site

Learn more about Exploration Architecture Corporation and LEAP2.

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