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Aerospace giant Northrop Grumman has completed a lunar lander feasiblity study for the Golden Spike Company, which aims to begin ferrying paying customers to the moon and back by 2020.
The study came up with a new design that consists of a descent stage with a surface habitat and a lightweight ascent vehicle dubbed "Pumpkin," all of which would fit inside a 16.5-foot-wide (5 meters) rocket fairing for launch.
"This concept has significant operability advantages for surface exploration since the surface habitat can be segmented to isolate lunar dust and provides more space for living and for selecting the most valuable lunar return samples," Northrop Grumman study lead Martin McLaughlin said in a statement.
"We affectionately call the minimalist ascent pod 'Pumpkin' because of its spherical shape and because it returns the crew to orbit after the surface exploration party," he added.
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