VASIMR lunar tug
A VASIMR powered lunar tug can carry twice the payload to the moon than ordinary chemical propulsion. The tug would be launched once and placed in orbit around Earth. It would unfold large solar panels. A payload would then be launched from Earth, including fuel for the tug. The tug would then spiral out towards the moon, in a process taking six months. The cargo lander would then detach and land near the lunar base. The tug would then presumably slingshot around the moon and aerobrake back into Earth orbit, where it could wait for another payload.
- Twice the payload compared to chemical
- Does not need a nuclear power source
- VASIMR is untested
- The solar panels are very large.
- The tradeoff for the larger payload is a six month travel time. This is to long for humans to stay in the van allen belts, and is why manned travel will use chemical propulsion.