Author Topic: ESA leading us back to the Moon  (Read 38444 times)

Online redliox

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ESA leading us back to the Moon
« on: 05/02/2015 06:08 AM »
Apparently the incoming leadership of ESA is speaking about literally reaching for the Moon after the ISS is deorbited.  There's been hints that ESA, in addition to the international community in general, has been taking an interest in the Moon of late while NASA speaks of Mars.  However, Johann-Dietrich Wörner (the new ESA chief) spoke more specifically about looking into a lunar base as ESA's next step after their duty with the ISS is completed.

If anyone has more details on Wörner's moon plans do post them here, as they seem indicative of a promising direction of human space flight.

As for this direction in general, I approve.  We all know the basic logic behind the Moon: it's a helluvalot closer to us than Mars.  NASA brags about Orion taking us to Mars...but by itself Orion can't safely do anything beyond circling Luna or visiting its Lagrange points; the fact ESA's building its service module seems foreboding coupled with ESA's lunar preference.  ESA seems to approach this logically, whereas NASA is attempting a great leap when it can't honestly repeat the effort made 40+ years ago (a less-than-secret embarrassment shared by engineers and enthusiasts).

Unless NASA establishes the technologies needed for Mars (ISRU, aerocapture, maybe SEP), the Moon is the only thing in our reach.  On the other hand, we already have the means for lunar travel: HLVs, a crewed orbiter...just add lander and the set is complete.  Hypothetically, ESA might develop the lander and even spearhead the moon base it's chief suggested.
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Offline sanman

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #1 on: 05/02/2015 07:37 AM »
Won't ESA have to figure out a way to do reusable launch vehicles first? If so many others are flying reusable vehicles by then while reaping the cost benefits, then won't ESA look horribly outdated and appear to be bleeding money by trying to continue with higher pursuits while using discardable vehicles?

Will ESA somehow be able to put into practice reusable spaceflight technology as a stepping stone to these higher pursuits like the Moon, etc? Will it mean somehow radically restructuring Arianespace? Otherwise, how will they proceed without addressing this fundamental issue?
« Last Edit: 05/02/2015 07:39 AM by sanman »

Online redliox

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #2 on: 05/02/2015 08:23 AM »
Won't ESA have to figure out a way to do reusable launch vehicles first? If so many others are flying reusable vehicles by then while reaping the cost benefits, then won't ESA look horribly outdated and appear to be bleeding money by trying to continue with higher pursuits while using discardable vehicles?

Will ESA somehow be able to put into practice reusable spaceflight technology as a stepping stone to these higher pursuits like the Moon, etc?

Define flying, since we are also dealing with the Moon's airless environment.  Second, look at how well NASA's 'reuseable' shuttle went, and why bother developing a vehicle when vehicles like Dragon and the European version of Dream Chaser could be rented instead.  Third, elaborating from the second point, that would free up ESA (or any space agency) to focus on the lunar vehicles - without reentry or aerodynamics a pure space vehicle just needs to be refueled before reuse, then perhaps deorbited when its warranty is up.

Otherwise, how will they proceed without addressing this fundamental issue?

One step at a time like anyone else.  ESA, JAXA, and China's agency came into being decades after NASA, and considering NASA regressed from Apollo to the space shuttle and to Orion the playing field is mostly level frankly...especially if it's not LEO but Cislunar & interplanetary space you're looking at.  ESA will have hurdles to cross to land on the Moon...but so will NASA.  ESA, much like China too, is going slow and steady whereas NASA leaps, trips, and falls on its face.
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Offline kevinof

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #3 on: 05/02/2015 08:52 AM »
Won't ESA have to figure out a way to do reusable launch vehicles first? If so many others are flying reusable vehicles by then while reaping the cost benefits, then won't ESA look horribly outdated and appear to be bleeding money by trying to continue with higher pursuits while using discardable vehicles?

Will ESA somehow be able to put into practice reusable spaceflight technology as a stepping stone to these higher pursuits like the Moon, etc? Will it mean somehow radically restructuring Arianespace? Otherwise, how will they proceed without addressing this fundamental issue?

I don't understand why everything needs to start at the beginning every time, re-inventing what other companies are doing.  We already have solutions for getting into LEO and these are solutions that would cost far less than anything ESA could develop and build. You only need to build an RLV if you want to get into the LEO business at an affordable level - It has nothing to do with getting to the moon.

If ESA want to go to the moon then build the bits that take you from LEO to the moon and ignore the Earth stuff. They can get their hardware into LEO and then hire SpaceX, ULA or whoever as a "taxi" to get them to earth orbit and go from there.  In 2025 when ISS is no more, what are SpaceX or ULA or whoever, going to charge to get a crew into LEO? Going to be far less than it would cost ESA to build their own.



Offline gbaikie

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #4 on: 05/02/2015 08:58 AM »
Apparently the incoming leadership of ESA is speaking about literally reaching for the Moon after the ISS is deorbited.  There's been hints that ESA, in addition to the international community in general, has been taking an interest in the Moon of late while NASA speaks of Mars.  However, Johann-Dietrich Wörner (the new ESA chief) spoke more specifically about looking into a lunar base as ESA's next step after their duty with the ISS is completed.

If anyone has more details on Wörner's moon plans do post them here, as they seem indicative of a promising direction of human space flight.

As for this direction in general, I approve.  We all know the basic logic behind the Moon: it's a helluvalot closer to us than Mars.  NASA brags about Orion taking us to Mars...but by itself Orion can't safely do anything beyond circling Luna or visiting its Lagrange points; the fact ESA's building its service module seems foreboding coupled with ESA's lunar preference.  ESA seems to approach this logically, whereas NASA is attempting a great leap when it can't honestly repeat the effort made 40+ years ago (a less-than-secret embarrassment shared by engineers and enthusiasts).

Unless NASA establishes the technologies needed for Mars (ISRU, aerocapture, maybe SEP), the Moon is the only thing in our reach.  On the other hand, we already have the means for lunar travel: HLVs, a crewed orbiter...just add lander and the set is complete.  Hypothetically, ESA might develop the lander and even spearhead the moon base it's chief suggested.

Generally I think ESA should/could build a lunar base.
Or I don't think ESA has much political support for Mars bases [not now, or within a decade].
So I think NASA should focus on building a Mars base [or bases] and ESA should focus in terms of ultimate goal within next 2 decades, of building a lunar base [or bases].
But America is more private sector and not as much governmental control of markets- and what exciting about the moon is it's commercial potential. Or most commercial ventures from Europe, China, Japan, and Russia would dominated by governmental projects [such as Arianespace]. Or if American did things like Europe, an American lunar base would Lockheed and/or Boeing lunar base- not a Bigelow lunar base [though Bigelow might be sub contractor of say Boeing].

So I would have US lead in terms of exploring the Moon, then ESA might put some lunar base on Moon, but NASA instead of trying to play some dominate role in lunar base building, instead shifts to exploring Mars and making it's governmental bases Mars bases, rather than lunar bases. But America private sector could be involved in mining or  lunar base building, while NASA explores Mars.

And maybe at some point after 20 or more years other nations may become interested in having Mars bases, also. Or maybe not.

Offline sanman

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #5 on: 05/02/2015 10:49 AM »
I don't understand why everything needs to start at the beginning every time, re-inventing what other companies are doing.  We already have solutions for getting into LEO and these are solutions that would cost far less than anything ESA could develop and build. You only need to build an RLV if you want to get into the LEO business at an affordable level - It has nothing to do with getting to the moon.

If ESA want to go to the moon then build the bits that take you from LEO to the moon and ignore the Earth stuff. They can get their hardware into LEO and then hire SpaceX, ULA or whoever as a "taxi" to get them to earth orbit and go from there.  In 2025 when ISS is no more, what are SpaceX or ULA or whoever, going to charge to get a crew into LEO? Going to be far less than it would cost ESA to build their own.

Okay, so I was waiting for someone to say this stuff. At that point, then it's going to be less of an ESA effort to create a moonbase, and is going to be more of a multinational effort. And maybe that's the way it ought to be - make it a multi-national project, like the ISS was, in order to distribute the costs. (yeah, yeah, I know ISS caused a lot of collaborational headaches, due to its multi-national nature.)

Otherwise, would ESA/EU find it politically palatable to carry out such a major European project that's totally dependent on foreign service providers? I doubt it for something that's much more than a mere space probe mission. Make it multi-national project and then ESA/EU might accept it.

Offline Jim

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #6 on: 05/02/2015 10:53 AM »

considering NASA regressed from Apollo to the space shuttle and to Orion the playing field is mostly level frankly...

That is an untrue characterization.  How many space agencies have gone past Mars or to Mercury?  Who has two rovers on Mars?

Online redliox

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #7 on: 05/02/2015 11:54 AM »

considering NASA regressed from Apollo to the space shuttle and to Orion the playing field is mostly level frankly...

That is an untrue characterization.  How many space agencies have gone past Mars or to Mercury?  Who has two rovers on Mars?

This is in regards to manned flight.  However, ESA does have the precedence of being the first to land on Titan and a comet.  They also built the ATV, which was larger than Progress or the current batch of commercial ships.  They're not slacking either.  :)
« Last Edit: 05/02/2015 11:55 AM by redliox »
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Offline Jim

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #8 on: 05/02/2015 12:00 PM »


This is in regards to manned flight.  However, ESA does have the precedence of being the first to land on Titan....
They also built the ATV, which was larger than Progress or the current batch of commercial ships.   

It was carried there by a NASA spacecraft. 
Size doesn't matter in that case, cost does.

« Last Edit: 05/02/2015 12:03 PM by Jim »

Online redliox

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #9 on: 05/02/2015 12:06 PM »
I don't understand why everything needs to start at the beginning every time, re-inventing what other companies are doing.  We already have solutions for getting into LEO and these are solutions that would cost far less than anything ESA could develop and build. You only need to build an RLV if you want to get into the LEO business at an affordable level - It has nothing to do with getting to the moon.

Answer: generational gaps.  A reason things can't just be rebuilt is that the people who made them aren't around.  For example, Blackstar pointed out that there isn't a 'common spaceprobe' because it isn't uncommon for 5 years or longer between (especially the larger) missions; as I believe he put it if you called up a company asking to rebuild a robotic arm they built the answering may reply "Sir I was in high school when that mission was flown."  Space-rated components are usually custom built because it is a harsh job they deal with.  As a result, because Apollo is much faded from living memory it can't be duplicated on a whim.

If ESA want to go to the moon then build the bits that take you from LEO to the moon and ignore the Earth stuff. They can get their hardware into LEO and then hire SpaceX, ULA or whoever as a "taxi" to get them to earth orbit and go from there.  In 2025 when ISS is no more, what are SpaceX or ULA or whoever, going to charge to get a crew into LEO? Going to be far less than it would cost ESA to build their own.

That will be up to the space agencies to declare in interest.  Space X and ULA, as examples, will still have rockets and satellites to launch to keep them in business.  Private entities might request flights...but more likely NASA will request the vehicles even without the ISS just to have a vehicle and not suffer the embarrassment of renting from Russia.

Can't predict everything, but I would like to see ESA poke and convince NASA to abandon the asteroid schemes and go for the Moon if not Mars.
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Offline Oli

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #10 on: 05/02/2015 12:49 PM »

ESA's human spaceflight budget would only cover a small fraction of the cost of a lunar base. IMO it's pretty irrelevant what ESA thinks wrt. human spaceflight BEO. They will go along with whatever NASA does.



Won't ESA have to figure out a way to do reusable launch vehicles first? If so many others are flying reusable vehicles by then while reaping the cost benefits, then won't ESA look horribly outdated and appear to be bleeding money by trying to continue with higher pursuits while using discardable vehicles?

Nonsense.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #11 on: 05/02/2015 09:58 PM »
For cargo launch vehicles Europe has the Ariane 5 and 6.

There is very little glory in having a rival to the Dragon, Orion, CST-100, Dreamchaser and Soyuz. There is plenty of glory in having a transfer vehicle and somethng else NASA does not have a manned lunar lander.

Online redliox

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #12 on: 05/02/2015 10:20 PM »
For cargo launch vehicles Europe has the Ariane 5 and 6.

There is very little glory in having a rival to the Dragon, Orion, CST-100, Dreamchaser and Soyuz. There is plenty of glory in having a transfer vehicle and somethng else NASA does not have a manned lunar lander.

Agreed, and if ESA plays its cards right it could supply a lunar lander and exchange services with NASA's Orion (if it doesn't just rent from commercial flights).  Considering NASA already needs ESA for the Orion service module, a lunar mission works further in ESA's favor.

Perhaps a setup could be done with ESA launching the lander into LEO aboard one of the Arianes.  Next NASA launches an SLS with the Orion and EUS.  After docking, the EUS would propel the duo into lunar space (orbit or Lagrange points) whereupon things go much like the old Apollo missions.  Whether there's a moon base or reuseability depend on NASA/ESA agreements.
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Online Coastal Ron

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #13 on: 05/02/2015 10:40 PM »
Apparently the incoming leadership of ESA is speaking about literally reaching for the Moon after the ISS is deorbited... As for this direction in general, I approve. We all know the basic logic behind the Moon: it's a helluvalot closer to us than Mars.

Going to the Moon is a logical choice for those that have never left LEO - which is every country in the world except the U.S.  Plus, due to the general advancement of technology since the 60's, and the experience many countries are getting on the ISS, it's getting less expensive to go to the Moon.

I'll be cheering them on.

Quote
NASA brags about Orion taking us to Mars...but by itself Orion can't safely do anything beyond circling Luna or visiting its Lagrange points;

Let's remember that NASA doesn't yet have an organized effort to go to Mars, just bits and pieces that various factions think are helpful.  So we're in kind of a holding pattern right now for what comes next...

Quote
...the fact ESA's building its service module seems foreboding coupled with ESA's lunar preference.  ESA seems to approach this logically, whereas NASA is attempting a great leap when it can't honestly repeat the effort made 40+ years ago (a less-than-secret embarrassment shared by engineers and enthusiasts).

I'm not sure I see enough hardware being built to be convinced ESA is really going, but the LEO hardware they do have is pretty good.  I think they are capable of building whatever they need.

Quote
Unless NASA establishes the technologies needed for Mars (ISRU, aerocapture, maybe SEP), the Moon is the only thing in our reach.  On the other hand, we already have the means for lunar travel: HLVs, a crewed orbiter...just add lander and the set is complete.  Hypothetically, ESA might develop the lander and even spearhead the moon base it's chief suggested.

Essentially you're saying the only way ESA will get to the Moon is if NASA takes them there?  How is that an ESA Moon program?

Somehow I don't think that's what ESA is thinking about doing...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online redliox

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #14 on: 05/02/2015 11:42 PM »
Unless NASA establishes the technologies needed for Mars (ISRU, aerocapture, maybe SEP), the Moon is the only thing in our reach.  On the other hand, we already have the means for lunar travel: HLVs, a crewed orbiter...just add lander and the set is complete.  Hypothetically, ESA might develop the lander and even spearhead the moon base it's chief suggested.

Essentially you're saying the only way ESA will get to the Moon is if NASA takes them there?  How is that an ESA Moon program?

Somehow I don't think that's what ESA is thinking about doing...

ESA has used NASA numerous times to reach their goals, but naturally they don't wish to be fully dependent on anyone.  It will likely be at least a decade before they create a fully functional European crew vehicle, but perhaps in half that time they may have a new highly capable autonomous vehicle a step better than ATV.  They may still need the Orion for delivering crew, but they could develop spacecraft like a Deep Space Habitat and lunar landers; mainly it is just mastering reentry ESA is behind.  What I'm thinking is more along the lines of NASA needing ESA and providing the one element ESA lacks.
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Offline Impaler

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #15 on: 05/03/2015 05:59 AM »
ESA might simply partner with Russia to do this.  We know the Russians are looking at that L1 station and will have plans for a large Orion like crew vehicle that would be adequate for trips in cis-lunar space.  ESA landers and surface habitats would pair just as well with what Russia will have as it will with American equipment, as we both have over-sized launchers and crew vehicles in the works.  And ESA has a good working relationship with Roscosmos and other up and coming space agencies may also come on-board.

I think this kind of growing international co-operative moon exploration will inevitably pull the US back in to lunar activity simply to avoid being left out.

Online redliox

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #16 on: 05/03/2015 10:56 AM »
ESA might simply partner with Russia to do this.  We know the Russians are looking at that L1 station and will have plans for a large Orion like crew vehicle that would be adequate for trips in cis-lunar space.  ESA landers and surface habitats would pair just as well with what Russia will have as it will with American equipment, as we both have over-sized launchers and crew vehicles in the works.  And ESA has a good working relationship with Roscosmos and other up and coming space agencies may also come on-board.

I dunno...the recent loss of Progress, Phobos-Grunt, numerous schedule delays for Russian ISS modules, the Soviet Phobos...not an encouraging track record.  However, the decision is ESA's, but they could just as easily partner with any of the Asian agencies.  I'd like to see ESA develop vehicles that can dock with whatever they want, and no doubt that is what they'd prefer too.

I think this kind of growing international co-operative moon exploration will inevitably pull the US back in to lunar activity simply to avoid being left out.

Epic agree there.  There will be a paradigm shift the moment administrations change, and if everyone insists on the Moon NASA will meekly nod in that direction, possibly while still claiming "it's still the path to Mars!"
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #17 on: 05/03/2015 04:39 PM »

Epic agree there.  There will be a paradigm shift the moment administrations change, and if everyone insists on the Moon NASA will meekly nod in that direction, possibly while still claiming "it's still the path to Mars!"

Mars Transfer Vehicles are too big to be lifted from Earth fully fuelled so they will need some form of assembly in space.  LEO is a good place to build the space-shipyard. EML-1 and EML-2 are good places to fuel the vehicle and for the crews to join. This means the same spacestations and SEPs can be used for lunar and Mars trips.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #18 on: 05/03/2015 04:51 PM »

Essentially you're saying the only way ESA will get to the Moon is if NASA takes them there?  How is that an ESA Moon program?

Somehow I don't think that's what ESA is thinking about doing...

ESA has 3 major choices:

1. All European mission that will land on the Moon in about 30 years time. Build the capsule first and then the lander. All that development work will be expensive.

2. All European mission that will land on the Moon in about 15 years time. Build the capsule and lander simultaneously, Apollo style. Cost so high that in these austere times that pensions will have to be cancelled - expect riots.

3. Mixed mission that will land on the Moon in about 15 years time. Build the lander and obtain transport to LEO from the Americans and/or Russians. About half the cost of option 2.

I suspect that ESA will go for the quickest and cheapest option which is option 3.

Offline Impaler

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Re: ESA leading us back to the Moon
« Reply #19 on: 05/03/2015 07:38 PM »
While it is true that Roscosmos has had it's share of delays and failures they are still making progress on their program of record, the Angara rocket and the large crew capsule which is comparable to the pace of progress being made in the SLS/Orion, so they should both be available at around the same time.   And while unmanned Roscosmos equipment fails regularly they have not had a lose of life in manned space flight in ages, a point the ESA would value highly.   Remember ESA astronauts are already being trusted to Soyuz launches and the new capsule may be the Russian ride to ISS briefly which would get the Europeans riding on it.  On the other hand their is a long history of attempted partnerships between ESA and Roscosmos that have fallen through so it is by no means assured.

Epic agree there.  There will be a paradigm shift the moment administrations change, and if everyone insists on the Moon NASA will meekly nod in that direction, possibly while still claiming "it's still the path to Mars!"

Presidents don't control the Space Program, and even if they did the same party might retain the White house which should presumably result in no change.  I think the change of the administration AND the party are both irreverent.

What I expect is that Congress gets all worried about 'losing Americas leadership position in Space' and actually ponies up the money for a lunar lander or lets NASA do some kind of lunar COTS program, and instructs NASA to partner with other nations in returning to the moon.

Note that is it not the idea of the Chinese or the Russians or even ESA landing on the moon individually that is goigng to scare people, that can always be dismissed as a 'rehash' of Apollo, it's the idea that they all might start cooperating together with any one of the three being the new 'leader' of that join venture.  That's a pattern America would be very worried about because it would be a clear signal that the US is not the one and only possible leader of any international endeavour.
« Last Edit: 05/03/2015 08:23 PM by Impaler »

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