Author Topic: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?  (Read 27392 times)

Offline MattMason

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #40 on: 06/08/2016 04:07 PM »
We're using the wrong word here.

There is no "mission." Any next adventures to the moon aren't Apollo-like explorations. There is an "expedition," or "homestead," or "colony," or "base."

If anyone, private or public, is going to allocate landers, rovers, material processors, habitats, a launch vehicle and cislunar manned and cargo shuttles, the only real benefit is to go there and establish a beachhead that stays there. Forever.

Why?

(1) No one government, nor even several right now, have a political reason to explore the moon or kit it out beyond an unmanned probe or rover. Governments are public sector. Their money comes from taxing its people or selling its country's resources. If there are no people (as in, several hundred), there can be no government. Now, this doesn't mean that government can't find a way to shoehorn themselves a "piece of the action" if they piggyback on...

(2) The private sector, whose only purpose for going to the moon is a long-term monetary venture. What money can be made from the moon? Mining? No: Much of what's there can be mined here and far more cheaply. Let's also note that the age of "lunar environmentalism" will appear if commercialism goes overboard, stripping the moon so broadly that it changes the face of the moon. Some people are like that.

The most economical commercial reason for the private sector to go to the moon start with lunar-based hotels and homes supporting commercial mining, tourism services (low-G sports, amusement, tourism, space camping, retirement communities). People will pay for a long-term stay or colonizing the moon.

But an infrastructure must be built first. The builder community comes first and builds the power plants and buries the first homes for themselves and later, commercial workers. Commercial Crew-derived shuttling of cargo and crew is done. Next come more habitats, for the hotels, more contractors, the first hospitals, food stores...you can see how this can all positively spiral.

But for some time, there's no money made until you can reliably bring the first people to enjoy it all who pay.

All of this presumes you can convince the commercial side that there's money to be made in the long term, private space travel is reliable and cheaper, especially to the moon (and in comfort, not astronaut-style, suggesting the need for a cislunar habitat that's only for Earth-to-moon transport, like a cruise-ship), comfortable landers...

And governments then step in, because when a group of people get too large, someone has to set laws, enforce them, govern resources--and charge taxes to pay for all that.

I'm not saying anything new. It's just that the thread is talking about tech and not how humans tend to migrate. People go in first, solo, businesses grow or come to these first homesteads, then the government swoops in as people and businesses grow and become towns and cities.

That "international no-country-can-claim-the-moon" treaty thing is going to need a lot of amendment to define what's private, public and common, and whose laws work in what habitat or zone.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 04:08 PM by MattMason »
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Offline clongton

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #41 on: 06/08/2016 04:30 PM »
Hmmm. While I believe a lander plus ISRU is a solid proposal, I would suggest separating them and doing the lander first, then the ISRU. What I am getting at is that the lander will be the mainstay for many, many years so we have to do it with a look into the foreseeable future and provide for those “likely” future needs as well. This will prove costly and time consuming to get it right. Once the design and hardware is fixed and in place there will be no changing it for a very long time.

Unlike Apollo’s LM, I suggest that the lander be a single stage vehicle. This will save considerable mass. Propellant for the ascent would be loaded in the lander’s main tanks, while propellant for the descent would be in external drop tanks to be expended and left on the lunar surface. Eventually, once lunar propellant production is online we could dispense with the drop tanks and just land, refuel on the surface and return to space, where the incoming crew/cargo vehicles would refuel the lander with propellant supplied earlier by lunar ISRU production.
 
The cabin should be large enough to transport seven (7) crew as this seems to be the design capacity of all the underway crew vehicles. This would allow 7 crew to be transported to or from the surface or any combination of crew and pressurized cargo. This cabin would have a twin, based on the exact same core design, and would serve as a cargo-only vehicle for pressurized cargo. An additional cabin could be mounted in place of the crew/cargo cabin, of similar design, but more of a constraint cage for large unpressurized cargo. For this version I see the cargo cage being offloaded and positioned on the surface and the powered stage returned to lunar orbit/EML-2 to wait where it could be outfitted with additional cargo cages transported from earth by other means. This would allow the SLS, FH or Vulcan, or any other nation's capable launch vehicle to send just the cargo thru TLI because the descent stage would be waiting for them at the cis-lunar destination.

All variations of this lander should have provision for refueling either on the lunar surface or in either earth or lunar orbit and for its initial trip to cis-lunar space would make the trip autonomously. Any crew that would be making a surface landing would be transported to cis-lunar space in their respective space-only spacecraft, transfer to the waiting lander and descend. The trip home would be the reverse. No crew should be bringing their lander with them. That creates unnecessarily huge limits on the available earth launch vehicles that could participate.

Once this far-sighted lander capability is in position and fully operational the temptation to use it will be overwhelming to enough different people, governments, NGOs, commercial entities, etc, that payloads to the surface will not be a problem. Getting TO the moon is the easy part. Getting safely down to the surface and back up again is the hard part. Solve THAT roadblock and the lunar surface will be opened to anybody with the financial wherewithal to do it.

In terms of overall architecture I envision this lander, once sent to cis-lunar space, will remain there in either lunar orbit, or imo a better place, EML-2, available for incoming crew or cargo transport from earth. Do this lander right, make it robust enough, and it should serve for many, many missions before it's final descent to the surface for scrapping and cannibalization for use by the surface facilities.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 05:07 PM by clongton »
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Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #42 on: 06/08/2016 04:40 PM »
In 8 years Elon time, humans will be landing on Mars.  I think SpaceX would view any such lunar efforts as a distraction.

1) Who cares what SpaceX thinks, if there are contracts for launches and cargo delivery SpaceX would be all over it  like a cheap suit.
2) You hit the nail on the head with 'Elon time'. I'd comfortably bet everything I own now or in the future that humans to Mars in 2024 has a 0.000000% likelihood of happening.


That's a lot of decimal points, what odds are you offering? :) (I have been known to take the short end of really long odds bets, and I actually hit one once at 100:1)

Whatever odds you want.  I'm comfortable adding a few hundred more zero's to that percentage. 

Although to clarify I meant on the surface of Mars.  There's maybe a 0.1% chance they do a free return style trip Mars by 2024.
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Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #43 on: 06/08/2016 04:54 PM »
Oh great and wise Clongton,

I like where you're going.  However, I'd disagree with a crew size of 7.  I'd say 4, 2 groups of 2.  Everyone should have a buddy.  Maybe the first crews are 2 people.

Crew rotations of 6 months work for the ISS, that should work for the moon as well, except for maybe radiation concerns.  A 2 person mission every 3 months would provide a surface crew of 4.  That seems like a nice starting point.

I like the idea of single stage lander, something like the Curiosity rover Sky crane but reusable and with legs.  the lander could have a modular payload area in the center.  Where it could haul crew or cargo.  Whatever is being delivered needs to be close to the surface.  Unlike the LEM or the proposed Constellation lander.

One of the biggest advantages of the moon is being close to home.  I think a basic ISRU facility could be delivered and made operational to provide oxygen for propellant and crew before the first crew shows up reducing risk.  It doesn't have to be big, just reliable and consistent.

Return propellant, or at least oxidizer, could be refilled on the surface from ISRU storage farm.

Keeping the size of the base rational (unlike ISS), growing incrementally and using as much commercial competition over time should be more affordable and sustainable than the ISS.
Excited to be finally into the first Falcon Heavy flow, we are getting so close!

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #44 on: 06/08/2016 05:13 PM »
The end goal, or overall purpose of going to the Moon matters tremendously, as this alters dramatically what you need to develop to accomplish that end goal. Is it: Further exploration? Colonization? Exploitation of resources? Given a timeline of only 8 years, the most reasonable purpose of going to the Moon is further exploration.

If we want to resume lunar exploration, the best course of action is to mandate a series of stationary landers (to create the long-desired-by-scientists lunar geophysical network) followed by small to mid-sized (MER size) rovers, culminating in a series of small (1-10 kg) sample returns. This is doable within 8 years and would inform where we should go for for further exploration / large sample returns with a manned exploration program (if this is desirable).

There are many locations that would be interesting for further exploration, since we have only just barely scratched the surface of the Moon in terms of terrain types and locations that would be interesting for sample returns. Looking at the old lists of Apollo alternate / planned / desirable landing sites is a good place to start. Examples:

Censorinus Crater – very bright crater (Alternate landing site for Apollo 15)
Marius Hills – possible lava tube skylight (Alternate landing site for Apollo 17)
Tycho Crater – Surveyor 7 site (Potential landing site for the cancelled Apollo 20)

Returning to a site of previous exploration to study the effects of micrometeorite impacts, lunar dust deposition via static forces, solar wind, cosmic rays, etc. on old equipment on the lunar surface would be valuable, and would likely be a good initial target for future human exploration since creative judgment or manipulation may be needed for a sample recovery of such equipment.

Further ranging to areas not covered by Apollo would be desirable as well, we've learned a tremendous amount about the Moon since then with our orbiters. We know for sure the lunar poles and far side offer targets of interest for both science and possible future resource extraction:

Compton-Belkovich region – lunar far side, unusual silicate volcanoes
Permanently shaded areas at the lunar poles
Many, many more.

Further human exploration and exploitation of lunar resources could follow from this initial 8 year period of exploration, if that's the goal that you realy want.
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #45 on: 06/08/2016 07:15 PM »
{snip}
The cabin should be large enough to transport seven (7) crew as this seems to be the design capacity of all the underway crew vehicles. This would allow 7 crew to be transported to or from the surface or any combination of crew and pressurized cargo. This cabin would have a twin, based on the exact same core design, and would serve as a cargo-only vehicle for pressurized cargo. An additional cabin could be mounted in place of the crew/cargo cabin, of similar design, but more of a constraint cage for large unpressurized cargo. For this version I see the cargo cage being offloaded and positioned on the surface and the powered stage returned to lunar orbit/EML-2 to wait where it could be outfitted with additional cargo cages transported from earth by other means. This would allow the SLS, FH or Vulcan, or any other nation's capable launch vehicle to send just the cargo thru TLI because the descent stage would be waiting for them at the cis-lunar destination.

All variations of this lander should have provision for refueling either on the lunar surface or in either earth or lunar orbit and for its initial trip to cis-lunar space would make the trip autonomously. Any crew that would be making a surface landing would be transported to cis-lunar space in their respective space-only spacecraft, transfer to the waiting lander and descend. The trip home would be the reverse. No crew should be bringing their lander with them. That creates unnecessarily huge limits on the available earth launch vehicles that could participate.
{snip}

One thing we can do within the next two years is standardise the interface between the landers and space shipping containers. Some of the containers can be cabins housing people. This will allow independent development of the machines. I suspect that over the years that both landers and containers will come in different sizes.

The landers will need a set of heavy duty connectors able to handle say 20 tonnes of payload under full thrust. I suggest the standard door in the containers is the NASA docking port. This will allow the containers to dock to spacestations, visiting vehicles and the habitats on the Moon (and Mars). The docking port also provides a way for the lander and the container to exchange data, power, consumables and control.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #46 on: 06/08/2016 07:41 PM »
The end goal, or overall purpose of going to the Moon matters tremendously, as this alters dramatically what you need to develop to accomplish that end goal. Is it: Further exploration? Colonization? Exploitation of resources? Given a timeline of only 8 years, the most reasonable purpose of going to the Moon is further exploration.
(snip)

I respectfully disagree.  I think exploration of resources is the correct path for a few reasons.

1) I think it's important to build up capability in 1 location.  Not scatter your equipment out.
2) The moon is a big rock, everywhere you go, it's a big rock.  I know there is more to it than that and there is valuable science.  But, like in Apollo, it's hard to maintain interest in an endless horizon of monotone rock.
3) Exploiting resources will allow a bases capacity to grow and support more science over time.
4) Reduces the cost of missions if ISRU can produce fuels and consumables for crew.
Excited to be finally into the first Falcon Heavy flow, we are getting so close!

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #47 on: 06/08/2016 09:06 PM »
The end goal, or overall purpose of going to the Moon matters tremendously, as this alters dramatically what you need to develop to accomplish that end goal. Is it: Further exploration? Colonization? Exploitation of resources? Given a timeline of only 8 years, the most reasonable purpose of going to the Moon is further exploration.
(snip)

I respectfully disagree.  I think exploration of resources is the correct path for a few reasons.

1) I think it's important to build up capability in 1 location.  Not scatter your equipment out.
2) The moon is a big rock, everywhere you go, it's a big rock.  I know there is more to it than that and there is valuable science.  But, like in Apollo, it's hard to maintain interest in an endless horizon of monotone rock.
3) Exploiting resources will allow a bases capacity to grow and support more science over time. [emphasis mine]
4) Reduces the cost of missions if ISRU can produce fuels and consumables for crew.

It is an admirable goal, but it's not achievable in 8 years.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #48 on: 06/08/2016 09:48 PM »
In 8 years Elon time, humans will be landing on Mars.  I think SpaceX would view any such lunar efforts as a distraction.

1) Who cares what SpaceX thinks, if there are contracts for launches and cargo delivery SpaceX would be all over it  like a cheap suit.
2) You hit the nail on the head with 'Elon time'. I'd comfortably bet everything I own now or in the future that humans to Mars in 2024 has a 0.000000% likelihood of happening.


That's a lot of decimal points, what odds are you offering? :) (I have been known to take the short end of really long odds bets, and I actually hit one once at 100:1)

Whatever odds you want.  I'm comfortable adding a few hundred more zero's to that percentage. 

Although to clarify I meant on the surface of Mars.  There's maybe a 0.1% chance they do a free return style trip Mars by 2024.
Okay! I'll take it at 1,000,000:1 odds, and I'll pay in the form of beverage of your choice (of that 1:1,000,000 value, or more at my discretion) that you can redeem in person wherever I'm living at that point. In return, I just want you to pay for my SpaceX ticket to Mars (the slim chance of this sort of thing being available in my lifetime will be much improved if SpaceX gets people to the surface of Mars by 2025, launched in 2024). :D
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 09:50 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #49 on: 06/08/2016 10:50 PM »
The end goal, or overall purpose of going to the Moon matters tremendously, as this alters dramatically what you need to develop to accomplish that end goal. Is it: Further exploration? Colonization? Exploitation of resources? Given a timeline of only 8 years, the most reasonable purpose of going to the Moon is further exploration.
(snip)

I respectfully disagree.  I think exploration of resources is the correct path for a few reasons.

1) I think it's important to build up capability in 1 location.  Not scatter your equipment out.
2) The moon is a big rock, everywhere you go, it's a big rock.  I know there is more to it than that and there is valuable science.  But, like in Apollo, it's hard to maintain interest in an endless horizon of monotone rock.
3) Exploiting resources will allow a bases capacity to grow and support more science over time. [emphasis mine]
4) Reduces the cost of missions if ISRU can produce fuels and consumables for crew.

It is an admirable goal, but it's not achievable in 8 years.

All of the dream: No.
Some of the dream in 8 years: Yes.

We should be able to land small robotic rovers within 8 years.
A communications and power hub for the robots is possible.
Sophisticated robotic rovers - depends on their current state.
Medium cargo lander able to land many tons - I suspect that sufficient preliminary work has been done to make this possible, other people do not.
A single habitat - may be possible if something very similar is already in orbit and the medium cargo lander works.
Manned rover - possible but would need funding.
People - likely to take longer. Need reusable lander with cabin. Spacestations and propellant depots in lunar orbit and LEO probably needed.

Small scale ISRU may be possible in 8 years using robotic systems. Large scale will have to wait for a bigger lunar base.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #50 on: 06/09/2016 02:34 PM »
A_M_Swallow,

I'd happily take small scale ISRU and some dumb-ish rovers and that power hub you threw in.

Rovers that can do recon of the area, not as much focused on science.  A good size, capable of covering ground, collecting some science like minerals, 3-d imaging and ground penetrating radar.

Small scale ISRU that proves concept, produces enough for a fuel cell maybe or some capability to boot strap to larger ISRU capability.

Landing beacon obviously.  How cool would the video be of a cargo lander coming in for touchdown?

Edit: Rover endurance and ruggedness over sexiness and complexity.  something that can survives years of lunar day/night cycles.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 03:06 PM by wannamoonbase »
Excited to be finally into the first Falcon Heavy flow, we are getting so close!

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #51 on: 06/09/2016 09:37 PM »
{snip}
Edit: Rover endurance and ruggedness over sexiness and complexity.  something that can survives years of lunar day/night cycles.

There are several rovers in development at the moment. Since surviving lunar day/night cycles adds mass and causes a major increase in cost I suspect that they may only work for 1 lunar day cycle.

NASA could run a COTS like development program for rugged rover chassis with bodies able to transport and protect their payload through several lunar day/night cycles. Permit 3 or 4 different sizes. Make it a competition by awarding two rovers of each size a flight to the Moon in 2019. The free flights to use dummy/test payloads supplied by NASA.

The companies can recover their investment by selling TRL 9 lunar rover chassis to science laboratories (including NASA's), universities and mining companies. Ask the LunarCATALYST companies for their transportation fees.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #52 on: 06/09/2016 10:03 PM »
It is an admirable goal, but it's not achievable in 8 years.

All of the dream: No.
Some of the dream in 8 years: Yes.

We should be able to land small robotic rovers within 8 years.
A communications and power hub for the robots is possible.
Sophisticated robotic rovers - depends on their current state.
Medium cargo lander able to land many tons - I suspect that sufficient preliminary work has been done to make this possible, other people do not.
A single habitat - may be possible if something very similar is already in orbit and the medium cargo lander works.
Manned rover - possible but would need funding.
People - likely to take longer. Need reusable lander with cabin. Spacestations and propellant depots in lunar orbit and LEO probably needed.

Small scale ISRU may be possible in 8 years using robotic systems. Large scale will have to wait for a bigger lunar base.

Isn't the entire point of your OP "what can be done in 8 years"?

Accomplishing the staging of resources which the next administration may decide to abandon isn't really what you'd like to see, is it?

If your end goal is exploitation of lunar resources, the next question is: to what end are you extracting resources? What is the ISRU for?

Dispense with precursor rover missions entirely, they really aren't needed. We've got good area maps and terrain elevation data from orbiters, including composition maps showing where various substances on the Moon are located. Money needs to be immediately put into building flight-ready ISRU units, crew / cargo lunar landers, and lunar surface habitats, since those are the main big items needed that we don't have right now. Assuming the use of SLS and Orion for launch of these items and crew to the Moon.

Before 2030 we could probably, if we really wanted to, put two habitats, cargo units, and an ISRU device or two on the Moon as a first outpost. Depending what resources you want to exploit, that would be a good start.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 10:23 PM by whitelancer64 »
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #53 on: 06/09/2016 10:26 PM »

Isn't the entire point of your OP "what can be done in 8 years"?

Accomplishing the staging of resources which the next administration may decide to abandon isn't really what you'd like to see, is it?

No, but to live is to risk.

One of the reasons for pushing prospecting rovers and ISRU equipment is to get away from the high risk situation of having a monopoly suppler of money.

The next president can be offered the opportunity of going down in history as the founder of a robotic Moon base.
NASA offers the president after that a manned Moon base as his legacy.

Simply because presidents tend to plan 8 years ahead does not prevent rocket men from planning 16 years ahead. Just ensure that there is something to impress the voters ever 3-4 years.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #54 on: 06/09/2016 10:42 PM »
No, but to live is to risk.

One of the reasons for pushing prospecting rovers and ISRU equipment is to get away from the high risk situation of having a monopoly suppler of money.

The next president can be offered the opportunity of going down in history as the founder of a robotic Moon base.
NASA offers the president after that a manned Moon base as his legacy.

Simply because presidents tend to plan 8 years ahead does not prevent rocket men from planning 16 years ahead. Just ensure that there is something to impress the voters ever 3-4 years.

NASA makes recommendations to the President, the President makes recommendations to Congress, and Congress is the one who decides what NASA is going to do.

If half of Congress doesn't like the president (as seems will be the case at least for the next president), they really don't have any motivation to make him / her look good to the voters.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #55 on: 06/09/2016 11:49 PM »
No, but to live is to risk.

One of the reasons for pushing prospecting rovers and ISRU equipment is to get away from the high risk situation of having a monopoly suppler of money.

The next president can be offered the opportunity of going down in history as the founder of a robotic Moon base.
NASA offers the president after that a manned Moon base as his legacy.

Simply because presidents tend to plan 8 years ahead does not prevent rocket men from planning 16 years ahead. Just ensure that there is something to impress the voters ever 3-4 years.

NASA makes recommendations to the President, the President makes recommendations to Congress, and Congress is the one who decides what NASA is going to do.

If half of Congress doesn't like the president (as seems will be the case at least for the next president), they really don't have any motivation to make him / her look good to the voters.

One of the main skills of US presidents is building support for his / her policies in Congress. So that is normal politics.

If each rover gets built in a different state a good negotiator may be able to gain a few friends in the Senate.

ItemStates
Rovers: 4 sizes, 2 per size8
Solar array hub1
Communications hub1
Types of lander3
Types of launch vehicles2
Launch sites3
Total18

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #56 on: 06/10/2016 02:17 PM »
One of the main skills of US presidents is building support for his / her policies in Congress. So that is normal politics.

If each rover gets built in a different state a good negotiator may be able to gain a few friends in the Senate.

ItemStates
Rovers: 4 sizes, 2 per size8
Solar array hub1
Communications hub1
Types of lander3
Types of launch vehicles2
Launch sites3
Total18

Dispense with precursor rover missions entirely, they really aren't needed. We've got good area maps and terrain elevation data from orbiters, including composition maps showing where various substances on the Moon are located.

If your end goal is exploitation of lunar resources, the next question is: to what end are you extracting resources? What is the ISRU for?

Money needs to be immediately put into building flight-ready ISRU units, crew / cargo lunar landers, and lunar surface habitats, since those are the main big items needed that we don't have right now. Assuming the use of SLS and Orion for launch of these items and crew to the Moon.

Before 2030 we could probably, if we really wanted to, put two habitats, cargo units, and an ISRU device or two on the Moon as a first outpost. Depending what resources you want to exploit, that would be a good start.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline ThereIWas3

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #57 on: 06/10/2016 04:36 PM »
Something that would interest the science community is getting some astronomical resources (optical, and particularly radio telescopes) on the far side.  These do not have to be manned full time once constructed, but do require some infrastructure work for power and for communications around the edge back to Earth.

You could do some interesting things with long-baseline interferometry between a few widely spaced facilities back there for pure research, SETI, and deep space radar looking for rogue asteroids.
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Offline whitelancer64

Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #58 on: 06/10/2016 04:44 PM »
<snip> deep space radar looking for rogue asteroids.

Radar isn't particularly good for searching for asteroids, there's a lot of noise in radar data. It's great for precisely measuring the orbits of asteroids we've already found, but we can do that equally well from Earth.

An IR telescope is a better option, particularly for the 2 week lunar night, but will need to be well shielded during the 2 week day.
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Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #59 on: 06/10/2016 04:55 PM »
"Dispense with precursor rover missions entirely, they really aren't needed. We've got good area maps and terrain elevation data from orbiters, including composition maps showing where various substances on the Moon are located. "

No, ground truth is wayyyy better that orbital remote sensing for composition.  Apart from anything else, orbital data are always an average of every grain in the area of regolith.  You need to get APXS or LIBS on individual rocks to get useful composition.  What we have now is only good enough to suggest very generally where interesting things might be, and much is completely unknown.  So if you want to understand lunar resources you need to get on the surface.  I would almost go so far as to say that orbiters have little purpose after LRO except for comm relay.

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