Author Topic: Mars Science Lab for Lunar Precursor Mission using Centaur Extended Mission Kit  (Read 3389 times)

Offline pansh

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Could parts of the Mars Science Lab design be used for a lunar robotic precursor mission?Would like feedback on whether this is a dumb idea or not.

Basic Concept:

1. Use the MSL descent stage(aka Skycrane) and rover for application to a 2014-2015 lunar precursor robotic mission.

2. Launch on Atlas V 551 with upper stage Centaur modified for lunar vicinity operations with an extended mission kit (EMK).

3. No MSL heat shield, backshell, or cruise stage required for this mission.

4. Spacecraft mass = 2270 kg (850 kg rover, 829 kg descent stage, 390 kg descent prop, ~200 kg Centaur-spacecraft adapter)

5. Centaur prop remaining after launch into 200 x 200 nm LEO orbit = 11500 kg.

6. Use Centaur for TLI, LOI, and approximately 80% of descent delta-V (i.e. use Centaur as "crasher" braking stage.)

7. Skycrane descent stage performs terminal descent (~400 m/s).

8. Assume the following delta-V requirements: 3100 m/s TLI, 800 m/s LOI, 1950 m/s descent (split 1550 m/s Centaur + 400 m/s Skycrane).

Seems like this could save NASA a boat load in design and development cost on a robotic lunar lander (<$1B FY11 budget cap on robotic precursor missions?) AND give them some initial experience in doing cryo in-space propulsion beyond LEO (e.g. cryo prop storage and management, multiple RL10 engine relights, lunar vicinity comm, etc.).

One possible "tall pole" may be the availability of plutonium for the MMRTG power source. Does anybody have info on the plutonium situation?

Offline neilh

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Interesting idea. Is there a cost breakdown anywhere of the MSL? That should give some insight into how much a lunar quasi-duplicate would cost.
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Offline pansh

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I think the original MSL cost was ~$1.9B, but I think they are now pushing $3B with cost overruns. Hopefully, much of the cost could be avoided in a lunar version of MSL, as all off the bugs would have been worked out of the design and much of the detailed design would exist.

Offline neilh

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Interesting idea. Is there a cost breakdown anywhere of the MSL? That should give some insight into how much a lunar quasi-duplicate would cost.

From the February GAO report on NASA and large-scale projects:

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-227SP
Quote
Common Name: MSL:
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL):

Figure: Illustration of MSL.

Source: NASNJPL-Caltech.

[End of figure]

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is part of the Mars Exploration
Program (MEP). The MEP seeks to understand whether Mars was, is, or
can be a habitable world. To answer this question the MSL project will
investigate how geologic, climatic, and other processes have worked to
shape Mars and its environment over time, as well as how they interact
today. The MSL will achieve these objectives by placing a mobile
science laboratory on the Mars surface to assess a local site as a
potential habitat for life, past or present. The MSL is considered one
of NASA's flagship projects and will be the most advanced rover yet
sent to explore the surface of Mars.

Formulation:
Formulation start: 11/03;
Preliminary design review: 6/06;
Project confirmation: 8/06;

Implementation:
Critical design review: 6/07;
GAO review: 12/09;
Launch readiness date 10/11.

Project Essentials:

NASA Center Lead: Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Partners: U.S. Department of Energy, Centre Nationale d'Etude Spatiale
(France), Russian Federal Space Agency, Centro de Astrobiologia
(Spain), Canadian Space Agency.

Major Contractors: in-house development.

Projected Launch Date: October 2011.

Launch Location: Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla.

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V.

Mission Duration: 1 year of travel, 2 years of operations.

Project Performance (then year dollars in millions):

Total Project Cost:
Baseline Est. (FY 2008): $1,642.2;
Latest (Oct. 2009): $2,305.3;
Change: 40.4%.

Formulation Cost:
Baseline Est. (FY 2008): $515.1;
Latest (Oct. 2009): $515.5;
Change: 0.1%.

Development Cost:
Baseline Est. (FY 2008): $968.6;
Latest (Oct. 2009): $1,631.0;
Change: 68.4%.

Operations Cost:
Baseline Est. (FY 2008): $158.5;
Latest (Oct. 2009): $158.8;
Change: 0.2%.

Launch Schedule:
Baseline Est. (FY 2008): 9/2009;
Latest (Oct. 2009): 10/2011;
Change: 25 months.

Project Challenges:
* Technology Maturity;
* Complexity of Heritage Technology;
* Design Stability.

Project Status:

Since the project was baselined, MSL's cost has grown over $660
million because of technological and engineering problems. This
includes more than a 68 percent increase in development costs. The
project is using a 25-month schedule delay to work on overcoming
technical challenges with the actuators and avionics that were the
primary drivers for the slip. NASA reported to the Congress that MSL
had exceeded both its development cost and schedule baselines. In
addition, MSL is currently seeking re-authorization from the Congress
since the project has exceeded its cost baseline by more than 30
percent.

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL): Detailed Project Discussion:

At the preliminary design review, the project assessed all seven of
its critical technologies as immature resulting from late development
challenges it encountered. At the critical design review a year later,
three of the seven critical technologies had been replaced by backup
technologies with two of the seven still assessed as immature,
including one of the replacement technologies. In addition, the MSL
project relied on several heritage technologies that had to be re-
designed, re-engineered, or replaced. For example, the heat shield—
constructed of a super light-weight ablator that had flown on previous
missions—was considered nearly ready at the critical design review but
experienced a significant setback in testing and could not be approved
for use on MSL. As a result, the project selected a new and less
mature technology—phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA)—which was
successfully used on the STARDUST mission Earth return capsule.
According to the MSL project office, the impact of this change was
approximately $30 million in cost growth and a nine-month delay in
delivery of the heat shield.

The MSL project design was not stable at the critical design review
(CDR). Several design changes were required to address various issues.
For example, the plumbing for the propulsion system was redesigned
because it was determined that MSL needed larger, rigid lines for the
system than were previously used on smaller Mars rovers. These thicker
lines inadvertently became load-bearing components, which caused the
project to redesign part of the structure to account for the loads and
shift them to MSL's primary structure.

Furthermore, project officials said they underestimated the overall
complexity of the rover and realized in 2008 that MSL could not
maintain a 2009 launch readiness date. The project experienced
problems with the actuators—the motors that allow the vehicle to move
and execute the sample operations performed by the lab. MSL project
officials said they wanted to implement a dry lubrication scheme with
lightweight titanium gears for the actuators. However, during
fabrication it was discovered that this scheme did not provide the
durability needed for MSL. The project reverted to a heavier stainless
steel gear system with the same wet lubricant used by prior projects.
Project officials added that this decision to change the actuator
scheme was late in the process, ultimately causing delays when one of
the vendors developing the stainless steel gears could not meet
production demands. In addition, project officials stated that the
avionics package was also part of the reason for the launch delay.
They said that the avionics hardware was a new design that had never
been flown on earlier missions and was delivered to the project in an
immature state. The delay in development of the avionics hardware
resulted in delays to the related avionics software. Project officials
told us they hope to have these issues resolved by November 2009 and
that they plan to perform all the necessary test and integration
activities for the spacecraft in 2010. They added that extra time will
allow for a much more robust test campaign.

Since the baseline in 2008, the life-cycle cost for the project has
increased by over $660 million—including more than a 68 percent
increase in development costs—and the launch has been delayed until at
least October 2011 since launch windows for Mars mission are optimally
aligned every 26 months. As a result, NASA reported to the Congress,
as required by law, that MSL had exceeded its development cost
baseline by more than 15% and schedule baseline by more than 6 months.
In addition, NASA is seeking re-authorization from Congress since the
project has exceeded its development cost baseline by more than the 30
percent.
Someone is wrong on the Internet.
http://xkcd.com/386/

Offline JasonAW3

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Could parts of the Mars Science Lab design be used for a lunar robotic precursor mission?Would like feedback on whether this is a dumb idea or not.

Basic Concept:

1. Use the MSL descent stage(aka Skycrane) and rover for application to a 2014-2015 lunar precursor robotic mission.

2. Launch on Atlas V 551 with upper stage Centaur modified for lunar vicinity operations with an extended mission kit (EMK).

3. No MSL heat shield, backshell, or cruise stage required for this mission.

4. Spacecraft mass = 2270 kg (850 kg rover, 829 kg descent stage, 390 kg descent prop, ~200 kg Centaur-spacecraft adapter)

5. Centaur prop remaining after launch into 200 x 200 nm LEO orbit = 11500 kg.

6. Use Centaur for TLI, LOI, and approximately 80% of descent delta-V (i.e. use Centaur as "crasher" braking stage.)

7. Skycrane descent stage performs terminal descent (~400 m/s).

8. Assume the following delta-V requirements: 3100 m/s TLI, 800 m/s LOI, 1950 m/s descent (split 1550 m/s Centaur + 400 m/s Skycrane).

Seems like this could save NASA a boat load in design and development cost on a robotic lunar lander (<$1B FY11 budget cap on robotic precursor missions?) AND give them some initial experience in doing cryo in-space propulsion beyond LEO (e.g. cryo prop storage and management, multiple RL10 engine relights, lunar vicinity comm, etc.).

One possible "tall pole" may be the availability of plutonium for the MMRTG power source. Does anybody have info on the plutonium situation?


Interesting.

Additional cost savings could be had by replacing the Mars specific experiments and sensor systems for ones more tailored to a Lunar mission.

     In addition,  As we are now looking at more exploration of both the Moon and Mars, might it mot be a good idea to start developing a series of standardized rovers and landers?

     Obviously the sort of tailoring for Mars environments would go a long ways towards proofing it against Lunar conditions, (with the exception of a lack of an atmosphere, of course) and would allow a faster, better cheaper approach for the probes, by mass producing small, medium and large rovers, and tailoring them to the mission by swapping out standardized sized experiment, sensor and manipulation modules, as dictated by the mission.
     The Aeroshells used for Mars and Venus missions, could likewise be configured to carry various lander/ payload pallets, including rovers, flyers and even balloons, for a multiptonged mission.  This assumes the use of the MRL aeroshell carrying multiple rovers in the bouncing landers,  a couple of mapping airplanes, and even a couple of balloons for weather and atmospheric monitoring.
     Properly reconfigured, the MRL platform would make a good semiautonimous cargo carrier for remote bases on the moon and on Mars.  using a combination of both nuclear thermal and solar power, these platforsprove quite usefull for bothexploration and eventual colinization.  (Yes, I realize that the MRL is relatively small for use as a cargo carrier, but I was thinking more of mission critical cargos, such as consumables, which are typically compact, if not low mass).

     It also occures to me that it may be possible to configure a later version of the MRL to be able to swap experiment and sensor packages from a centralized second lander, using a remote manipulator arm similar, but smaller scale, to the Canadarm on the space shuttle.  Assuming as well, dual thermal electric power plants, it should be possible to configure the future MRL to "hot swap" the units as needed, in addition to possibly swaping out wheel / suspension assemblies as they wear out.

     It maybe possible for the larger MRL vehicle to carry a number of smaller rovers and deploy them on a reinforced fiber optic tether, to allow exploration of caves, canyons and other ares that a larger rover would have difficulty accessing.

     Having a MRL with the capibility of swapping out experimentation modules and other components, including having a few spare experimental modules on the seperate lander, (as it is possible that a failure in on module may not be reflected in the spare) would allow a two launch mission to Mars or the Moon, to be reconfigured as if it were a dozen different missions, thus further saving time and money.

     Your idea is actually pretty good, and, as most of the components are either availabe or could be fabricated from existing plans and components, this is a mission that come in rather cheaply.

Jason
« Last Edit: 05/01/2010 10:29 PM by JasonAW3 »
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