Author Topic: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget - Feasible but Ludicrously Expensive Missions  (Read 12632 times)

Offline MarsDude

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I'm going to post a series of mission plans that are possible with and use current/in development technology and hardware, but would be prohibitively expensive to fly. Thus the title "If NASA Had An Infinite Budget".

This post will be edited from time to time when new missions are thought up/figured out.

Missions I'm Working On Figuring Out:

-Titan Sample Return

-Pluto Orbiter

-Europa Submarine

---

Missions Posted:

-None yet

---
Yeah, if only...
« Last Edit: 02/16/2017 05:19 PM by MarsDude »
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Offline speedevil

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #1 on: 02/13/2017 07:12 PM »
At some point, this is meaningless - once you get to requiring a large fraction of earths resources expended on one thing, ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fission-fragment_rocket#Dusty_Plasma - would in principle be relevant to this - there is limited new physics to be developed for this, compared to fusion.

It can in principle enable things like a pluto rendevous in about a year from launch.

Even if you can spend infinite money on NASA, the efficiency of what you get may be terrible.


Offline IanThePineapple

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #2 on: 02/13/2017 07:27 PM »
Mars, Mercury, Martian moons, Ceres, Io, Europa, Enceladus and [possibly] Venus sample returns would all be possible with Atlas V 551, Falcon Heavy Delta IV Heavy and eventually SLS
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Offline brickmack

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #3 on: 02/13/2017 11:22 PM »
Mars, Mercury, Martian moons, Ceres, Io, Europa, Enceladus and [possibly] Venus sample returns would all be possible with Atlas V 551, Falcon Heavy Delta IV Heavy and eventually SLS

Martian moons maybe. Unless you're doing some orbital assembly thing and electric propulsion transfer vehicles and a ton of gravity assists, I don't see how (and at that point the statement is meaningless, the same is technically true of any orbital rocket if you're willing to launch half a million of them). Even SLS can just barely get a lander to Europa, nevermind a round trip with an Atlas V

Offline alexterrell

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #4 on: 02/13/2017 11:36 PM »
A permanent manned base on the Martian moons as soon as possible.

Whilst the base is being expanded and developed, NASA could also develop the Mars landers and surface equipment.

This isn't really an "infinite budget" approach, because it could actually work out more cost effective than Mars direct.

In terms of "infinite budget", I recall reading Arthur C Clarke's "Rescue Party" and thinking, if we had 100 years warning that the sun was going Nova, and all defence budgets were reallocated to Space development, what would be done?

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #5 on: 02/14/2017 12:05 AM »
Mars would still be twenty years away...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #6 on: 02/14/2017 12:24 AM »
I'm going to post a series of mission plans that are possible with and use current/in development technology and hardware, but would be prohibitively expensive to fly. Thus the title "If NASA Had An Infinite Budget".

NASA already has a near infinite budget - the U.S. Treasury.  There are no constitutional limits on how much money Congress can allocate to any department or agency.

The real question is "What activities in space are of interest to the U.S. Government, and how much of a priority are they?"

Robotic missions to destinations within our solar system?  Sure they are of interest, but the real question is what century we need to have the answers we seek?  Because while the budget is potentially unlimited, there are lots of priorities we have here on Earth that take precedent.

As to anything regarding sending humans beyond Earth's orbit, we have yet to see a strong interest from those that hold the purse strings in sending government employees to other places in our solar system.  Why?  A distinct lack of a measurable ROI for the U.S. Government, besides "science".
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Hobbes-22

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #7 on: 02/14/2017 09:53 AM »
A manned Grand Tour of the solar system seems mostly possible (maybe except the Venus landing).
(example: http://www.space.com/1135-dvd-review-voyage-planets.html)

Offline MarsDude

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #8 on: 02/14/2017 01:52 PM »
I thought it would be fun to design ridiculous but possible missions ;)

The Titan Sample Return mission so far involves modified Space Shuttle External Tanks, Centaur engines used in ways they were never meant to be, and enough Plutonium in RTGs to make a nuclear bomb.

This is approaching Kerbal Space Program levels of insanity.
« Last Edit: 02/14/2017 01:56 PM by MarsDude »
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Offline MarsDude

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #9 on: 02/14/2017 05:45 PM »
According to NASA's Trajectory Browser, a round-trip rendezvous mission to Saturn (Selected Launch Date: 2020-2030, Max Duration and Max Delta-V set to their maximums, Minimize Delta-V) with the optimal trajectory will take 7.08 km/s of Delta-V to and from Saturn orbit (not including the Titan mission).

Delta-V Breakdown:
-Earth Departure: 4.51 km/s
-Course Correction #1: 1.06 km/s
-Course Correction #2 (during Earth gravity assist): 656 m/s
-Saturn Orbital Insertion: 451 m/s
-Saturn Departure: 411 m/s

Earth Reentry Velocity: 16.39 km/s (VERY FAST)

Let's split the mission into two spacecraft:
-Spacecraft #1: Lands on Titan and collects samples; performs rendezvous with Spacecraft #2 in Titan orbit
-Spacecraft #2: Performs the Saturn Departure burn and acts as a communications relay for Spacecraft #1; the detachable reentry capsule is located on this craft
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Offline MarsDude

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #10 on: 02/14/2017 05:47 PM »
I'm going to post a series of mission plans that are possible with and use current/in development technology and hardware, but would be prohibitively expensive to fly. Thus the title "If NASA Had An Infinite Budget".

NASA already has a near infinite budget - the U.S. Treasury.  There are no constitutional limits on how much money Congress can allocate to any department or agency.

The real question is "What activities in space are of interest to the U.S. Government, and how much of a priority are they?"

Robotic missions to destinations within our solar system?  Sure they are of interest, but the real question is what century we need to have the answers we seek?  Because while the budget is potentially unlimited, there are lots of priorities we have here on Earth that take precedent.

As to anything regarding sending humans beyond Earth's orbit, we have yet to see a strong interest from those that hold the purse strings in sending government employees to other places in our solar system.  Why?  A distinct lack of a measurable ROI for the U.S. Government, besides "science".


You know what I mean
-MarsDude, over and out

Offline Mr. Scott

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #11 on: 02/15/2017 03:59 AM »
Absolutely terraform the moon. 
Need to modify the moon's rotation and the lack of magnetic field. Just connect the Earth and Moon with a cable to transfer power/supplies/cargo.



« Last Edit: 02/22/2017 03:45 AM by Mr. Scott »

Online Galactic Penguin SST

Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #12 on: 02/15/2017 04:37 AM »
....then it's name would not be "NASA".  ;)
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline scienceguy

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #13 on: 02/15/2017 04:49 AM »
If NASA had an infinite budget, then why not build a rotating colony ship with fission drives and send people to Proxima Centauri b? You could launch the presumably 10^7 tonne ship by assembling it piece by piece in orbit!
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Online MATTBLAK

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #14 on: 02/15/2017 05:15 AM »
Sorry; money alone wont achieve all that.
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Offline kch

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #15 on: 02/15/2017 05:19 AM »

In terms of "infinite budget", I recall reading Arthur C Clarke's "Rescue Party" and thinking, if we had 100 years warning that the sun was going Nova, and all defence budgets were reallocated to Space development, what would be done?

Probably not much.  Don't feel bad, though -- we come by it honestly enough ...

Offline Archibald

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #16 on: 02/15/2017 09:04 AM »
They would build the Orion nuclear pulse ship. And to haul its colossal mass in orbit, they would fund ROMBUS and Sea Dragon.  8)
Also, they would buy USS Enterprise nuclear carrier and use it as a launch platform - its nuclear machinery and reactors would split LH2 and LOX out of sea water.

Online MATTBLAK

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #17 on: 02/15/2017 09:53 AM »
What I want and what we would get are two entirely different things. However, it's a matter of degree in what could be achieved with a mixture of old and new ways of doing things - NASA itself may eventually change drastically - or even be disbanded in the decades to come. And if Elon's Interplanetary Transportation System gets up and running reliably - then most bets are off. However; if it is badly delayed, cancelled or fails, then something approximating the following in the broadest terms may happen:

Go hard-out on developing Propellant Depots, Solar Electric and then eventually; Nuclear Electric propulsion. Also Space Nuclear power systems for planetary In-Situ Resource Utilization. SLS optimized with 'flyback', reusable LOX/Kerosene boosters - though this whole launcher would be replaced with a reusable Commercial Space options when they became available. 3x Pad 39's (B & C; as 39A is apparently going to be used by Elon). Pad's 39B & C for SLS operations allowing between 6 and 8 flights per year. Development of 'Mars Direct' similar architecture - 1x SLS Block 2B sends the Direct spacecraft and it's Earth Departure Stage into orbit; near the Propellant Depot. The EDS is refueled and sends the big Direct Spacecraft on Trans-Mars Injection. A subset of this architecture builds a series of Lunar Ouposts - a Radio and Optical array station on the Farside and three Ouposts on the Nearside: the biggest base at the Lunar South Pole and two at other locations in the Highlands and a Maria.

SEP cargo tugs do round trips to Mars and Venusian orbit. Cargo spacecraft do direct entry to a series of Martian Ouposts set up by the Mars Direct transport architecture - the SEP tugs drop them off near Mars and continue around the Sun in a manner very similar to Buzz Aldrin's 'Mars Cycler'. I would advocate a manned Venusian space station floating high in the atmosphere at a moderately temperate altitude. Powerful and capable unmanned Rovers explore the surface of planet Mercury. The Moons of Mars have crewed Outposts. Nuclear Electric/chemical propelled crewed exploration craft with reliable artificial gravity for crews explore the Asteroid belt. Outposts are established on Ceres and Vesta. The two largest outer Moons of Jupiter are eventually manned by large scientific Outposts, while advanced Rovers explore and drill into Europa and Io.

Mankind reaches Titan and establishes a large Outpost there. Other Outposts on at least one moon each of Uranus and Neptune follow in the decades after that - and probably Pluto, too. Fusion powered manned craft visit Kuiper Belt objects over time - though super advanced probes would likely do that first with orbiters and landers both. And in the centuries after that; would humans take a decades-long flight to the very deep space 'Planet 9'? If it exists...?
« Last Edit: 02/15/2017 09:05 PM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline Mr. Scott

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #18 on: 02/16/2017 03:12 AM »
Build a time machine, send twenty bucks back to 1965.  Inflation will accrue the value of the money.  Then stick the new balance back into the time machine again to send it back to 1965.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

At some point in this cycle, there will be a near infinite amount of money.... until the project is cancelled.

Online MATTBLAK

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #19 on: 02/16/2017 03:17 AM »
Why only $20 bucks? I'd make it a thousand or more, invest in things we know succeeded, then build a Private Space Company to join forces with Elon or Bezos... Then get some sh1t done!!
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

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