Author Topic: Asteroid experts plan privately funded Sentinel Space Telescope  (Read 26115 times)

Offline Comga

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This is not going to be a small vehicle. They have it listed on an F9 but something tells me this may end up on an FH.
The spec sheet provided by B612 give the Sentinel's mass at 1,500kg. Recently released NLS II info states that the Falcon 9 1.1 will have C3 performance of about  C3=23 (km/s)^2. I'm not sure what the proposed orbit will take but it sounds doable with out a Falcon Heavy.
Agreed
This presentation on Astrodynamics has a "real world" Venus trajectory with C3=7.8 km^2/sec^2.  An F9 V1.1 should meet this with significant margin.  The choice of rocket is solid.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Comga

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There is a proposed Discovery class mission from JPL called NEOCam that would operate in Earth orbit. As a Discovery-class mission, it is in the $425 million class (without launch vehicle). Put a similar spacecraft in orbit near Venus, with cryo-cooling, and it's going to cost more.
(snip)
Simply put, what B612 is proposing to do is neither simple nor cheap.

With all due respect, JPL is not a good basis for cost estimation.  The Curiosity rover is a triumph, but its price is astounding, not only in the realm of space missions but even for Mars missions.  JPL did win a Discovery mission, but only by reflying an existing design without paying for new instruments.  Their reflight of Curiosity is discussed as $1.5B "plus or minus $200M" and eight years.  The brilliant staff at JPL know how to ring "extra nines" out of the probability of success, but not in a cost efficient manner, for institutional reasons. 

But you are right.  It is neither simple nor cheap.  Around half a billion dollars is not cheap, but it should be sufficient.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline JohnFornaro

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The B612 technology is not a big step, in fact it is well within the current technology...

As for cost the array and ASIC is probably on order $10 million, my guess is the whole satellite is on order $100 million. Maybe Launch and operations total on order $250 million.

Not even close. This is easily $500 million+

And the processing is not simple.

You don't think that a private enterprise can be made cheaper than government procured? I'm not doubting your numbers, but I'm wondering about my first question, and, if you think a private can do it for less, how much would it cost to the government.

I think there is little doubt that a private enterprise can do a mission of this sort for less than the federal government.  But BlackStar did not deny this general observation, in this particular post.  He simply asserted that your estimate was too low, and offered an estimate of his own.

He usually doesn't answer my questions, but still, I would ask:

Does the estimate of $500M include a heuristic factor that acknowledges the pricing advantages of private space efforts versus government space efforts?

I see that he did answer this question somewhat:

Now maybe you'd get some of that in a private procurement, but probably not more than you would with a government procurement.

To me, this underscores the difficulty of guessing the price tag of such an ambitious mission.

This thread is about to break down on the issue of commercial vs government procurement efficiency, so I would suggest that anyone wanting that discussion start up their own thread.

This thread should focus on the issue of whether this not-for-profit has the capability of raising the cash for the mission and managing the mission.

Good point, but as MP99 pointed out, the commercial vs. government pricing comparison is intimately tied into the speculation.

The range of $200M to $750M is a huge one; all else being equal in the fundraising, you'd get to $200M before you'd get to $750M.

Quote from: the oracle
B-612 was the name of the asteroid the little prince lived on.

Bottom line: if you're going to name your organization after a pop culture character, pick one that is easily recognizable, not obscure, weird, and French.

Sigh.

Of course my parents did hitchhike to Woodstock while I was in utero...

Kevin!  You rock, so to speak...

Anyhow, this thing's about as tall as the Citigroup building, which only cost $192M.  I don't think they can get it on an F9.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline MP99

Their reflight of Curiosity is discussed as $1.5B "plus or minus $200M"

I wonder how much of that is creating the new instrument/experiment package?

ISTM B612 won't be bootstrapping innovative new instrument types on their mission.

cheers, Martin

Online Blackstar

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With all due respect, JPL is not a good basis for cost estimation.

The key issue here is that it was proposed for a Discovery-class competition and it is cost-capped. That means that whoever proposes it has to prove to a review team at NASA HQ that it can be done for the cost cap. Now considering that NEOCam did not make it into the final round of Discovery, it's not possible to say with any kind of certainty that it could have made the cost cap. But it did receive technology funding from NASA HQ, which can at least be accepted as tacit acceptance from HQ that the mission is doable within the Discovery budget, if it ever gets selected. (I happen to have worked with the PI. That person is very familiar with orbiting survey telescopes.)

Bottom line is that this is a mission that the experts who do this stuff happen to believe is in the Discovery (~$500 million) cost range.

Online Blackstar

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Their reflight of Curiosity is discussed as $1.5B "plus or minus $200M"

1-I wonder how much of that is creating the new instrument/experiment package?

2-ISTM B612 won't be bootstrapping innovative new instrument types on their mission.

1-By total coincidence, this past week I happened to talk to the person who headed the team that did the independent cost estimate for the Mars 2020 rover and asked him that exact question. According to him, when the Mars Program Planning Group evaluated several possible rover designs, they baselined the instrument package as a sample cacher, essentially the same one that was in the planetary science decadal survey. (If I remember correctly, that cacher had 19 cylindrical sample compartments.) The instrument package also included a drill. They had to make minor variations depending upon the size of the rover (like adjusting the size of the drill), but he said that the instrument suite did not drive the cost estimate for the Mars 2020 rover. In addition, he said that they went through JPL's MSL/Curiosity books quite thoroughly in order to develop their estimate. (Think of it as an outside audit.) I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that the $1.5 billion estimate for the Mars 2020 rover is not a JPL estimate, it is an independent estimate.

2-You might want to look at their proposal more closely. From what I remember there are two aspects to it that are new. The first is the survey detector itself. Nothing like that has been flown before. Now it's not totally unprecedented (WISE and Kepler had survey telescopes), but it is not a clone of a previous instrument. Second, it has a cryo-cooler technology that has not been flown before. Now I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure that they're not talking about taking off-the-shelf components here. They're going to have to develop this stuff.
« Last Edit: 12/23/2012 08:01 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Comga

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From the spec. sheet on there web site,

http://b612foundation.org/media/sentinelmission/

this looks like it could be a real nice optic, my first cut analysis says on order 25 micron pixel pitch, f1 to f2, probably Cassigrain, no big technology hurtles.

These are not at all reasonable assumptions.

This cannot be a Cassegrain, as those are narrow field devices with curve fields, and far IR field flatteners are troublesome and unnecessary.  F/1 and F/2 are way too fast. 

Previous Ball Aerospace instruments discussed in public include Three Mirror Anastigmats (TMAs) (Ralph on New Horizons and others) and folded TMAs, and four mirror telescopes (Operational Landsat Imager on LDCM).   Those are also unobscurred systems, which have other advantages.  Previously discussed IR focal planes have smaller pixels than you suggest.  Ralph is passively cooled athermal instrument and Spitzer used radiative cooling behind a sunshade. 

However, your conclusion is valid. This will be a real nice optic without enormous technological hurdles, although there are always some.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Archibald

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Quote
Quote from: Blackstar on 07/03/2012 12:23 PM

    Bottom line: if you're going to name your organization after a pop culture character, pick one that is easily recognizable, not obscure, weird, and French.


Sigh.



Bottom line: if you're going to name your organization after a pop culture character, pick one that is easily recognizable, not obscure, weird, and French.


I fart in your general direction.

Have a nice day !

Online Blackstar

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Did you happen to hit "return" again by accident?

Offline simonbp

This cannot be a Cassegrain, as those are narrow field devices with curve fields, and far IR field flatteners are troublesome and unnecessary.  F/1 and F/2 are way too fast.

The primary might be that fast; IIRC Kepler was pretty similar.

But like Kepler, the optimal for a wide field would be a Schmidt with the focal plane in the middle of the tube.
« Last Edit: 12/26/2012 11:00 PM by simonbp »

Online Blackstar

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A new article:

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20121222/SPACE/312220018/Private-venture-wants-keep-its-wary-eye-out-asteroids

Private venture wants to keep its wary eye out for asteroids
Deep-space telescope could be ready in 2018
7:12 AM, Dec 22, 2012   | 

An asteroid measuring half a city block will pass close by the Earth on Feb. 15, but poses no threat. The University of Central Florida in Orlando plans to host a viewing event using live feeds from telescopes in Spain to watch the pass of the asteroid designated 2012 DA14, expected around 2:30 p.m. local time.

So, the world did not end Friday because of an asteroid blast or any of the other calamities imagined to be predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar.

But some say a serious asteroid strike is just a matter of time, and we should be ready.

For evidence of what might come, see the 1908 “Tunguska event” in Siberia, said Ed Lu, a former shuttle and International Space Station astronaut who heads the nonprofit B612 Foundation (the name references the asteroid home from “The Little Prince.”)



(more in a second)

Online Blackstar

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From the above-cited article:

"To open Earth’s eyes, the B612 Foundation has partnered with Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace to design and build a roughly $500 million infrared space telescope able to spot hundreds of thousands of asteroids.

The proposed spacecraft, which has passed a preliminary technical review, is the size of a FedEx van . The foundation hopes to launch it on a SpaceX rocket by 2018, possibly from Cape Canaveral."


To my knowledge, this is the first time I've seen an article actually quote a price for their space telescope. I noted earlier that JPL's NEOCam proposal was for the Discovery program, which is in the $450 million range. That is for an Earth orbiting satellite. I think that B612's estimate of "roughly $500 million" is probably low. Sending the spacecraft to a near-Venus orbit and cryo-cooling it increases the cost. And I know from the NEO study we did a few years ago that Ball Aerospace's cost for a similar mission was in the $600 million cost range.

This project is highly unlikely to happen, but I do hope that B612 gets somebody to do an independent cost estimate for them.
« Last Edit: 12/27/2012 01:49 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Comga

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This cannot be a Cassegrain, as those are narrow field devices with curve fields, and far IR field flatteners are troublesome and unnecessary.  F/1 and F/2 are way too fast.

The primary might be that fast; IIRC Kepler was pretty similar.

But like Kepler, the optimal for a wide field would be a Schmidt with the focal plane in the middle of the tube.

Your point could be reasonable until you consider a cryogenic, mid-IR Schmidt plate.  Kepler was for visible light, and the Schmidt plate is made of Fused  Silica.  And remember, Kepler was for precision radiometry on as large a number of targets that can fit on the staring focal plane.  Sentinel will be for astrometry, and can trade field of view for other things including exposure time before repointing.   The optimum FOV will not be as large as Kepler.

It is not a Cassegrain.  It is not a Ritchey-Chretien.  It is not a Schmidt.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline simonbp

Yeah, I forgot they were doing mid-IR (5-10 micron). I'm not quite convinced that's the most efficient route (because of the sunshield, they are always looking at high phase angle, so reflected sunlight is going to be far brighter than mid-IR emission), but hey, it's their money...
« Last Edit: 12/27/2012 06:52 PM by simonbp »

Offline MP99

Their reflight of Curiosity is discussed as $1.5B "plus or minus $200M"

1-I wonder how much of that is creating the new instrument/experiment package?

2-ISTM B612 won't be bootstrapping innovative new instrument types on their mission.

1-By total coincidence, this past week I happened to talk to the person who headed the team that did the independent cost estimate for the Mars 2020 rover and asked him that exact question. According to him, when the Mars Program Planning Group evaluated several possible rover designs, they baselined the instrument package as a sample cacher, essentially the same one that was in the planetary science decadal survey. (If I remember correctly, that cacher had 19 cylindrical sample compartments.) The instrument package also included a drill. They had to make minor variations depending upon the size of the rover (like adjusting the size of the drill), but he said that the instrument suite did not drive the cost estimate for the Mars 2020 rover. In addition, he said that they went through JPL's MSL/Curiosity books quite thoroughly in order to develop their estimate. (Think of it as an outside audit.) I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that the $1.5 billion estimate for the Mars 2020 rover is not a JPL estimate, it is an independent estimate.

2-You might want to look at their proposal more closely. From what I remember there are two aspects to it that are new. The first is the survey detector itself. Nothing like that has been flown before. Now it's not totally unprecedented (WISE and Kepler had survey telescopes), but it is not a clone of a previous instrument. Second, it has a cryo-cooler technology that has not been flown before. Now I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure that they're not talking about taking off-the-shelf components here. They're going to have to develop this stuff.

Thanks for setting me straight, on both fronts. Always appreciate the insights from yourself & others involved.

cheers, Martin

Offline MP99

Yeah, I forgot they were doing mid-IR (5-10 micron). I'm not quite convinced that's the most efficient route (because of the sunshield, they are always looking at high phase angle, so reflected sunlight is going to be far brighter than mid-IR emission), but hey, it's their money...

1) ISTM IR would have an advantage detecting objects with low albedo, in that the visible light that's absorbed is re-transmitted as IR. Especially for objects relatively close to the Sun, IE ~1AU?

2) How does the relative brightness of NEOs (IR vs visible) compare with other objects, IE do NEOs stand out against other objects better in IR than visible? If so, would that help the survey process?

cheers, Martin

Offline JohnFornaro

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The first part from another thread, reposted here for context in the B612 effort.

It creates an HLV that's too big.

My question is:  too big for what?  Without knowing the mission, how can we know the ideal size for SLS?  For all we know it might be too small.

Unfortunately, that question cannot be answered at this time.  I would say that it might be better if it weren't even asked.

First, it's clearly too big to launch a cubesat to LEO, and too small to send a manned Orion capsule  to Europa.  In the same way that there's NSoV for any given manned mission, there's also always a mission that is too big or too small for a given rocket.

Second, if the only selection criteria for any mission/LV combination is "ideal", then there is little chance that an acceptable mission profile will be designed.  From the national pool of "rocket scientists", Congress chose a subset of these individuals, who recommended the 70-11-130 LV evolutionary path for the LV.  President Obama chose a slightly different subset of these "experts", and came up with the Flexible Path as the mission profile with the most useful political characteristics for his administration.  Just like NSoV and "too big or too small" (TB/TS?), there will always be political support for a mission with some scientific return; an interesting, but marketable degree of difficulty; and an industrial constituency which could execute that chosen mission.

That's why, over the last few years, the asteroid mission has been carefully and painstakingly marketed.  SLS, in its 130 ton version is emminently suited, these experts maintain, for that mission.  Resistance is, as they say, futile.

04-15-10

BTDT

02-28-11

http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=2011-02-28#folio=022

Quote
Duane Day, the study director of
"Defending Planet Earth", ... concluded ... should a large NEO object be observed heading our way a response would be difficult to coordinate as, "there would likely be a tendency for the entire social structure to collapse".

Rusty Schweickart does not agree with this assessment.

Quote
"The actuarial argument is important," [Clark] Chapman now told [Brian] Wilcox.  But, unlike with Hurricaine Katrina, we can do something about an asteroid."

Rusty Schweickart does agree with this assessment. Chapman's statement is a false assertion.

Because the political constituency has already been forged, these "scientists" are free to propose "facts", which do not adhere to the principles of testability, falsifiability, and tentativeness.

Quote
Schweickart's bold vision had carried the day, and the recommendations included ... spending as much as three billion dollars over ten years to, among other things, place an infared telescope into a Venus-like orbit, and test both kinetic impacotrs and gravity tractors.

The amount of federal dollars proposed at that time for this effort is reasonable, by my take, since research on the topic has merit.

Quote
NASA has already indicated that it doesn't have the [$650 M] needed to fund the telescope.

Today's bid is $500M.  But now I sound like I'm having a bolide about this.

B612 has done a dynamite job of putting their brand in the media. 

06-28-12

http://b612foundation.org/media/in-the-news/

06-28-12

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/06/120628-first-private-asteroid-mission-sentinel-b612-nasa-space-science/

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/june/sentinel-space-telescope-062812.html

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-06/first-privately-funded-deep-space-mission-will-chart-all-asteroids-inner-solar-system

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/crowd-funded-space-telescope-to-spy-dangerous-space-rocks/2012/06/28/gJQAbA3t8V_story.html

Quote from: one of the WaPo comments
Hate to disappoint you but there is already a major consortium undertaking this very project which Ed Lu ought to know about. It's called NEOShield and is auspiced by the European Space Agency (ESA). One of the major participants is EADS Astrium, the largest aerospace company under the ESA umbrella.
From its website:
 http://www.neoshield.net/en/index.htm

http://spaceref.com/asteroids/b612-foundation-announces-first-privately-funded-deep-space-mission.html

06-29-12

http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/29/telescope-aims-to-head-off-asteriods-impact-on-earth/

http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/06/first-private-deep-space-mission-will-search-for-earth-destroying-asteroids/

Quote
The B612 Foundation unofficially began in 2001. Astrophysicist Piet Hut and former astronaut Ed Lu held a 2001 workshop on Near-Earth Asteroids in Houston.

Quite the long term plan, and very admirable from that standpoint.

07-07-12

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20121222/SPACE/312220018/Private-venture-wants-keep-its-wary-eye-out-asteroids?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1

12-22-12

http://www.economist.com/node/21558244

08-27-10

http://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceupbin/2010/08/27/elon-musk-jeff-bezos-licked-by-james-lick-in-space-race/

MacDonald’s paper is here. His thesis also validates the Obama administration’s agenda to encourage private space enterprise...[/quote]

My thinking is as follows: 

B612 has been in the planning stages for many years, which nobody should have a problem with.  They have reduced their pricetag from $650M to $500M, which is in contrast with most mission pricing history.  From reading their pressers, this price may include the LV costs, launch costs, and operating costs over five and a half years, with the F9 as their stated LV at present.  Nobody on this forum has suggested an alternate pricetag for their described mission.  Arguments from authority have been made that their pricetag is too low, and this opinion is probably accepted by most of the posters here.

It would not be surprising to find out that they are also lobbying Congress for financial support for these three line items, using the SLS LV instead.  This "synergy" would be in keeping with the President's stated intentions along the lines of "public/private partnerships". 

Who would make the case that this group of individuals is not well connected politically?  Who would make the case that they would not seek federal support for their foundation?  "Not surprising" doesn't mean any more than what it says. 

Neither is it surprising to conclude that SLS is being optimized for an asteroid mission, not a lunar mission.  The President has dictated this asteroid mission, using the biggest rocket that Congress and the President approved.

This is where the HSF community is at the end of 2012.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Proponent

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From the above-cited article:

"To open Earth’s eyes, the B612 Foundation has partnered with Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace to design and build a roughly $500 million infrared space telescope able to spot hundreds of thousands of asteroids.

The proposed spacecraft, which has passed a preliminary technical review, is the size of a FedEx van . The foundation hopes to launch it on a SpaceX rocket by 2018, possibly from Cape Canaveral."


To my knowledge, this is the first time I've seen an article actually quote a price for their space telescope. I noted earlier that JPL's NEOCam proposal was for the Discovery program, which is in the $450 million range. That is for an Earth orbiting satellite. I think that B612's estimate of "roughly $500 million" is probably low. Sending the spacecraft to a near-Venus orbit and cryo-cooling it increases the cost. And I know from the NEO study we did a few years ago that Ball Aerospace's cost for a similar mission was in the $600 million cost range.

Perhaps I'm reading the article too literally, but it says that the "roughly $500 million" is for the telescope; launch and other mission costs are not mentioned.

Regarding the $600 million-ish estimate from Ball for the past NEO study, did did that include the launch?  If so, I'd guess we're talking about an Atlas V?  If B612 uses a Falcon, that might knock a couple of hundred million off.

Offline Proponent

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Yeah, I forgot they were doing mid-IR (5-10 micron). I'm not quite convinced that's the most efficient route (because of the sunshield, they are always looking at high phase angle, so reflected sunlight is going to be far brighter than mid-IR emission), but hey, it's their money...

What are typical asteroid albedos in the visible range?

Wouldn't asteroids tend to be brighter at wavelengths somewhat longer than 10 microns?  (Just guessing most are at about 200 K).  If so, is this outweighed by noise considerations (principally keeping the hardware cool enough)?

Offline Comga

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2-You might want to look at their proposal more closely. From what I remember there are two aspects to it that are new.

The first is the survey detector itself. Nothing like that has been flown before. Now it's not totally unprecedented (WISE and Kepler had survey telescopes), but it is not a clone of a previous instrument.

Second, it has a cryo-cooler technology that has not been flown before. Now I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure that they're not talking about taking off-the-shelf components here. They're going to have to develop this stuff.

It is a bold statement to say that "nothing like that (the Focal Plane Assembly" has ever been flown before".  Ball has built lots of multi-array focal planes, including OLI (now scheduled to be launched in February) with 14 hybridized HgCdTe detector arrays.  Kepler was a much larger focal plane, and it had to reside in the center of the telescope, which is harder than the Sentinel arrangement.  You are right that it "is not a clone" but Ball has done many successful one-of-a-kind Focal Plane assemblies.

The cryo-cooler technology has been in development for decades and may have flown already.  This is not something totally new.  Whether it would meet NASA's "TRL-9" for a five year mission I could not say. 
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

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