Poll

Should NASA ditch asteroids and Mars to help lead the strong international interest for Lunar missions?

Stay with the current Mars plan
18 (17.5%)
Go to Mars but on a new plan
17 (16.5%)
Go to the Moon solo
21 (20.4%)
Join in an international Moon quest
47 (45.6%)

Total Members Voted: 103

Voting closed: 02/12/2016 08:01 PM


Author Topic: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?  (Read 49678 times)

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #40 on: 11/06/2015 07:37 PM »
The USA does not need another refocus of what to do in space. Every time there is a refocus the POR get's brushed aside and a new one is put in place.

Of all the many dozens of HSF plans put into motion in the past 40 decades less than a handfull actually became reality: STS and the space station. All other lofty goals, including many Moon plans and many Mars plans came to nothing.
That is definitely a good observation, but there is a pattern to it.  The more a program cost the more likely it is to get canceled.  The longer a program takes the more likely it is to get canceled.  The more people are unclear about the benefits the more likely it is to get cancelled.  There few projects that would cost more and take longer than a manned Mars program.  At the same time I do not believe it is clear what the benefits will be. 

Honestly I definitely want to see a manned Mars mission happen, but I highly doubt that it will survive given it is a multi-decade that will cost many 10s of billions if not hundreds of billions of dollars.  Going back to the moon will be expensive and take time, but not nearly as much as going to Mars.  I also believe that going back to the Moon will significantly lower costs and risks for eventually to going to Mars.

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #41 on: 11/06/2015 08:04 PM »
Rovers built for Martian gravity should work on the Moon. They will have to be designed to lose heat by radiation. I suspect that the radiators will work on Mars.

For gravity loads, sure, but otherwise, no, it probably wouldn't work. The heat loads / temperature extremes are much too different, there's much less of a day/night swing on Mars, the Martian atmosphere is useful both as insulation for the night time and can help with taking away heat during the day, whereas in a vacuum, as on the Moon, only radiating away the heat is possible. You want to reject as much of it during the lunar day and keep as much of it during the lunar night. A rover built for Mars would overheat during the day and freeze at night on the Moon. A rover built for the Moon might work on Mars, though. Mars is much milder and is less harsh of an environment than the Moon.

The temperatures do are not that different.  The Moon's temperature ranges between 70 and 390 degrees K.  Mars temperature ranges between 130 and 308.  In both environments there is little to no atmosphere, so there is little loss of heat to convection. 

The gravity is different, but not in a way that I believe would radically alter the design of the rover. 

I definitely believe that NASA can use a common rover design with variants for Mars and the Moon. 

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #42 on: 11/06/2015 09:03 PM »
I think NASA or even SpaceX should at least send some ISRU equipment to the moon to test how hard it would be to manufacture lox, or obtain other materials.  This equipment could also be used on Mars.  The only other reason is to explore the polar regions and craters for water.  Otherwise, no real reason. 

If Lox could be made and thrown into orbit via electromagnetic rail. Capture and take to a fuel depot at one of the LaGrange points, then it would be worth the effort.  With a refueling depot in LEO and one at an L point, a robust Mars transportation infrastructure could be build.  It would be great if all spacefaring nations could work together on this.

Both Nasa and SpaceX want to use Methane based fuels on Mars. Granted, the same processes used for mining LOX are transferrable to the needs of a Mars colony, but these are extremely different regoliths in different gravity wells.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #43 on: 11/06/2015 09:41 PM »
I definitely believe that NASA can use a common rover design with variants for Mars and the Moon. 
The idea that you can re-use spacecraft in vastly different locations is almost always a bad one. Lunar 2-week day/night cycles require different thermal and electronics storage design, lunar 2-second signal lag opens up vastly more powerful options for teleoperations. Landing and hence egress methods are different, too. And a myriad of other things. Its just a bad idea.
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #44 on: 11/06/2015 09:46 PM »
The USA does not need another refocus of what to do in space. Every time there is a refocus the POR get's brushed aside and a new one is put in place.

Of all the many dozens of HSF plans put into motion in the past 40 decades less than a handfull actually became reality: STS and the space station. All other lofty goals, including many Moon plans and many Mars plans came to nothing.
That is definitely a good observation, but there is a pattern to it.  The more a program cost the more likely it is to get canceled.  The longer a program takes the more likely it is to get canceled.  The more people are unclear about the benefits the more likely it is to get cancelled.  There few projects that would cost more and take longer than a manned Mars program.  At the same time I do not believe it is clear what the benefits will be. 

Honestly I definitely want to see a manned Mars mission happen, but I highly doubt that it will survive given it is a multi-decade that will cost many 10s of billions if not hundreds of billions of dollars.  Going back to the moon will be expensive and take time, but not nearly as much as going to Mars.  I also believe that going back to the Moon will significantly lower costs and risks for eventually to going to Mars.
Another factor is political inertia. It was difficult to cancel the shuttle and move funding to actually utilising the ISS. I think in a sense the SLS is just the external symptom of the fact we still have not really cancelled the shuttle.

Im hoping that the ISS will gain similar inertia. Arguments that the physical space station is aging will not matter a jot as seen by the shuttle-derived zombie. If they get the inertia they will get the funding. Unlike the shuttle they will easily be able to invent some reasonable goal to justify that funding, because this lobby will consist of commercial launchers, people who build the modules, people with research grants. If we knocked the ISS from the sky today it would take these guys about five minutes to put some sensible proposal together.

The other big difference is that the ISS lobby requires actual achievements in space, unlike the shuttle-derived lobby which can happily accept billions year after year building a rocket giving only lip service to a future payload. The ISS uses existing launchers so the public would notice very quickly if they were launching with nothing on top of them. The microgravity researchers can't look very professional if their research is not getting into space.

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #45 on: 11/06/2015 10:08 PM »
I think NASA or even SpaceX should at least send some ISRU equipment to the moon to test how hard it would be to manufacture lox, or obtain other materials.  This equipment could also be used on Mars.  The only other reason is to explore the polar regions and craters for water.  Otherwise, no real reason. 

If Lox could be made and thrown into orbit via electromagnetic rail. Capture and take to a fuel depot at one of the LaGrange points, then it would be worth the effort.  With a refueling depot in LEO and one at an L point, a robust Mars transportation infrastructure could be build.  It would be great if all spacefaring nations could work together on this.

Both Nasa and SpaceX want to use Methane based fuels on Mars. Granted, the same processes used for mining LOX are transferrable to the needs of a Mars colony, but these are extremely different regoliths in different gravity wells.
Im not sure why articles always focus purely on the evidence of water at the poles. The belief is more carbon monoxide in the volatiles than h20. You could produce a lot more methane than hydrogen.
http://www.universetoday.com/76329/water-on-the-moon-and-much-much-more-latest-lcross-results/

Online RonM

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #46 on: 11/06/2015 11:33 PM »
Rather de-orbit ISS, we should move ISS to higher orbit, and this higher orbit could on the path to the Moon or Mars [or anywhere]. So ISS could be some sort of base in high earth orbit.
There have been threads discussing this and apparently it is not feasible. I don't understand the details but I accept the authority of the opinions.

The biggest issue limiting the lifetime of ISS is the structure. Docking, berthing, and thermal cycles introduce micro fractures. Eventually, the structure becomes unsafe. That's why 2024 or 2028 are considered to be end of life for ISS.
I doubt it.
Though if you included micrometeorite impact damage, that could be more convincing.
If ISS is crashed into our atmosphere in 2028, then ISS would be about as old as the Shuttle.
It seems unlikely that ISS has had an equal or greater amount of structural damage per year as the Shuttle orbiters.
Quote
Newer ISS modules could be used to as the basis for a new space station. The Russians were thinking about saving their newer modules. However, I don't think anyone has the money for that.
The Soviets always cause trouble.
A saner person flees from it, and there is lots doing so- one might hope they continue have somewhere to flee to. And one could imagine it doesn't look good.
The economic contrast between NASA and Russian Space agency is interesting.  In overly simplistic terms,
imagine what the Russian Space agency could do if it had NASA's budget?
Of course it does not remotely work that way, obviously Russian corruption makes American government corruption seem insignificant/civilized, though in terms of quantity money, the Russians are taking rubles vs dollars.

Comparing ISS to the Shuttle is the proverbial comparing apples to oranges. I suggest you search threads about retiring ISS to see why it can't keep flying. It's engineering, not opinion.

Even if ISS could last indefinitely, keeping it operational would cost billions of dollars per year. NASA needs that money post-ISS to fund exploration. After ISS, renting time on commercial stations is the current NASA concept.

Don't forget the upcoming Chinese space station. At least Russia and ESA are talking to China about it. That's probably the group heading to the Moon with or without NASA.

BTW, the Soviet Union went out of business in 1991.

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #47 on: 11/07/2015 02:48 AM »
Rather de-orbit ISS, we should move ISS to higher orbit, and this higher orbit could on the path to the Moon or Mars [or anywhere]. So ISS could be some sort of base in high earth orbit.
There have been threads discussing this and apparently it is not feasible. I don't understand the details but I accept the authority of the opinions.

The biggest issue limiting the lifetime of ISS is the structure. Docking, berthing, and thermal cycles introduce micro fractures. Eventually, the structure becomes unsafe. That's why 2024 or 2028 are considered to be end of life for ISS.
I doubt it.
Though if you included micrometeorite impact damage, that could be more convincing.
If ISS is crashed into our atmosphere in 2028, then ISS would be about as old as the Shuttle.
It seems unlikely that ISS has had an equal or greater amount of structural damage per year as the Shuttle orbiters.
Quote
Newer ISS modules could be used to as the basis for a new space station. The Russians were thinking about saving their newer modules. However, I don't think anyone has the money for that.
The Soviets always cause trouble.
A saner person flees from it, and there is lots doing so- one might hope they continue have somewhere to flee to. And one could imagine it doesn't look good.
The economic contrast between NASA and Russian Space agency is interesting.  In overly simplistic terms,
imagine what the Russian Space agency could do if it had NASA's budget?
Of course it does not remotely work that way, obviously Russian corruption makes American government corruption seem insignificant/civilized, though in terms of quantity money, the Russians are taking rubles vs dollars.

Comparing ISS to the Shuttle is the proverbial comparing apples to oranges. I suggest you search threads about retiring ISS to see why it can't keep flying. It's engineering, not opinion.

Even if ISS could last indefinitely, keeping it operational would cost billions of dollars per year. NASA needs that money post-ISS to fund exploration. After ISS, renting time on commercial stations is the current NASA concept.

Don't forget the upcoming Chinese space station. At least Russia and ESA are talking to China about it. That's probably the group heading to the Moon with or without NASA.

BTW, the Soviet Union went out of business in 1991.
Btw: "Soviets : the people and especially the political and military leaders of the former U.S.S.R."

Well since purpose of putting in higher orbit would be to lower yearly operational costs. If "Even if ISS could last indefinitely, keeping it operational would cost billions of dollars per year. "
Then one would doing it wrong. Because even keeping in LEO, it's possible to lower the yearly operational costs. Or the other solution would be to hand over ISS operations to a private interest which did not charge billions of dollar to keep ISS flying.
So if "After ISS, renting time on commercial stations is the current NASA concept." Was true, then a commercial interest taking over ISS would be cheaper than building a launching a new station. And considering NASA could spend about 1 billion dollar on a program to de-orbiting ISS,  one starting with 1 billion dollar ahead of the game.
It's true that ISS is not in a good location, but there could be some commercial value associated to flying at 51 inclination- or it's negative but could have some positives. But it would depend on what commercial activity was involved.



Online RonM

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #48 on: 11/07/2015 03:44 AM »
So if "After ISS, renting time on commercial stations is the current NASA concept." Was true, then a commercial interest taking over ISS would be cheaper than building a launching a new station. And considering NASA could spend about 1 billion dollar on a program to de-orbiting ISS,  one starting with 1 billion dollar ahead of the game.
It's true that ISS is not in a good location, but there could be some commercial value associated to flying at 51 inclination- or it's negative but could have some positives. But it would depend on what commercial activity was involved.

Perhaps a commercial interest could figure out what to do with ISS and keep it flying. Reconfigure, salvage or deorbit what's no longer needed, add a Bigelow module, etc.

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #49 on: 11/07/2015 03:52 AM »
So if "After ISS, renting time on commercial stations is the current NASA concept." Was true, then a commercial interest taking over ISS would be cheaper than building a launching a new station. And considering NASA could spend about 1 billion dollar on a program to de-orbiting ISS,  one starting with 1 billion dollar ahead of the game.
It's true that ISS is not in a good location, but there could be some commercial value associated to flying at 51 inclination- or it's negative but could have some positives. But it would depend on what commercial activity was involved.

Perhaps a commercial interest could figure out what to do with ISS and keep it flying. Reconfigure, salvage or deorbit what's no longer needed, add a Bigelow module, etc.

Or perhaps a group of nations could take over operation of ISS.
But, it seems there could be many options other crashing it into the atmosphere and I think it is very important for NASA work out a plan in which, NASA at some point can stop paying billions per year and still have ISS remain in space.

Edit: Or NASA policy should be that de-orbiting ISS is not an option to take.
Also I will add that NASA can begin a lunar exploration before ending ISS, but it seems unlikely NASA could start Mars exploration without first resolving a way not to have ISS eating up it's budget.
Running SLS program and ISS and doing a lunar exploration program at the same time would be difficult, but doing a Mars program with SLS and ISS is not doable.
lunar program could start with LEO depot, followed with robotic exploration and ending within 10 years and the last couple years, having manned lunar exploration and then switch to Mars program.
And at point in time of last couple years and doing manned lunar, one would have to have ISS program resolved and it's not resolved by de-orbiting the station.
Or if started Lunar program in say 2016, then need ISS issue resolved by 2024.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2015 04:25 AM by gbaikie »

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #50 on: 11/07/2015 04:02 AM »
I donít think the moon will be a thought for the next administration at all.  They will have nothing capable of going to it at the time when they would be willing to plan it.  SLSís planned test launch should nothing happen is 2018 and it isnít planned to carry crew till 2021(and probably 2023). The first manned flight is pretty much already out of his term. In order to land on the moon you would need to convince this administration to fund or find a partner for a lander not likely.

A station or other item in cis lunar space is more likely, but still needs lots of funding (development of station hardware, upgrades or development of cargo craft). Again not likely as ESA is tapped out developing Orionís SM and Russian relations are growing hostile not to mention inability of said partner to be able to get to the cis lunar station without the US.

Here is what I think is most likely. An exchange mission to the ISS and the Chinese space station.  It could involve docking spacecraft at each or it could just involve plane tickets but it would be cheap, quick, and could net some good publicity. I think LEO will be the focus of the next administration either on purpose because the new commercial crew craft may be something useful to latch on to or by default(why risk getting bashed in the press over wasteful spending by increasing NASAís budget ahead of dozens of other agencies. I think the ISS will be extended till 2028 which is a date outside of his term and thus no need to propose anything.

Mars is too expensive, long and complex to even get an start.

I also think that an more realistic plan going forward is that NASA would be an tenant at an Commercial station either post ISS or before the ISS is decommissioned. Before decommissioning it could be say an man tended laboratory. Post ISS a full station. I think commercial capabilities will need to develop just an bit more(re usability, increased payload to lunar) before an Government mission is cheap enough to be doable.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2015 04:14 AM by pathfinder_01 »

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #51 on: 11/07/2015 04:33 AM »
I donít think the moon will be a thought for the next administration at all.  They will have nothing capable of going to it at the time when they would be willing to plan it.  SLSís planned test launch should nothing happen is 2018 and it isnít planned to carry crew till 2021(and probably 2023). The first manned flight is pretty much already out of his term. In order to land on the moon you would need to convince this administration to fund or find a partner for a lander not likely.
The only new thing this administration could do is start a LEO depot program.
And LEO depot program is how I would choose to start a lunar program and having operational depots
will lower the cost of Mars program. It would also lower program cost of getting the small rock.
And I would start  a depot program which started with refueling LOX- and make refueling LOX operational
before storing other kinds of rocket fuel.
One could argue it could be started with only "storable" rocket fuel, but I think LOX might be better.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #52 on: 11/07/2015 07:58 AM »
I definitely believe that NASA can use a common rover design with variants for Mars and the Moon. 
The idea that you can re-use spacecraft in vastly different locations is almost always a bad one. Lunar 2-week day/night cycles require different thermal and electronics storage design, lunar 2-second signal lag opens up vastly more powerful options for teleoperations. Landing and hence egress methods are different, too. And a myriad of other things. Its just a bad idea.

In which case we will just have to delay the Mars mission for 10 years. NASA will not be able to afford to pay for the development of a lunar rover, a manned Mars rover and Mars ISRU equipment simultaneously.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #53 on: 11/07/2015 01:52 PM »
I definitely believe that NASA can use a common rover design with variants for Mars and the Moon. 
The idea that you can re-use spacecraft in vastly different locations is almost always a bad one. Lunar 2-week day/night cycles require different thermal and electronics storage design, lunar 2-second signal lag opens up vastly more powerful options for teleoperations. Landing and hence egress methods are different, too. And a myriad of other things. Its just a bad idea.
It reminds me of the cost explosion in the F-35 program when they tried to make one aircraft fit multiple mission profiles.  I'm not saying it can't be done, but the potential for costs growing out of control is real.

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #54 on: 11/07/2015 04:40 PM »
I think exploring the Moon with hoppers rather than rovers could a good idea which also can be used on Mars for exploration.
The Moon's gravity is about 1/6th Earth and Mars is about 1/3, so hoppers could function better with lunar gravity and the rugged terrain of where you want to explore for water deposits, may be more suitable for the Moon, but using the Moon as testbed for hoppers could develop this method and one can expect improvements in the design and operation so that one has a better hoppers available to use with Mars exploration.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2015 04:52 PM by gbaikie »

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #55 on: 11/07/2015 08:28 PM »
I think exploring the Moon with hoppers rather than rovers could a good idea which also can be used on Mars for exploration.
The Moon's gravity is about 1/6th Earth and Mars is about 1/3, so hoppers could function better with lunar gravity and the rugged terrain of where you want to explore for water deposits, may be more suitable for the Moon, but using the Moon as testbed for hoppers could develop this method and one can expect improvements in the design and operation so that one has a better hoppers available to use with Mars exploration.

A lack of gravity is bad for things with wheels in general, especially when moving at considerable velocities.  Hoppers are faster, but also burn resources a lot faster and rocket engines wear out faster than electric motors generally. A hopper can't easily haul cargo, whilst a wheeled craft can.

Edit: You can't make a hopper excavator easily, for one.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2015 08:29 PM by The Amazing Catstronaut »
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Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #56 on: 11/07/2015 09:02 PM »
I definitely believe that NASA can use a common rover design with variants for Mars and the Moon. 
The idea that you can re-use spacecraft in vastly different locations is almost always a bad one. Lunar 2-week day/night cycles require different thermal and electronics storage design, lunar 2-second signal lag opens up vastly more powerful options for teleoperations. Landing and hence egress methods are different, too. And a myriad of other things. Its just a bad idea.

I am not saying exactly the same, but I am saying similar enough to warrant a common design and common parts.  For example, take at the differences between the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and a typical Earth Observation satellite.  When you at them they appear to be largely the same.  There are definitely differences like the fact that MRO needs to have larger solar panels in order to get the same amount of power, and the fact that it needs a more powerful antenna to communicate with Earth.  Despite these differences they are composed of many of the same components, and they share a common design. 

The problem that NASA faces with regard to building a Marian or Lunar rover is that we that we have no experience with building, operating, and maintaining anything like it.  I mean we are talking about a rover that operates in an environment where there is low gravity, relatively high radioactivity, and low pressure, and where the temperature can change by hundreds of degrees.  There is nothing remotely like that on Earth, which is why designing such a rover and getting it right is difficult.  If we go back to the Moon, and design a lunar rover the equipment we develop and the experience we gain from doing so will definitely doing the same on Mars less risky and expensive. 

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #57 on: 11/07/2015 10:05 PM »
I think exploring the Moon with hoppers rather than rovers could a good idea which also can be used on Mars for exploration.
The Moon's gravity is about 1/6th Earth and Mars is about 1/3, so hoppers could function better with lunar gravity and the rugged terrain of where you want to explore for water deposits, may be more suitable for the Moon, but using the Moon as testbed for hoppers could develop this method and one can expect improvements in the design and operation so that one has a better hoppers available to use with Mars exploration.

A lack of gravity is bad for things with wheels in general, especially when moving at considerable velocities.  Hoppers are faster, but also burn resources a lot faster and rocket engines wear out faster than electric motors generally. A hopper can't easily haul cargo, whilst a wheeled craft can.

Edit: You can't make a hopper excavator easily, for one.

Right well, don't need an  excavator which is a hopper.
I am not talking about mining or ISRU, rather I am talking about  exploration of the moon which going to find minable water deposits which generally speaking, such deposits would be within a meter of the surface. Or water deposit at and near the surface would be the most likely to be profitably mined when you consider that the volume of water needed in the first couple year is around 200 tons. Or one is looking for a site which has about 10,000 tons of water within 1 square km. Or 1 square km 1 meter deep with 10% per volume of extractable water, has 100,000 tons of minable water. And 100,000 tons is more water needed within a decade of lunar water mining operation. And if consider water is worth $500 per kg or $500,000 per ton, then,  it's 50 billion dollars of water.
But it's unlikely that 100,000 tons of water is worth $500 per kg, though 10,000 tons of water could be worth as much as $500 per kg- so, 10,000 tons of water is worth about 5 billion dollars. And rocket fuel made from that amount of lunar water mined is worth about 20 to 25 billion dollars.
After a decade of mining it's possible one might mine or all mining operations on the Moon might mine over 1000 tons of water per year. Whether one can mine 10,000 tons of water per year, probably depends upon whether there are settlements on Mars. But were there more than 1000 tons of water mined on the Moon,  this would support or make the possibility of having Mars settlements. Or if there was more 1000 tons of water mined on the Moon, then this would also enable asteroid mining, and asteroid mining might be more significant to Mars settlements than Lunar water mining. And possible that asteroid mining could be more significant than lunar mining in terms of Earth SPS and L-5 type colonies.
Any serious attempt or plan to mine the Moon, will be helpful in terms of political support for Mars exploration. Actual products from Lunar water mining, may be useful for NASA Mars exploration, though I would say it's *requirement* for Mars settlements. Or mining water somewhere in space [other than the Martian surface] is requirement for Mars settlements.

But getting back to hoppers. One idea is one deliver hoppers to the Moon with a crasher stage which gets the payload to 5 km above the surface. The second stage could be a mothership for hoppers which gets the hoppers 500 meter above the lunar surface, at which point the hoppers hop off the mothership, and the mothership lands without it's hoppers. So one hopper could land on highest ground within 10 km, serving as earth relay point. Other hoppers could land within a deep dark craters- how many hopper might go inside a crater might depend upon size of crater and other hoppers could land outside the crater, as would the mothership.
The hopper going into the crater could stay in crater for an hour or two and than hop back to the mothership. And generally speaking one think of hopper being capable of traveling 10 to 20 km away from the mothership's location.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2015 10:17 PM by gbaikie »

Offline savuporo

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #58 on: 11/07/2015 10:40 PM »
For example, take at the differences between the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and a typical Earth Observation satellite.  When you at them they appear to be largely the same.
Huh ? Care to talk about that in detail ? For instance, if you could elaborate which earth observation satellites are specifically designed for aerobraking maneuvers ?
« Last Edit: 11/07/2015 10:42 PM by savuporo »
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Offline Paul451

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Re: Should NASA refocus on returning to the Moon?
« Reply #59 on: 11/08/2015 02:17 AM »
Depends if we can drop the silly "been there done that" mentality...

It amazes me that after 5 years, people are still whining about that line. Grown adults acting like spoiled children who didn't get the candy.

VSE was proposed to develop lunar (probably polar) resources. That idea was dropped almost immediately for a near equatorial base. The latter, of course, never saw a cent of funding. So by the time it was cancelled, the program's goals had been reduced to a slight larger version of Apollo. Land, collect rocks, come home. That's it.

There are many things that we could do with the moon, however in 40 years NASA has not landed a single lander or rover on the moon, has not sample-returned a single gram of lunar regolith. Even when it looked like there were billions of tonnes of water ice (and perhaps other volatiles) at the poles, there was not a cent of funding for to land robots (except the LCROSS impactor); even when VSE talked about using lunar resources, there was zero funding for robotic precursor missions.

There's so much demand for lunar science that we're willing to divert pretty much the entire HSF budget to it, and yet, somehow, for 40 years there's no funding to do the vastly cheaper robotic missions? How does that make sense?

Isn't it more reasonable to suggest that those proposing manned lunar mission are not really interested in polar resources, or lava caves, or far side sites, or building bases, or testing technology for Mars, or any of the other justifications offered, but are instead merely interesting in building a very big rocket to send a handful of guys to the moon a handful of times just so we can say we've done it.

Something we quite literally have "been there and done".

And so any lunar program will quickly strip out all those interesting and novel targets, until all that's left is a big rocket, a handful of equatorial landing sites, and flags'n'footprints missions. Just as Constellation did. (Just as Apollo did.) Because those interesting things aren't ever the real goal.

For the record, I voted for "Go to moon solo", as the least-worst option. But I mean starting with robotic missions to the polar regions to explore volatile-ices. Then robotic fuel/air/water ISRU. Then, if there's a reason to, humans to assist the process, enabled by the availability of fuel/air/water. All as part of a stated effort to end the fixation on "destinations" and instead focus solely on enabling technologies for "capability".

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