Author Topic: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan  (Read 4854 times)

Offline AncientU

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NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« on: 10/18/2016 12:57 PM »
Not sure if this is a new plan or discussed elsewhere.
Many merits...

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To architect Mars mission scenarios with a limited launch cadence and still target a first human landing in the late 2030s, the design community is motivated to maximize the useful payload mass delivered to Mars to support each human mission. The rocket equation shows that staging is a great way to maximize payload for a given launch system capacity. The end result is that the transportation architecture is largely performance driven, relying on expendable, multistage systems, including the Mars lander and the two-stage Mars ascent vehicle. This results in a “boots-on-Mars” or “flags-and-footprints” as the best case mission scenario—a Mars super-sortie, defined as a mission measured in months-to-years, employing only those systems and provisions required to support a single crew. Subsequent missions would attempt to leverage assets or infrastructure from previous missions to eventually evolve to a permanent base, but in general each human mission to Mars surface will cost about the same. For the initial human landing, such a minimalist mission plan is unsafe. Over a campaign, this is unaffordable. Over multiple administrations, this is unsustainable.

Quote
The present strategy promotes a developmental approach that minimizes technology investment, maximizes the degree of expendability in the system design, increases risk to the crew, and requires that we bring nearly everything we need from Earth for each mission. This may get humans to Mars surface by the late 2030s, but this program is not affordable or sustainable, nor does it establish the human race as a multi-planet species.

There’s a better path forward. An alternative strategy is proposed with the goal of affordably establishing a permanent and self-sustaining settlement on Mars in the next half-century, as a prelude to colonization, with NASA playing a major role. This strategy, referred to here as “Base-First,” briefly postpones early human landings on Mars until key technologies and systems are demonstrated and matured, and a significant amount of infrastructure is established on Mars to safely support humans. In addition, it could leverage emerging commercial capabilities along the way to improve the affordability of the campaign and potentially reduce the timeline for getting humans to Mars thought increased launch cadence and overall capacity.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3085/1
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Offline Lar

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #1 on: 10/18/2016 01:16 PM »
Base first seems more doable, and ends up with an enduring presence. 1960s tech was not up to teleoperated/robotic base construction but things are different now, we would hope.

Refreshing to see this study pointing that out, as well as at least acknowledging that commercial capabilities may increase the scope of what's achievable... but it would seem that while they acknowledge the role of staging, they miss the leverage that refueling via tanker launches can provide.

"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #2 on: 10/18/2016 01:22 PM »
Base first seems more doable, and ends up with an enduring presence. 1960s tech was not up to teleoperated/robotic base construction but things are different now, we would hope.

Refreshing to see this study pointing that out, as well as at least acknowledging that commercial capabilities may increase the scope of what's achievable... but it would seem that while they acknowledge the role of staging, they miss the leverage that refueling via tanker launches can provide.

Yes, refueling seems to be a huge blind spot in NASA planning in general.
Is there some type of 'mandate' that the topic never be mentioned?

First infrastructure to be built would be in LEO, a depot, with a price per tonne of delivered product.   This would immediately engage the private sector. 

Base-first should be oriented to expeditionary purposes, not settlement/colonization.

High mobility, exploration and resource characterization, and supply caching could enable scouting parties to evaluate a hundred (or several hundred) kilometer radius from the expeditionary base, searching for best locations to start a settlement.  Also, having three instead of one expeditionary base makes sense, too.
« Last Edit: 10/18/2016 01:43 PM by AncientU »
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #3 on: 10/18/2016 01:44 PM »
A depot that sells propellant does not have to be owed and operated by NASA.

Offline Oli

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #4 on: 10/18/2016 02:02 PM »
I've seen it before, here:

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160006324.pdf

The difference to NASA's EMC: It relies fully on chemical propulsion for Mars transfer (also for capture), and uses a reusable lander.

I suppose a reusable lander makes sense in the long term, I'm not really sold on using chemical propulsion even for cargo and return stages.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #5 on: 10/18/2016 02:04 PM »
The centerpiece of this plan is the Hercules reusable lander. Exact detail of Earth-side launch are less central to the point of this architecture.
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Offline Pipcard

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #6 on: 10/18/2016 02:12 PM »
Base first seems more doable, and ends up with an enduring presence. 1960s tech was not up to teleoperated/robotic base construction but things are different now, we would hope.

Refreshing to see this study pointing that out, as well as at least acknowledging that commercial capabilities may increase the scope of what's achievable... but it would seem that while they acknowledge the role of staging, they miss the leverage that refueling via tanker launches can provide.

Yes, refueling seems to be a huge blind spot in NASA planning in general.
Is there some type of 'mandate' that the topic never be mentioned?

Is it because the type of refueling that was to be considered for deep space missions was deep cryogenic hydrolox transfer, and that was considered to be too much of a technical challenge/ expensive development?

Or maybe refueling in general was just viewed as "increasing operational complexity."
« Last Edit: 10/18/2016 02:17 PM by Pipcard »

Offline Lar

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #7 on: 10/18/2016 02:25 PM »
Yes, refueling seems to be a huge blind spot in NASA planning in general.
Is there some type of 'mandate' that the topic never be mentioned?

Is it because the type of refueling that was to be considered for deep space missions was deep cryogenic hydrolox transfer, and that was considered to be too much of a technical challenge/ expensive development?

Or maybe refueling in general was just viewed as "increasing operational complexity."

Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler. Refueling is such a HUGE lever that although it adds some complexity, it reduces complexity elsewhere by far more. (IMHO, IANARS)

But ya, methalox does make things simpler than hydrolox. And if you have SLS centric viewfinders engaged, (as arguably NASA needs to, at least in part) all you see is the need for hydrolox depots, which are harder.
« Last Edit: 10/18/2016 02:27 PM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #8 on: 10/19/2016 01:23 AM »
Base first seems more doable, and ends up with an enduring presence. 1960s tech was not up to teleoperated/robotic base construction but things are different now, we would hope.

Refreshing to see this study pointing that out, as well as at least acknowledging that commercial capabilities may increase the scope of what's achievable... but it would seem that while they acknowledge the role of staging, they miss the leverage that refueling via tanker launches can provide.
They mention refueling via tanker launches on the Mars side.

A lot of the people involved do indeed support depots and commercial launch, but they get a lot of pushback from headquarters if they don't rely on SLS.

Refueling on the Earth-side is a natural outgrowth of this architecture and would happen if it actually is built. But (internal) politics (not R vs D) is why they can't use it really on the Earth-side.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Lumina

Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #9 on: 10/19/2016 02:01 AM »
If we get to the 2030's and SLS still exists, it looks like the compromise is going to be 2 SLS launches per year plus many more launches from the private sector. Everybody will be happy.

Great study from Langley.

Online guckyfan

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #10 on: 10/19/2016 06:40 AM »
Yes, refueling seems to be a huge blind spot in NASA planning in general.
Is there some type of 'mandate' that the topic never be mentioned?

I don't know about NASA. But someone reported here on the forum that even mentioning refuelling at ULA would get you fired. Even now that they are planning to refuel ACES they don't call it refuelling. They use the term distributed architecture instead I believe.

Offline Oli

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #11 on: 10/19/2016 09:19 AM »

The "problem" is of course that NASA's goal is to maximize the science return from its manned missions, not to establish a human presence. Hence expendable landers to different locations with minimal surface infrastructure.

Yes, refueling seems to be a huge blind spot in NASA planning in general.
Is there some type of 'mandate' that the topic never be mentioned?

Refueling is part of the EMC's hybrid architecture. Only xenon and hypergolics though.

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #12 on: 10/19/2016 11:48 AM »

The "problem" is of course that NASA's goal is to maximize the science return from its manned missions, not to establish a human presence. Hence expendable landers to different locations with minimal surface infrastructure.

Yes, refueling seems to be a huge blind spot in NASA planning in general.
Is there some type of 'mandate' that the topic never be mentioned?

Refueling is part of the EMC's hybrid architecture. Only xenon and hypergolics though.

Not sure I believe there is evidence that NASA's Mars goal (singular) is science.

For sake of discussion, let's assume that NASA is going to Mars for science alone... what architecture would that dictate? 

Here are a few features that I'd look for:
1. Highly mobile (landers would be reusable and carry limited provisions, including long range manned rovers -- two week stays for three crew max)
2. Lots of landings, each short duration -- Lewis and Clark mode -- lots of morphological variety studied.
3. Minimal crew per landing/lander (2-3 max); several landers.
4. Extensive laboratory facilities/scientific staff on orbit for samples brought up (orbital station size of a BA-2100 or two, with crew of 5-10)
5. Bulk provisions and propellant maintained on orbit
6. Synodic crew rotations from Earth, along with bulk sample returns on the Earth-bound legs

'Settlement', 'pioneering', 'going to stay' are inversely related to science return.  However, if you do a science phase of a decade duration with something like this approach, knowledge of resources available and optimum places to settle will be a useful byproduct.

Lots of pieces of the Langley study could apply to this science-first approach, though that is not their intent.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2016 11:50 AM by AncientU »
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Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #13 on: 10/19/2016 12:57 PM »
Yes, refueling seems to be a huge blind spot in NASA planning in general.
Is there some type of 'mandate' that the topic never be mentioned?

I don't know about NASA. But someone reported here on the forum that even mentioning refueling at ULA would get you fired. Even now that they are planning to refuel ACES they don't call it refueling. They use the term distributed architecture instead I believe.
'
I recall that as a Boeing dictum... makes sense as the 'Boeing rocket'  -- which, purportedly, will be the first to land a human on Mars -- has zero provision for refueling.  Even the EUS which is still on the drawing board, apparently cannot be refueled.  (Depots may undermine the argument for the 'Boeing rocket', though I think it actually would become an enabler of a realistic Mars architecture based on only two launches per year.)
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline GWH

Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #14 on: 10/19/2016 01:11 PM »
The centerpiece of this plan is the Hercules reusable lander. Exact detail of Earth-side launch are less central to the point of this architecture.

That lander seems like it would be a perfect fit for a reusable Raptor based Falcon Heavy or New Glenn upper stage derived vehicle.
Combine with orbital docking for a distributed launch scenario  (perhaps with a docked, maybe refuelled second stage not going to escape velocity as Zubrin mentioned) and wow...
Of course the lander could be flown on an SLS stack given new ground infrastructure, which would be a safe way to hedge ones bets.  Transit habs and efforts put in to DSH program would tie in well.

Get an RFP issued to SpaceX & Bllue Origin on this concept and NASA can have multiple options to have their Mars lander that could in theory launch on SLS stack OR at least two of the proposed commercial reusable rocket systems.  Future proofing the journey to Mars. 

I like how much this system as described is what many people were envisioning for the ITS before it was unveiled with the upperstage & capsule stack, capsule containing LAS and landing thrusters.

*Apologies for the over enthusiasm, but I really love this concept.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2016 01:30 PM by GWH »

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #15 on: 10/19/2016 01:49 PM »
The 6.5m diameter of Hercules would be perfect on New Glenn or Vulcan, but would be overly-wide for FH.
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Offline GWH

Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #16 on: 10/19/2016 02:08 PM »
Yes SpaceX would probably top out at 5.5m with a new stage... but so what? They could submit proposal and pros and cons of systems weighed the same as CRS. Or expand the program to allow for 2 competitors for full development , again see CRS and CC.  Both could end up with fully reusable system so cost sharing ia mutually beneficial agreement with NASA is possible. I'm sure Masten would love to throw their hat in the ring as well.


As an aside costs of the whole system could go way down by not building a dedicated man rated  crew landing capsule and instead just using an independent Dragon reentry  and landing vehicle.  New trunk (if required for launch abort from Mars) and hypergol refuel kit goes as cargo in hercules lander. Handwavey? Yes but not impossible.

Is there a way to download the complete document or does it need to be purchased?
« Last Edit: 10/19/2016 04:14 PM by GWH »

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #17 on: 10/19/2016 05:17 PM »
Yes SpaceX would probably top out at 5.5m with a new stage... but so what? They could submit proposal and pros and cons of systems weighed the same as CRS. Or expand the program to allow for 2 competitors for full development , again see CRS and CC.  Both could end up with fully reusable system so cost sharing ia mutually beneficial agreement with NASA is possible. I'm sure Masten would love to throw their hat in the ring as well.


As an aside costs of the whole system could go way down by not building a dedicated man rated  crew landing capsule and instead just using an independent Dragon reentry  and landing vehicle.  New trunk (if required for launch abort from Mars) and hypergol refuel kit goes as cargo in hercules lander. Handwavey? Yes but not impossible.

Is there a way to download the complete document or does it need to be purchased?

Oli provided the study article above at this link:
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160006324.pdf
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline GWH

Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #18 on: 10/19/2016 05:37 PM »
Oli provided the study article above at this link:
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160006324.pdf

Ah I thought that was old - confused as to why the SpaceReview article depict and describes a biconic craft while the study describes entirely a lander with a deploy-able heat shield?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #19 on: 10/19/2016 08:18 PM »
The 6.5m diameter of Hercules would be perfect on New Glenn or Vulcan, but would be overly-wide for FH.
Why do you say that? Atlas V can fit a 7.1 m fairing.

Heck, if you fueled up Hercules, it may be able to reach orbit just on top of a Falcon 9 booster.
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Offline Lar

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #20 on: 10/19/2016 08:56 PM »
Oli provided the study article above at this link:
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160006324.pdf

Ah I thought that was old - confused as to why the SpaceReview article depict and describes a biconic craft while the study describes entirely a lander with a deploy-able heat shield?

wondering the same thing, maybe the SpaceReview folks took additional artistic license?
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline AncientU

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #21 on: 10/19/2016 10:51 PM »
Oli provided the study article above at this link:
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160006324.pdf

Ah I thought that was old - confused as to why the SpaceReview article depict and describes a biconic craft while the study describes entirely a lander with a deploy-able heat shield?

wondering the same thing, maybe the SpaceReview folks took additional artistic license?

Maybe the concept has been updated and refloated... everybody and their brother seems to have a Mars plan these days.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #22 on: 10/20/2016 02:21 AM »
The Langley study with deployable heatshield is older. Newer work by Langley is represented in that article.
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Offline Lar

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Re: NASA Langley Research Center Mars Plan
« Reply #23 on: 10/20/2016 04:25 AM »
The Langley study with deployable heatshield is older. Newer work by Langley is represented in that article.

Cool. Do you perchance have a link to the newer Langley work? (not to a popularization of it but to the actual work)
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

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