Author Topic: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.  (Read 29778 times)

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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http://www.popsci.com/lockheed-martin-aiming-to-put-astronauts-in-mars-orbit-by-2028

So this is interesting... that's almost SpaceX-esque schedule aggression, too.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the viability of this very neat looking paper platform. It seems to use components which already exist predominantly, and would give SLS something to do.

Truly exciting if it ever goes beyond the hot air stage.
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Offline RonM

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That is an interesting concept. Note the shape of the habitat and laboratory modules. Looks like they would replace the connection between Orion and SLS. The modules with the external tanks look too wide to fit on SLS. I wonder how that would work.

Offline jgoldader

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Okay, that's pretty cool.  I doubt it'll ever happen, but it's pretty cool.
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Offline Proponent

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It's sort of a revision of the dual-Orion NEA mission that LM proposed as a "stepping stone" a few years ago.

Offline TrevorMonty

That is an interesting concept. Note the shape of the habitat and laboratory modules. Looks like they would replace the connection between Orion and SLS. The modules with the external tanks look too wide to fit on SLS. I wonder how that would work.
The tank section should fit in SLS cargo version with large fairing. Propulsion module looks like a well insulated Centuar.
I'm picking there are a few Vulcan launches to fill those tanks and maybe for delivery of propulsion modules.

With cryo cooler fuel storage is not an issue.

Offline redliox

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The tank section should fit in SLS cargo version with large fairing. Propulsion module looks like a well insulated Centuar.
I'm picking there are a few Vulcan launches to fill those tanks and maybe for delivery of propulsion modules.

With cryo cooler fuel storage is not an issue.

They also mentioned electric propulsion would be involved with transferring it from the Lunar to Martian vicinity.  Assuming SEP is built into the OML, I could only assume the refitted Centaur is meant more for departing vehicles than the OML.  Beyond that hydrogen is a surprising choice; ambitious but difficult to keep that particular fuel chilled; I would have favored methane but if that really is a Centaur-based stage perhaps they were going with its existing fuel type.

Like most other ideas it's questionable if it will leave the blueprints, but it may have some potential.  The abundance of cryogenic propellant tanks implies this lab could double as a fuel depot (which many around here seem to advocate for both Lunar and Martian activities) and I like the prospects of exploring the Martian moons, which would be possible even with the limitations of an Orion's service module.  I'm not sure what kind of science it could do related to Mars, as I suspect that may be limited by what kind of orbit it is put in which is my main query about this thing.

A low Martian orbit would obviously generate great remote science not unlike the ISS around Earth, but there's no benefit to orbital mechanics apart from making it easy to reach via MAV, and the windows for reaching it would be complicated.  A synchronous orbit could be a possibility, but it would limit remote science to a distant view of a single hemisphere.  Otherwise, I can only assume some kind of medium orbit is the choice, probably something close to Phobos'.  Again, where exactly they would put this laboratory is what I'd like to know.
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Offline ncb1397

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The tank section should fit in SLS cargo version with large fairing. Propulsion module looks like a well insulated Centuar.
I'm picking there are a few Vulcan launches to fill those tanks and maybe for delivery of propulsion modules.

With cryo cooler fuel storage is not an issue.

They also mentioned electric propulsion would be involved with transferring it from the Lunar to Martian vicinity.  Assuming SEP is built into the OML, I could only assume the refitted Centaur is meant more for departing vehicles than the OML.  Beyond that hydrogen is a surprising choice; ambitious but difficult to keep that particular fuel chilled; I would have favored methane but if that really is a Centaur-based stage perhaps they were going with its existing fuel type.

Like most other ideas it's questionable if it will leave the blueprints, but it may have some potential.  The abundance of cryogenic propellant tanks implies this lab could double as a fuel depot (which many around here seem to advocate for both Lunar and Martian activities) and I like the prospects of exploring the Martian moons, which would be possible even with the limitations of an Orion's service module.  I'm not sure what kind of science it could do related to Mars, as I suspect that may be limited by what kind of orbit it is put in which is my main query about this thing.

A low Martian orbit would obviously generate great remote science not unlike the ISS around Earth, but there's no benefit to orbital mechanics apart from making it easy to reach via MAV, and the windows for reaching it would be complicated.  A synchronous orbit could be a possibility, but it would limit remote science to a distant view of a single hemisphere.  Otherwise, I can only assume some kind of medium orbit is the choice, probably something close to Phobos'.  Again, where exactly they would put this laboratory is what I'd like to know.

Stored LH2 was done during Apollo. No point in designing a mission orbit based on remote imaging from the manned platform. As far as science, it would aid in operation of Mars 2020 and potentially other international rovers.
« Last Edit: 05/18/2016 06:01 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline AegeanBlue

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Curiosity and  most likely Mars 2020 are not driven with a joystick, operating them requires a complex series of instructions that are precoded on the ground. It would require a massive rewrite to make these particular rovers joystick driven from orbit. If we want to drive a rover from orbit, it would most likely be a simpler rover with fewer instruments that driving it does not require the consensus of a 300+ person team. Considering the type of mass margins HSF has, I see it being something in Pathfinder class sent to Mars along with the human crew and dropped to Mars around the time the humans arrive on Mars orbit. The Manned Venus Flyby from the Apollo Applications Program expected that the astronauts would drop 4 probes on Venus, Pioneer Venus style. Granted, there were no probes on Venus at the time.

What is far more likely is Phobos and Deimos crewed exploration. While keeping the astronauts tethered to those bodies is a huge challenge (think Rosetta) it does not require EDL. Also I see the whole mission staying at Mars vicinity closer to 30 days rather than 11 months, but is good to originally plan for 11 months so that when the challenges increase and finding gets tight it can get descoped and saved.

This is being written 1 1/2 hours before the live presentation, which I will miss (I am at work). Could a kind soul post a video link here so that I can see the presentation later?

Offline redliox

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Stored LH2 was done during Apollo. No point in designing a mission orbit based on remote imaging from the manned platform. As far as science, it would aid in operation of Mars 2020 and potentially other international rovers.

As far as Apollo, that stored LH2 didn't have to loiter for more than 24 hours - HUGE difference from trying to keep it chilled for months.  As far as imaging, true but that doesn't stop the ISS from doing it.  The rovers via telepresence, possibly.

If we want to drive a rover from orbit, it would most likely be a simpler rover with fewer instruments that driving it does not require the consensus of a 300+ person team. Considering the type of mass margins HSF has, I see it being something in Pathfinder class sent to Mars along with the human crew and dropped to Mars around the time the humans arrive on Mars orbit. The Manned Venus Flyby from the Apollo Applications Program expected that the astronauts would drop 4 probes on Venus, Pioneer Venus style. Granted, there were no probes on Venus at the time.

What is far more likely is Phobos and Deimos crewed exploration. While keeping the astronauts tethered to those bodies is a huge challenge (think Rosetta) it does not require EDL. Also I see the whole mission staying at Mars vicinity closer to 30 days rather than 11 months, but is good to originally plan for 11 months so that when the challenges increase and finding gets tight it can get descoped and saved.

As far as the rover idea...I would think it'd be more cost effective to reprogram a living rover (such as the '2020 or the future MSR retrieval rover) to take commands.

The moons would be a lovely highlight that could transform an orbital mission from boring to captivating.  Right regarding EDL, although they would insist on an extremely slow approach just as incoming vehicles are toward the ISS.  I would think the lab's orbital position might bias which moon gets visited first: if synchronous orbit Deimos is closer, if a medium or low orbit (anything 12 hours and less period) Phobos is closer.  That Centaur stage could be meant for moon exploration to ensure orbit transfers; the current orbital plans for Mars already require a transfer stage.
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Offline AegeanBlue

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As far as the rover idea...I would think it'd be more cost effective to reprogram a living rover (such as the '2020 or the future MSR retrieval rover) to take commands.


Mars 2020 has 8 proposed instruments, including the drone. The orbiting astronaut would have to do on his own, maybe with the help of another colleague in orbit, the whole decision cycle of selecting where to drive, which is the important rock and what instrument to use on it to analyze. Also let us not forget that there is a series of error modes built into the rover to avoid ruining it. After the 300+ scientists have decided what to do next, the engineers test it on the earth bound rover to see if it will trigger any error modes and then when validated the code is uploaded to the rover for the next day. Pathfinder had 1 instrument, APXS. The process was far simpler: select, drive, point instrument, collect data. Mars 2020 is too complex, the fetch rover might be simple enough but let's wait and see.

In the Apollo J missions the astronauts drove, saw nice rocks and collected them (and core samples too). They did not do high level chemical and physical analysis in situ, which is what the current rovers are doing. Also during the Apollo missions astronauts did release microsatellites manually in orbit. Knowing how government bureaucracy works, you do not do critical plans that are part of mission success criteria with something that there is a strong possibility it might not work at the time. Spirit did not live 8 years. Mars 2020 is only set for 2 though it will likely last longer. For bureaucratic and practical reasons it is better if the rover they teleoperate comes with them. Considering that a single Orion weights 25 tons and even Mars 2020 is a little over 1 ton (Pathfinder was 264 kg of which Sojourner was 10 kg), a new rover is not an unreasonable mass allocation

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #10 on: 05/19/2016 12:50 AM »
If we want to drive a rover from orbit, it would most likely be a simpler rover with fewer instruments that driving it does not require the consensus of a 300+ person team.

Why would we want to drive it from orbit? Considering that self-driving cars already exist, and Google and others are constantly investing in making them better, and that you'll probably be able to buy one in no more than a decade, and driving on Mars does not require avoiding pedestrians or other traffic, there's no reason why a person will really have to do much driving with a robot on Mars. The robot is going to be really smart and will drive itself, only needing human intervention rarely. So having an astronaut hanging around for that rare instant when the robot needs help makes no sense.

The telerobotics operation argument is often made, but never really thought through. It's asserted, but not really examined. People like to talk about low-latency and quick response times without really explaining or examining what the value of that is. What is really needed is a clear definition of exactly what you want a rover to do, and then an examination of how the rover will do that, and then an analysis of whether or not the human with a quick response time can make that any better. And you need to do that not only for the period when humans are in orbit and can control a rover, but look at it for the entire lifetime of the rover. Look at it this way--suppose your rover is designed with a 4-year (2 Martian years) lifetime. But the humans are only going to be there for maybe 260 days. And because of various other things they have to do, they can only interact with the rover for 160 days. Is it worth developing telerobotics capabilities for 160 days for a rover that is going to operate at least 4 years? Why bother? The science improvement would have to be really really good to make sense. And nobody has really demonstrated that.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #11 on: 05/19/2016 03:38 AM »
http://www.popsci.com/lockheed-martin-aiming-to-put-astronauts-in-mars-orbit-by-2028

So this is interesting... that's almost SpaceX-esque schedule aggression, too.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the viability of this very neat looking paper platform. It seems to use components which already exist predominantly, and would give SLS something to do.

Truly exciting if it ever goes beyond the hot air stage.

It looks interesting, but I can't get to the link.  I get an error message and a default return to the popsci.com.au web page.  Does anyone know how to get around this?  This is a problem I have with all popsci links, not just this one BTW.

Thanks
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Offline QuantumG

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #12 on: 05/19/2016 03:49 AM »
It looks interesting, but I can't get to the link.  I get an error message and a default return to the popsci.com.au web page.  Does anyone know how to get around this?  This is a problem I have with all popsci links, not just this one BTW.

Me too. I've complained to popsci over the years but they're either too stupid to understand the problem or they just don't care. Use a web anonymizer.
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #13 on: 05/19/2016 03:52 AM »
If we want to drive a rover from orbit, it would most likely be a simpler rover with fewer instruments that driving it does not require the consensus of a 300+ person team.

Why would we want to drive it from orbit? Considering that self-driving cars already exist, and Google and others are constantly investing in making them better, and that you'll probably be able to buy one in no more than a decade, and driving on Mars does not require avoiding pedestrians or other traffic, there's no reason why a person will really have to do much driving with a robot on Mars. The robot is going to be really smart and will drive itself, only needing human intervention rarely. So having an astronaut hanging around for that rare instant when the robot needs help makes no sense.

The telerobotics operation argument is often made, but never really thought through. It's asserted, but not really examined. People like to talk about low-latency and quick response times without really explaining or examining what the value of that is. What is really needed is a clear definition of exactly what you want a rover to do, and then an examination of how the rover will do that, and then an analysis of whether or not the human with a quick response time can make that any better. And you need to do that not only for the period when humans are in orbit and can control a rover, but look at it for the entire lifetime of the rover. Look at it this way--suppose your rover is designed with a 4-year (2 Martian years) lifetime. But the humans are only going to be there for maybe 260 days. And because of various other things they have to do, they can only interact with the rover for 160 days. Is it worth developing telerobotics capabilities for 160 days for a rover that is going to operate at least 4 years? Why bother? The science improvement would have to be really really good to make sense. And nobody has really demonstrated that.

I agree, the case has never been properly analysed.  I think it is reasonable to expect astronauts to be able to control a surface operations for the full 540 days in Mars orbit.  But you have set the bounds for the performance increase from direct teleoperation required,  The return from it has to be sufficiently better to justify the cost of doing it. Useful comparisons could be done on Earth to assess the viability of this. The closest I have seen to anyone attempting this sort of analysis is a paper by Brian Glass and others from several years ago.

Edit: having now been able to access the link I see they are saying 10-11 months (300-310 days) in Mars orbit.  That's short for even for a strict minimum energy conjunction class mission
« Last Edit: 05/19/2016 05:48 AM by Dalhousie »
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #14 on: 05/19/2016 03:54 AM »
It looks interesting, but I can't get to the link.  I get an error message and a default return to the popsci.com.au web page.  Does anyone know how to get around this?  This is a problem I have with all popsci links, not just this one BTW.

Me too. I've complained to popsci over the years but they're either too stupid to understand the problem or they just don't care. Use a web anonymizer.

That worked ;)
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #15 on: 05/19/2016 05:14 AM »
Suggest that the point is to get into the "destination" business for exploration, so as to support your vehicle business that allows you to travel there.

Then let someone else handle the lander business, where they use their vehicles to get them to the "destination" for jumping off.

Who knows, maybe then one is in the position to supply the surface habs as well.

Exploration class Bigelow hotels? With one way "semi's" of consumables to support them? With possibly expedited delivery as well as "slow boat" means for large volume/mass items?

Such may be the logistics of exploration.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #16 on: 05/19/2016 01:55 PM »
While I am more of an enthusiast rather than a planetary scientists, I have to agree that the rationale for a low latency robot is pretty weak. You can drive a robot forward - backward - left - right, get great pictures, zap a rock, get all the data almost instantly instead of waiting for the communication pass and then the transmission to Earth but that will work for the time you actually are in Mars orbit, not before or after. Rovers today have a habit of outliving even the longest expedition.

While the H2M speech has not been posted, there is an article with more data based on it and on the House testimony of LM staff:

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/organizations/lockheed-martin-organizations/lockheed-martin-outlines-plan-to-send-humans-to-mars-orbit-by-2028/

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #17 on: 05/19/2016 02:04 PM »
I think it is reasonable to expect astronauts to be able to control a surface operations for the full 540 days in Mars orbit.

It's not going to be "full" anything. Half the time the rover will be in darkness--no operations there. Then what about the human spacecraft being out of line of sight? Then what about crew operations requirements? Do you have a crew person up during their sleep time to control a rover during its day time? How many crew do you devote to this? If you have a 4-person crew, do you devote 100% of 1 crewmembers' time to running the rover? And if so, then that person has to sleep, so now you probably need another crewmember as backup. And can you do that? Can you devote a lot of crew time to running a rover?

So you quickly end up with the ability to only have an astronaut interact with the rover for a very limited amount of time, possibly for a very limited amount of time that the rover can actually do stuff. So the rover has all kinds of capabilities and the human isn't adding much.

Now my limited understanding of modern human-robot interactions is that the human is in the loop for a short period of time--they look at the data, figure out what to do, and then use some pull down menus to say "Do X, Y and Z" and then press "Engage." Then the robot figures out how to do all that stuff. So the human may be involved in small increments over a long period of time.... which of course goes back to the earlier question of whether reducing that lag-time in communications is worthwhile? Are you gaining anything? Are you gaining enough for it to be worth doing?

Offline ThereIWas3

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #18 on: 05/19/2016 02:34 PM »
The picture mentions Electric propulsion, but the engines at both ends look chemical to me.

A notation pointing to an Orion says it provides life support for the 1,000 day mission.  I don't think so.
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Offline GWH

Why would we want to drive it from orbit? Considering that self-driving cars already exist, and Google and others are constantly investing in making them better, and that you'll probably be able to buy one in no more than a decade, and driving on Mars does not require avoiding pedestrians or other traffic, there's no reason why a person will really have to do much driving with a robot on Mars. The robot is going to be really smart and will drive itself, only needing human intervention rarely. So having an astronaut hanging around for that rare instant when the robot needs help makes no sense.

This.  Another decade of development in machine learning will make the case for operation from orbit even more weak.  Not just for driving but construction of a base with local resources.  Latency is becoming less and less of an issue, I see bandwidth being more limiting now.
Get more information to the people operating remotely from Earth so they can use more VR type control and plan out tasks for the next few hours of work.
As an analogy look at it like foreman/engineers and workers on a construction project.  The foreman end engineers don't complete all the tasks themselves or stand over a laborers shoulder, they set out the tasks for the day, check in periodically.