Author Topic: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread  (Read 9015 times)

Offline mr_magoo

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #20 on: 08/01/2013 11:27 PM »
1.  I like the OP's idea of ending the SLS to station canard,  slowing SLS slightly and getting CC more funding.  Get the immediate needs met.

2.  NASA needs to continue to beat the mission drum.  If not Asteroid-lite,  then what?  Try something else.  Keep it in Congressional faces every year that there is no magical mission budget until they pony up for one.

3.  I'm not for cancelling SLS until commercial gets more time on the road.  It's so hard to get something moving and sustain it that I tend to support whatever is currently running.    Call it blind fear.

Offline spectre9

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #21 on: 08/02/2013 03:01 AM »
So what destinations are possible for NASA HSF?

1. LEO
2. EML 1/2
3. Lunar Orbit
4. Lunar Surface
5. NEA
6. Deimos and Phobos
7. Mars Surface
8. Vesta/Ceres (the fabled asteroid between Mars and Jupiter)

1. LEO

Not a bad destination this one. What's that saying? "LEO is halfway to anywhere in the solar system". It's true. It's a good place to test all your technology. I love the imagery of the Apollo LM flying around in LEO. Not the best test of radiation environments and the light coming off the Earth can heat up your cryo depot.

2. EML

At an Earth Moon Lagrange point you get out from the glare of the Earth and you can test a BEO radiation environment. The Delta V to get out there isn't too bad. EML2 makes a great staging point for BEO spacecraft being right on the edge of the Earth/Luna gravity well.

3. Lunar Orbit

There's not much point flying to Lunar Orbit if not touching down on the Lunar surface. NASA seems to think it's a good place to put a captured rock but there are many issues with getting the rock there and I don't think it's a good idea.

4. Lunar Surface
Repeating Apollo is going to cost a lot of money. That's not to say it's not worth it. $100b is spare change for the USA. NASA gets way more than that every decade. It's a close destination with plenty of science to be done especially at the poles and on the far side.

5. NEA

Asteroid missions aren't about skipping Mars, they're about qualifying the technology required to get to deep space and RPOD (Rendezvous, Proximity Operations, and Docking). Good science return too. We know plenty about Luna, not as much about asteroids.

6. Deimos and Phobos

Little is known about these red rocks. Every spacecraft that has ever gone to Mars has just gone past them and waved, I'd like to see one of them drop in to say hello. I hope Russia has another go at Phobos Grunt. If NASA were to go they could qualify flying all the way to Mars orbit and back. Plenty of good science to be done.

7. Mars Surface

This has been the holy grail of human spaceflight since 1969. Man has dreamed about the Red Planet for centuries wondering what it would like to be to visit this alien world. Rovers have touched down and given us spectacular imagery but Humans would be able to get a much bigger science return. It will be inspirational to all of mankind just as that first footstep by Neil Armstrong 44 years was.

8. Vesta/Ceres

The main belt is very far off but not restricted by the large gravity well and atmosphere of going to the Mars surface. The travel time is going to be very long but super deep space spaceflight is something humans will want to do someday. The science return might not be that great at these distances. Might be more of a destination for potential colonies rather than government HSF.

So the hardware?


It's probably good enough to get to Mars using an EML gateway.


Great spacecraft. It's a bit heavy but it's had years of development put into it and the people building it know what they're doing.

Deep space habitat.

NASA can't get out of building this. ISS gives them the experience they need at building such a structure. Feeding people, making the ECLSS work, qualifying the bog.

Lunar Lander.

Do they need one? Yes they do but only sort of. If they can have some sort of commercial program to develop a small one that will stage from their government run gateway it might be worth it. Commercial will need plenty of skin in the game on this though.

ISS. Good for now. Splashdown in 2020. At 3-4 billion dollars a year to operate on top of the development costs this program has already crippled hobbled NASA. It has to end someday. Make it more useful and get them qualifying SEP thrusters and cryogenic depots.

EML2 gateway/cryogenic depot/SEP cargo.

This is the key to Mars. Cryogenic fuel takes the slow boat to EML2 for stockpiling. The MTV stack is slowly built. Orion can then be sent out for the mission to begin.

Mars lander/MAV.

If everything else falls into place this will be the final component left. Not much use if NASA can't get it to Mars though.

How is it funded?

Commercial crew, SLS/Orion, ISS and JWST are all supposed to end soon enough. Making sure they end and the money goes to exploration is the critical step.

Take the focus away from LEO and get involved at EML2. Gives NASA a BEO destination and a base camp for BEO missions. Using commercial cargo runs to get stuff out there should save NASA plenty of money. Falcon Heavy should get around 10 tons out there. SEP tugs will help get large unmanned payloads out there. Falcon Heavy with Dragon should be able to take crew to and from such a station. NASA just needs SLS to build the thing and take their large Habs/Orion out there.
« Last Edit: 08/02/2013 03:05 AM by spectre9 »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #22 on: 08/02/2013 03:15 AM »
Fully fund commercial crew. Go forward with two commercial crew providers, possibly consolidating cargo (while keeping an option for occasional Cygnus launches for particularly bulky cargo), but while also requiring the selected providers to put forward a good plan for operating beyond LEO as well.

End SLS and Orion. But not an outright cancel. Morph the programs so they are no longer essentially gold-plated versions of things already available or nearing development by the "commercial" folk. SLS will be significantly scaled back, but focused on a refuelable in-space stage and depot architecture... to be launched on existing launchers or slight upgrades. Instead of just building launch vehicles, let's build and LAUNCH space ships.

A few copies of the Orion capsule will be made (the vehicle is nearly complete), but mostly moth-balled for use as primarily Earth return vehicles (cancel the silly international service module, the Europeans can help more if they use ATV as some sort of space station module or something). The team would work with the SEV project to make a general-purpose deep space craft that would form the basis of a Mars lander, Moon lander, or deep space inspection or asteroid inspection vehicle. Additionally, elements of Orion left over from the domestic service module would be transfered over to the deep space hab service module effort.

The asteroid mission would go forward, but the effort would be built around ISS-EP, a smaller version of ISS towed to EML1 (via SEP tug functioning also as a tech demo for a larger SEP system) after being built at ISS. ISS-EP would be built with funds from SLS and Orion, using ISS's left-over spare pool, including the left-over ISS module and Node 4 and an MPLM (or equivalent). It would use as much ISS heritage as possible except where cheaper alternatives are available... The goal is to get it fully operational well before ISS needs to be decommissioned. It may be international, but the US section would be able to function completely independently.

The asteroid would be docked permanently to the outpost and ISRU technologies would be tested there, including using asteroid regolith as shielding for radiation mitigation.

And as soon as the ISS-EP outpost is on its way to EML1/2 or lunar orbit, the asteroid would also be on its way. Crew would arrive via commercial crew to the gateway and grapple the asteroid there (or perhaps use a version of the SEV or Orion to grapple the asteroid). And by the way, NASA would sign agreements with any companies that NASA would pay a fixed rate for consumables delivered to the ISS-EP, allowing commercial utilization of the Moon, of asteroids, etc, with zero risk to NASA and a firm, defined market for the commercial companies. The ISS-EP would function as a logistics staging point, perhaps a propellant depot (or one nearby), giving a common interface for commercial companies to deliver consumables and propellant and even people for all exploration missions, whether to an asteroid, Moon, or Mars.

Concurrent with the asteroid mission, the deep space hab (a lighter, smaller version of the ISS-EP) along with a huge solar array (500-1000kW) would be developed, along with a long-duration kick-stage based either off the in-space stage or the Orion service module. The deep space exploration stack would be out-fitted at the ISS-EP (at this point, ISS itself is likely deorbited). After going on a shake-down cruise to an asteroid, this deep-space exploration stack would head toward Mars. The deep-space exploration craft would enter Mars orbit to study Deimos and/or Phobos (along with low-latency remote exploration of Mars), possibly with some EVAs or using the SEV to land on Phobos.

After this first Mars orbital mission, the next step is to develop the SEV craft into a landing vehicle, possibly using the old leftover structure of those currently working on SLS and Orion. The Mars lander/ascent vehicle will be parked in Low Mars orbit, and the deep space exploration stack merely needs to dock to it, doing the same sort of mission as the orbital Mars mission. This would be a short-stay mission.

Perhaps at this point, ISS-EP may be replaced by a commercial facility. It's possible ISS-EP (if designed with the thermal environment in mind) could be sent to low Mars orbit as an orbiting outpost. Another asteroid could be captured and docked to it, to be scavenged for regolith for radiation shielding (and perhaps consumables).

The next trip to Mars would be after a hab is landed on Mars. The Hab would be landed on Mars perhaps using more than one piece, put together with something like JPL's Athlete rover. (A similar concept would work for building a lunar base.) This would allow the first long-stay mission.

After another hab for redundancy, Logistics would again be on a fixed-rate basis where possible, so companies could send supplies for cheap to the Mars base or develop a solution that can effectively produce ISRU consumables including fuel. Ideally, even crew transport to and from the Mars base could be commercialized, if some non-NASA customer is identified (hard to predict).

At this point, all the major goals of NASA's current exploration program have been achieved. The next step would be to further encourage the commercial development of space by incentivizing cheaper access to space via reusable launch vehicles (which presumably is more common at this point, what with SpaceX, Blue Origin, XCOR, and Virgin Galactic pursuing reusability). The supply chain can be further improved by developing a reusable Mars lander/ascent vehicle, perhaps developed by competition. In the second half of the century, work can begin on a mission to Jupiter using a deep-space craft using actively-cooled liquid hydrogen as radiation shielding (in addition to advanced biomedical countermeasures) and a small artificial gravity section (will be needed if you're talking about most of a decade in deep space).

tl;dr: Fund/consolidate ccrew to two providers, morph Orion/SLS (budget, workforce, NASA centers, and potentially contracts) into building exploration mission hardware, extend ISS to 2025+ as planned, but use its spares to build a Lagrange gateway and then a deep space exploration craft for orbital then surface missions to Mars (after short asteroid mission in the meantime).
« Last Edit: 08/02/2013 01:32 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline floss

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #23 on: 08/02/2013 10:50 AM »
Finish Orion and the SLS and do not cut the program like has been done so many times before.
Expand ISS living quarters so that crew can be expanded .

Build the Gateway station resupply it using commercials .

Get somebody else to build the lunar ferry.Preferably two needed one for cargo one for crew .Build Moonbase using local materials .Again leave the supplies to the commercials .

Build Phobos station using any and all resources .Commercial crew and supplies .Mars ferries commercial .  Build Mars base out of local material and terraform the planet.


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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #24 on: 08/02/2013 12:19 PM »
VEHICLES/BUDGET: With a large-ish annual budget increase to NASA of say; $1.5 billion dollars - split that between Commercial Crew for ISS and helping speed up SLS/Orion. Cancel JWST (sorry).

The above was best case. Worst case or medium/worst case? NASA budget remains flat, which is the most likely scenario. So (intake of ragged breath) cancel SLS but keep Orion for Delta IV-H. Using SLS funding, top-up Commercial Crew money and upgrade Delta IV-H with Aluminium/Lithium structures and upper stage improvements; maybe even ACES. Modify Pads 39A & B to accommodate both Delta IV-H and Falcon Heavy. FH is likely to get an Elon-funded upper stage upgrade anyway, so we wont worry about that for now. With an upgraded Delta IV-H able to lift more than 35 tons to LEO and FH able to lift more than 50; coupled with mission enabling technologies like the following; humans can explore the Solar System:

Fund Solar Electric Propulsion, radiation-resistant Habitat Modules and LOX/CH4 or low-toxic storable Propellant Depots. With no funding for true heavy lift or nuclear propulsion; SEP and Depots are the only way for humans to reach BEO. Orion and/or Dragon, coupled with Habitat modules and chemical and Solar propulsion modules will find NEAs and the moons of Mars within reach and maybe Ceres as well.

DESTINATIONS: A four 'Chapter' sequence -

#1: By the year 2025 - Dynamically Stable, Near Earth Asteroid. Using the vehicle and propulsion module mix as above. In my opinion, the current 'Asteroid Heist' DRM is a mediocre, budget-strangled idea. It is not much more than 'Apollo 8 with added truck-sized space rock'. If NASA wants a decent quantity of asteroid regolith and wants to test large scale SEP, then build a darn SEP Sample Return Probe and save the cost of sending humans to a tiddly carbonaceous chunk!! But; A NEA several hundred meters in diameter or larger will look spectacular on 4k Ultra-HiDef TV when Astronauts are clambering over it - a microgravity 'Mount Everest' in Space!!

#2: 2029 - in time for the 60th Anniversary of Apollo - PHOBOS. With the Martian Moons you kinda get two asteroids anyway for the price of one. A small 'fleet' of SEP/Chemical propulsion modules could pre-deploy to Deimos and Phobos supplies, propellants and Exploration Vehicles (the Kubrick Space Pod-like SEVs). A small crew in an Orion/Habitat/Propulsion stack could fly a fast trajectory to Phobos and live and work at the Phobos Gateway, Tele-Operating and scooping-up Sample Return Probes and using an SEP module to 'spiral' up to Deimos to explore and set up instruments and equipment there before heading back to Earth. Perhaps more than one of these Phobos/Deimos missions will be needed?

#3: Leading up to 2029, then beyond - invite entities such as 'Golden Spike' (as example) to help develop a Commercial Crew-to-the-Moon vehicles and architecture that NASA is only a mere partner of. Helping to get a Bigelow type Semi-permanent 4-person Outpost set up at the Lunar South Pole. Then if the hardware and operations prove themselves; this architecture could 'clone' itself for one or two other outposts on the Farside and a 'best' Nearside location. And particularly if Lunar ISRU technologies emerge as credible and efficient in time.

#4: But further developments need not be static during the Martian Moon activity - using a Commercial/NASA/International Moon venture as a technical and operational model; develop the Manned Mars Descent/Ascent and Surface Habitation landers. Perhaps it could be a Common Descent Stage(TM) that can carry a Hab Module, Ascent Stage, or Cargo Module on its back? By the mid 2030s manned Mars Missions could start to become semi-routine.

Recap#1 - Large, stable, geologically interesting NEA. This mission is a good trial run for: #2 - Phobos, Deimos or both. In partnership with tele-robotically operated Sample Return Probes which rendezvous with the crewed vehicle.  #3 - Commercial Space contest to develop multi-purpose Lunar landing craft for crew or cargo. Trial man-tended, semi-reusable surface Outposts at several locations. Make vehicles as future-proofed as possible for #4 - the start of manned Mars missions. Create a genuine, 4-step "Flexible Mission" path that culminates with Mars. Any missions to the Asteroid belt or the Moons of Jupiter after that in the following decades are just icing on the cake.

But Go Somewhere...
« Last Edit: 08/02/2013 12:34 PM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline Chris Bergin

(This isn't breaching single post thread rules, as I'm just making a note as "moderator").

Very, very interesting thread. Huge swings in opinion, but some great posts on all sides. It's healthy for a forum to have big differences in opinion on the same subject. Keeps the debate healthy.

Carry on....

Offline Ronpur50

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #26 on: 08/02/2013 04:02 PM »
Penny for NASA

Increase Nasa's budget to a penny from every dollar spent instead of the 1/2 to 1/3 it gets now. 

Then we can get SLS, Commercial, more Mars rovers, men to Mars before I die of old age. 

I was 5 when Apollo 11 was the greatest thing ever to happen to Mankind.  I can't believe we have never gone back or gone further.

It is appalling.  How many Super Carriers do we need, but we can't get back to the Moon or on to Mars?

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #27 on: 08/02/2013 04:14 PM »
I think we should be as aggressive as possible. We need to hit the ground running with SLS. We should fly missions as often as we can and do as much as we can on each one. We are going to have to be smart and incorporate and much commercial possibilities and international partners. Fly EM-1 in 2017 and EM-2 as soon as possible after that. Get SLS Block 1B in operation quickly, and then donít worry about Block 2 unless absolutely needed for a Mars lander. A hab module could be easily developed by an international partner and will allow both a basic NEO (like the Plymouth Rock proposal) and Mars flyby (like Inspiration Mars) mission in the early 2020ís. A lunar lander could be developed by a commercial competition or by an international partner. Deep space solar electric propulsion can be developed in the US after Block 1B becomes operational. The goal should be able to do advanced NEO missions, get to Mars Orbit, and the Lunar Surface by the mid 2020ís. The Mars lander its self will be quite an undertaking but the budget will hopefully improve in later years, especially if the public sees real progress being made. We can talk about each architecture, and which missions should be done in which order. However I think we could all agree that we need to build capability, use it and then move on to the next thing that will eventually get us to Mars.

Offline johncarpinelli

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #28 on: 08/03/2013 07:02 PM »
NASA HSF goals: settle the moon and Mars.

Redirect the ISS commercial crew and resupply funds to a lunar COTS program to deliver robots to the lunar surface and solar power satellites to lunar orbit. Construct a lunar base using tele-operated robots. Extract oxygen and building materials from the lunar regolith. Beam solar energy to the base from lunar satellites. Extract water ice from shadowed craters if possible. Otherwise, ship the hydrogen from Earth and combine with lunar oxygen for water.

Before the first manned mission, start food production in lunar greenhouses and have a fully constructed base ready for occupation. The first mission should aim for a six month stay on the moon. The base should be permanently inhabited after the first mission. ISS can be de-orbited in a similar timeframe.

Contract for commercial manned flights to the moon with a per-seat price high enough to justify private development of launch vehicles. Fund the development of in-orbit propellant depots and in-orbit assembly of lunar vehicles. Cancel SLS and Orion. Pay private companies for seats to the moon instead.

After the lunar base is self-sustaining in food and energy production, start a similar plan for settlement of Mars.

Offline zerm

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #29 on: 08/04/2013 03:36 AM »
NASA's plan for the future of HSF will depend on the elected branch of the US Government. Currently that plan involves, in reality, millions of people going through the KSC visitor center and gazing in amazement at Atlantis- stuffed, mounted and dead as a big game fish on the wall of a seafood restaurant. Then, of course, they can all go and see the Angry Birds exhibit. No one is gonna cancel SLS. They may cancel JWST if they are smart. Have they been smart yet? About anything? There's your answer. And the peanut gallery's favorite "Commercial" is not going to get more funding until they produce more of what they promised. Anyone recall Ms Shotwell's testimony in front of Congress three years ago when she stated that SpaceX could send a crew to the ISS in three years once they were given the go ahead? Now it's more like 2017... humm... same date as the Ares I (oh sorry- didn't mean to say that word and cause a Knights who say Nee moment). The point is, we Americans were very smart once, but that came to an end at 5:57 am EDT on July 21, 2011 when the final shuttle flight ended. No one should expect us to get smart once again... there are just too many reality TV shows on for us to have time for that. NASA's plan reflects the US Leaders and they reflect the US citizens. Quite sad when you really think about it. Anyhow- that is my one post and I'm sticking to it.

Offline space_dreamer

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Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #30 on: 08/04/2013 04:26 PM »
Firstly SLS needs a higher flight rate, ideally with payloads it doesn't have to pay for!. NASA should work with the US military to design a satellite bus for very large 40 ton plus GTO satellites. This new very large class would obviously be expensive but offer a huge jump in capacity and just one extra launch a year would made a difference. Plan for an SLS launched international Mars sample return mission.

Secondly NASA needs to get behind the Olympus 2100 Bigelow concept by offering a free SLS launch. The Olympus 2100 will require 16 Dragon/Dream chasers per year which would really get the private manned launch market going, driving down prices.   

Thirdly NASA should buy a lunar lander from the new space company's. The 10 billion dollar quote for NASA to design and build it in house was ridiculous. I'm sure SpaceX could design and build a basic lander with Dragon technology for less than one billion. This could be launched by SLS.

Fourthly cancel the Boeing CST -100 and cancel one of the EELV systems (I know EELVs are Air Force but NASA and the USAF should work more closely together) and Falcon 9 can be a back up for the remaining EELV system.

Offline kkattula

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #31 on: 08/24/2013 09:44 PM »
Restore the NASA budget back to at least $19B indexed.

Reasonable SLS flight rate capability, i.e. 4 to 6 per year.

L2 Gateway. Using DSH, SEP

COTS / CCDEV style program's for Moon, Mars & asteroid landers and surface equipment.
« Last Edit: 08/24/2013 09:44 PM by kkattula »

Offline clongton

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #32 on: 08/25/2013 03:08 AM »
Ok I know I won’t make any friends with this, especially with my involvement with DIRECT, but so many people are absolutely gaga over going to Mars, and I just have to ask: Why? Because it’s the justification for SLS’s existence? My grandson definitely wants to go, and I won’t rain on his parade, but we’re all adults here, I think, so once again I ask Why go to Mars - now? I do maintain that Mars MUST be the end result, the long term goal, but trying to get there quickly will only rob the HSF program of much needed funding, effort and most importantly TIME, which is ticking down to the ultimate loss of ISS. Look, Mars is the house we ALL want to build - I get it. In fact I’m right there with you all on that. But any house that is built on a foundation that is not rock solid will not long endure, no matter how nice it is. What we should be focusing on in terms of HSF is the foundation. Leave Mars to the robots - for now. There’s plenty to be done, plenty that MUST be done, right here in cis-lunar space, before we send humans so far away at such cost in treasure and lost time.

 We all realize that we have already seen the last glory days of government-sponsored space flight. They’re behind us now because there is no overriding national purpose, and even less money. Most of us, myself included, desperately want to see a robust commercial HSF program. For that we need multiple destinations all over the place. What we should be doing, for the HSF program’s long term economic health is creating a 2-world economy between earth and luna, and everywhere in between. The ISS is just a start, a temporary way station. It will likely be gone in 10-15 years. It literally won’t be able to function after that. Once the ISS is gone, federal dollars will dry up and space will become much harder. So we have a very limited window of opportunity here to start servicing at least one destination, on a temporary basis. Over the next 30 to 50 years we should be creating extremely large commercial orbital stations, each one supporting a couple hundred people or more. They can be “industrial towns” if you will. There are so many industries that can benefit immeasurably from zero-g operations. We should be building HUGE rotating stations where the core is the heart of the industry and the rotating hub is the “town” where the people live and play, going up to the core for their work shifts. Imagine the opportunities for commercial space providers to keep several of these “towns” supplied and to transport their goods back to earth. How will we get all that tonnage up there? Atlas, Delta Heavy and Falcon Heavy. Even SLS will ultimately play a role.

For the moment I will make an assumption, namely that lunar ISRU can prove to be very successful and, ultimately, profitable. It’s entirely likely that if that capability is developed that much of what the orbiting towns need can be supplied less expensively from luna than from earth. The commercial space vehicle operators would make a killing. They could charge huge sums for the material deliveries, and still be far cheaper than what it would cost to bring the same material up from the earth. Doing this would likely result in multiple settlements on the lunar surface. Not bases, and not stations, but actual towns. Over the 3 to 5 decades I’m thinking about, the economic transactions between the earth, multiple huge space stations and lunar settlements, would ultimately solidify into a permanent economy. All based on profit.

Very few people with the money to do so, choose to spend their fortunes on space. Why? because they didn't build their fortunes to throw them away. There needs to be a bottom line that shows a healthy ROI. Those opportunities can be incubated right now, with SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, Boeing and Bigalow. But to make that happen we need money. We can’t penny pinch our way to prosperity. Money begets money and poverty is forever. We have to spend the money, but where will we get it?

Definitely continue to develop Orion, but at a slower pace. Let SLS also continue, but at an even slower pace. The mission of SLS should be to help populate cis-lunar space, not send 5 people on a boots and flags 2-year trip to collect some Martian sand in a bottle for the fireplace mantle. Pour the savings into the Commercial crew providers and let the government subsidize Robert Bigalow to create a few small destinations where different industries can test the waters. The industries will be willing to take a chance provided they don’t have to break the bank for a reasonable shot at a ROI. Those that take the shot and realize the potential profit will say thank you and take it from there themselves, funding even larger facilities for good reasons - they will make big profits for the shareholders.

Let’s build a rock solid ECONOMIC foundation in cis-lunar space, on which we can build, not a house of cards, but a REAL house, a real space-based economy and then we can take REAL steps to subdue Mars, as well as destinations even further afield. We need to focus on the foundation before we try to build the house. Every soldier understands the necessity of consolidating the gains before stretching the supply lines too thin, otherwise those gains will be lost again. This is no different.

This is the ONLY way to get away from the paradigm of the government funded HSF program. Space must become self funded. So long as it is at the whim of the Congressional purse string holders and their ever deepening dependence on constituents that don't care about space, the HSF program will suffer and starve. We must get away from that once and for all. This is the only way I can see that might actually work.
« Last Edit: 08/25/2013 03:42 AM by clongton »
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Offline MattMason

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #33 on: 11/25/2014 01:33 PM »
The thread's been dormant for nearly a year, but a lot of progress has been made as we near EFT-1 and Orion's first flight. And I've searched the forums through and through for where I could post my thoughts without creating Yet Another Orion Bashing Thread.

But even in that time, Orion still seems like a project without a clear-cut purpose. And yet, I would not be for cutting the program.

It is strange--very, very strange--how NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and others "talk up" Orion at any opportunity (even stealing thunder from its own press conference at the Commercial Crew announcement). It's strange because we still have a minimum four-year planned wait before the first crew takes to the sky in one. It's strange because Orion's mission isn't clearly defined as projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. In some ways, it's far less defined than the STS program (which was forced to redefine itself, in my opinion, back to its space truck purpose and left a lasting legacy of the ISS).

So I had to dig a bit, to the extent that my space enthusiast nature could, never being an employee in the industry. Is there a real purpose to Orion, or can there be one? Why are the test flights spaced so ridiculously far apart? After EFT-1, we have a three-year wait for the still-unmanned EM-2.

My only conclusion is that NASA is preparing. Going to Mars, sure. But without a national mandate to go, the hype is weak at best for Orion. We have gone to Mars. We beat the Russians to that place, too, to pull a page from the old Cold War days. We can see individual grains of sand and hematite and formations from the very successful Mars rover missions. And there are very conflicting reports on what habitat would be used to go there and back. Mars really isn't a goal. It's a pleasant distraction.

Then there's the "asteroid retrieval mission." I call b.s. on this one. There's no need for such a mission, unless one too many NASA engineers and administrators drank a bit too much and scared themselves silly while watching a SF movie marathon of "When Worlds Collide," "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon."

In my opinion, Orion is being prepped to be an asteroid interceptor. But NASA has to be very careful in how they define the spacecraft's mission. Too many tin-foil conspiracies can create an undue panic. The internet is filled with information but very few people can parse it together in a way that makes sense. Most people get their news from Facebook.

So, in "peacetime," Orion is an able BEO explorer--but with a habitat, of course. The publicity videos that talk of the Orion spacecraft leaving alone to prance about beyond lunar orbit is ludicrous. She wouldn't have enough consumables and the crew would go stir-crazy after a few weeks.

Should NASA continue plans for "asteroid retrieval?" Sure. It's clearly live training for when they must intercept an asteroid on a possible collision course with Earth. The SLS vehicle configurations are versatile enough to lift anything needed for this mission.

There's nothing remarkable in an asteroid itself unless iron has suddenly become a high commodity. But it's very remarkable to be able to push large asteroids away and have a vehicle capable of reaching such dangers at any reasonable launch window with time to spare and the necessary tools to adjust the rock's trajectory.

And with that, Orion has a purpose, smoke-screened and vague as it must seem for space fans in the know.

Since an asteroid collision is such a clear danger to all of mankind, I'm "all aboard for Orion", as the NASA publicity goes. If protecting the planet (and not upsetting us while doing it) is Orion's "secret mission," then one could argue that not enough money is being put into the project.
"Why is the logo on the side of a rocket so important?"
"So you can find the pieces." -Jim, the Steely Eyed

Offline Waz_Met_Jou

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Re: Refining The Plan for NASA HSF - Single Post Opinion Thread
« Reply #34 on: 11/26/2014 05:11 PM »
Drawing up a plan for NASA's HSF program should be done by asking three questions:

1. What benefits do we want to achieve here on Earth?
2. What missions can be performed to achieve these goals here on Earth?
3. How do we perform these missions?

A lot of people focus on the third point; schedule for SLS, or a replacement for the program, scrapping Orion/expanding commercial crew, no heavy lift, heavier lifter, etc.

Yet all of these assume that the current goal of NASA's HSF program (a mission to Mars) is a worthwhile goal, and one that is worth a large increase in budget and hundreds of billions of dollars. I don't really agree with this goal; in my view, NASA's main function should be spurring technological development, performing large scale space science to advance human knowledge, and explore potential economic possibilities in space (even if I'm not big on space mining). In all cases, we should focus on minimal cost for maximum scientific output.

To achieve these goals, I can imagine a handful of missions that could be useful, including:

1. Asteroid retrieval mission
2. Small research stations in LEO and DRO
3. Large scale (human assisted) robotic exploration of the moon and Mars
4. Medium duration missions on the surface of the moon

So, if I was to map out an exploration roadmap for the coming twenty years, I would do it something like this:

Starting as soon as possible, I'd cancel SLS and spend the money for SLS on developing two robotic precursor missions, one to an asteroid and one to the lunar surface, to perform useful scouting work for later missions. I'd use the money left over for the ARM, the development of advanced life support systems, initial development of a long duration Hab and a small in-space stage that can be refuelled and send a ~30 ton payload to the moon. Orion would be replaced with augmenting Dragon/CST-100 for deep space return. The first unmanned precursor missions should reach their targets by 2018.

The ARM would be performed ASAP, preferably by around 2023, with a modified com crew vehicle and long duration Hab docking at the retrieved asteroid. Additional precursor missions to the surface of the moon would also take place. To get these payloads there, a Falcon/Delta/Atlas launches the stage, refuels it and sends the payload off to lunar orbit. The stage could be hydrolox, kerolox or even storable, depending on what provides the best cost/performance ratio.

Lunar surface missions using can be performed using robots and a crew assisting from a lunar station, followed by an Early Lunar Access style mission to the surface, with an unmanned base already set up to receive the crew. Missions like these, where the manned part is played down and the unmanned part is greatly increased compared to most mission proposals, would in my view be more cost effective and provide greater scientific and technological payoff.

Of course, I'm not an expert, and I could be greatly off on some of these marks. Maybe the missions listed are not scientifically, technologically or economically interesting, but the general thought behind it is still valid: perform valuable missions for minimum cost and maximum direct benefit, rather than for maximum prestige or 'inspiration', and try to achieve these benefits in the near term, within timespans of 5-10 years rather than 15 or 20 years.