Author Topic: Orbital ATK Advocates Cislunar Outpost as America's NEXT Step in Human Space Exp  (Read 19465 times)

Online jacqmans

  • Moderator
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17270
  • Houten, The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2893
  • Likes Given: 185
Article by Chris Gebhardt:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/05/orbital-atk-cislunar-habitat-missions-sls-orion/

Nathan L2 renders included :)


Orbital ATK Advocates Cislunar Outpost as America's NEXT Step in Human Space Exploration

Former NASA Astronaut Frank Culbertson Proposes Four-Person Crew-Tended Lunar-Orbit Habitat to Be in Place by 2020

Company’s Flight-Proven Cygnus Spacecraft Could be Used as a Building-Block Habitat Leading to Lunar Research and Mars Exploration


Dulles, Virginia 18 March 2016 – Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today advocated for a manned lunar-orbit outpost as America’s next step in human space exploration.

During testimony this afternoon to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space, Frank Culbertson, President of the company’s Space Systems Group, said, “A lunar-orbit habitat will extend America’s leadership in space to the cislunar domain. A robust program to build, launch and operate this initial outpost would be built on NASA’s and our international partners’ experience gained in long-duration human space flight on the International Space Station and would make use of the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion deep-space transportation system.”

Orbital ATK was recently selected by NASA to study an initial version of a cislunar habitat that could evolve over time to a much larger research platform with many of the capabilities required for a human mission to Mars. These studies fall under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, a public-private partnership model that seeks commercial development of deep-space exploration capabilities to support more extensive human space flight missions in the “proving ground” of cislunar space, the region from Earth orbit that extends beyond the moon.

During his testimony, Mr. Culbertson emphasized that Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is a strong candidate to be used as a habitat building block for the cislunar outpost and eventually to help achieve NASA’s goal of human exploration of Mars.

“The experience gained in the cislunar proving ground will lead directly to longer mission durations in deep space and eventually enable a manned mission to Mars,” Culbertson said. “But, in order to increase stay times in cislunar space and accommodate a range of technology demonstrations and scientific experiments, additional habitation space and consumables are necessary. A very good starting point for the design of a cislunar habitat is our flexible, human-rated Cygnus spacecraft which incorporates the knowledge gained from delivering cargo to the ISS.”

The initial habitat concept includes pre-positioning a Cygnus-derived module in lunar orbit using a commercial launch vehicle in 2020, to be ready for a first visit by astronauts on the inaugural crewed flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft in 2021.  Additional habitat and research modules would expand the outpost following delivery by Orion/SLS and other launch systems in the 2022-2025 period.

This concept would serve a dual purpose:  to establish the first elements of cislunar infrastructure to enable expanded exploration of the Moon in the 2020s, and to also provide a platform for technology research and demonstration needed to enable human flights to Mars in the 2030s.  NASA, the European Space Agency and other international partners also could use the evolving outpost as a staging base and safe haven for lunar landing expeditions and robotic surface operations.

“Since many aspects of operations in deep space are as yet untested, confidence must be developed through repeated flights to, and relatively long-duration missions in, cislunar space,” Culbertson said. “Orbital ATK continues to operate our Cygnus cargo logistics vehicle as a flagship product, so we are ready to quickly and affordably implement an initial Cygnus-derived habitat in cislunar space within three years of a go-ahead.”

Orbital ATK has already expanded the capabilities of Cygnus beyond its core cargo delivery function. The spacecraft is serving as a research platform capable of hosting technology risk-reduction demonstrations to enable deep-space exploration as part of existing cargo delivery missions to the ISS. The first technology demonstration, Spacecraft Fire Experiment-1 (SAFFIRE-1) designed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center, is currently in-orbit aboard the OA-6 Cygnus. Following Cygnus’ departure from the ISS next month, the largest man-made fire ever in space will be ignited in the Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module, which will enable NASA to investigate fire detection, advanced fire extinguishing methods, and post-fire clean up in a space environment. 
« Last Edit: 05/19/2016 06:03 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline MattMason

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 928
  • Space Enthusiast
  • Indiana
  • Liked: 643
  • Likes Given: 1123
Oooh. Orbital ATK is flexing its muscle, and I like how this can be read.

While Antares is on the mend from ORB-3, their launch vehicle is a good one, especially if the new RD-181 engines keep to a similar reliability model as similar ones on Atlas. But it's an LEO vehicle only, especially with that Castor solid engine, although the vehicle could change up their stages or even add a third.

The press release notes that Orbital would use their Cygnus modules as manned habitats, launched by the SLS. That's nice in that it's Orbital that's helping NASA with another option to  give the SLS some missions. Problem is, as the SLS thread notes, that the LV is slow to build, underfunded, and has few initial missions slated right now. I doubt Orbital's proposal changes these conditions.

But since the Cygnus module is basically a flying MPLM, it has all the pressure essentials as current ISS modules with some heating, cooling, ECLSS and electrical work. It may not require as much inner construction work as a Bigelow module but still require some neat automated "Voltron"-style mating process, which will also require a node with an IMA or, in this case, an Orion docking adapter.

I don't see this proposal flying, but I like that Orbital is adding more options to expand the space frontier and isn't waiting for its cooperative competitors to define things for them, leaving them in support mode as they and SNC often are characterized.

You go, "little" space launch and cargo provider and prospective space habitat supplier.
"Why is the logo on the side of a rocket so important?"
"So you can find the pieces." -Jim, the Steely Eyed

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1011
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 465
  • Likes Given: 221

The press release notes that Orbital would use their Cygnus modules as manned habitats, launched by the SLS. That's nice in that it's Orbital that's helping NASA with another option to  give the SLS some missions. Problem is, as the SLS thread notes, that the LV is slow to build, underfunded, and has few initial missions slated right now. I doubt Orbital's proposal changes these conditions.

OA seems to be proposing more to use commercial launches to put them up there. So it seems less about giving SLS additional cargo launches than the potential of a destination for manned SLS/Orion launches.

From a business perspective it's probably some healthy reading of the tea leaves regarding Congress' interest in habs lately.

Online abaddon

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1670
  • Liked: 1125
  • Likes Given: 958
You go, "little" space launch and cargo provider and prospective space habitat supplier.
Orbital ATK is anything but "little"!

The Cygnus is a great vehicle and it is nice to hear of talk of further use of it, although as always with any of these more far-reaching concepts you have to take it with a huge grain of salt.  Still, good on them, and hopefully it goes further than a PR some day in the future.


Offline MattMason

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 928
  • Space Enthusiast
  • Indiana
  • Liked: 643
  • Likes Given: 1123
You go, "little" space launch and cargo provider and prospective space habitat supplier.
Orbital ATK is anything but "little"!

The Cygnus is a great vehicle and it is nice to hear of talk of further use of it, although as always with any of these more far-reaching concepts you have to take it with a huge grain of salt.  Still, good on them, and hopefully it goes further than a PR some day in the future.

"Little" was deliberately in quotes for that reason. Orbital and SNC do a lot in the field. But they're aren't in the "in-crowd" like SpaceX and ULA and want to be. I suspect they're on the verge with the right connections.
"Why is the logo on the side of a rocket so important?"
"So you can find the pieces." -Jim, the Steely Eyed

Online Chris Bergin

Article by Chris Gebhardt:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/05/orbital-atk-cislunar-habitat-missions-sls-orion/

Nathan L2 renders included :)

Orbital ATK Render below.

Online abaddon

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1670
  • Liked: 1125
  • Likes Given: 958
"Little" was deliberately in quotes for that reason. Orbital and SNC do a lot in the field. But they're aren't in the "in-crowd" like SpaceX and ULA and want to be. I suspect they're on the verge with the right connections.
"Orbital" pre-merger, sure... not OrbitalATK, though.

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3017
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 696
  • Likes Given: 1154
OA seems to be proposing more to use commercial launches to put them up there. So it seems less about giving SLS additional cargo launches than the potential of a destination for manned SLS/Orion launches.

From a business perspective it's probably some healthy reading of the tea leaves regarding Congress' interest in habs lately.

Finally we are getting closer to something that makes sense. 

Orion and SLS have a destination and a more meaningful mission than the unexciting asteroid thing that has almost no traction.

The 'hab' discussion is an exciting development.  A decision could be made in the next couple years as Orion and SLS development budgets decrease and the ISS approaches end of life.

This could really happen folks.

YIPPEE!!!
SpaceX, just a few things planned for 2018: FH, Starlink Prototypes, Block 5, Dragon 2, Increased launch rate.

Offline RocketmanUS

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2226
  • USA
  • Liked: 71
  • Likes Given: 31
Quote from article-
"Since its inception, critics of SLS have routinely repeated the mantra of “no missions” for the largest Heavy Lift Vehicle thus-far built."

Vulcan Aces could also deliver Orion to an EML-2 station if it is built. Still no need for this over sized vehicle and another yearly overhead. The HLV was sold to Americans for Mars and Lunar, not EML-2 or asteroid missions. SLS is for very wide body payloads that the smaller launchers could not deliver if we ever have such a payload beyond 8 meter diameter.

An EML-2 station is a good idea. As long as it does not get in the way of getting people to the surface of Mars. Let's be smart and use Vulcan ACES to get Orion to EML-2 and or FH Dragon V2 to get crew and supplies to an EML-2 station. Both are to be commercial launch vehicle with their yearly overhead payed for by the other launches needed or wanted in the commercial sector and or other government launches.

Any idea on what launch vehicle would be used to send Cygnus to EML-2?

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3017
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 696
  • Likes Given: 1154
Quote from article-
"Since its inception, critics of SLS have routinely repeated the mantra of “no missions” for the largest Heavy Lift Vehicle thus-far built."

Vulcan Aces could also deliver Orion to an EML-2 station if it is built. Still no need for this over sized vehicle and another yearly overhead. The HLV was sold to Americans for Mars and Lunar, not EML-2 or asteroid missions. SLS is for very wide body payloads that the smaller launchers could not deliver if we ever have such a payload beyond 8 meter diameter.

An EML-2 station is a good idea. As long as it does not get in the way of getting people to the surface of Mars. Let's be smart and use Vulcan ACES to get Orion to EML-2 and or FH Dragon V2 to get crew and supplies to an EML-2 station. Both are to be commercial launch vehicle with their yearly overhead payed for by the other launches needed or wanted in the commercial sector and or other government launches.

Any idea on what launch vehicle would be used to send Cygnus to EML-2?

Rocketman, don't dispair, this is a slow walk evolution to either a lunar base or trip to Mars.  slowly build up the idea and at some point someone somenwhere will say, 'Ghee all we need is a lander'

I for one am very happy with the Lunar emphasis.  Yes we all want to get to Mars, but the moon is so much closer and easier.  Humans on Mars is still 20+ years away, best to get past LEO and baby step from there.
SpaceX, just a few things planned for 2018: FH, Starlink Prototypes, Block 5, Dragon 2, Increased launch rate.

Offline GWH

Finally we are getting closer to something that makes sense. 

Orion and SLS have a destination and a more meaningful mission than the unexciting asteroid thing that has almost no traction.

How is floating around in a "stationary" tin can* in cis-lunar space more exciting than visiting a 5m boulder plunked off an asteroid?

*Hyperbole added to reflect what the general public's opinion might be.


IMO this station would be a great place to bring the asteroid sample TO (and perhaps multiples), it opens the door to commercial and international use, however slim the business case might be.
« Last Edit: 05/19/2016 08:28 PM by GWH »

Offline Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
What I like is the idea of getting it there first and set up.  I believe they used the term 'Safe Haven' in the article.  Should something go wrong on the early Orion flights, it gives them a place to 'abort to shelter' while a fix or rescue craft is worked out.

One possible impact I could see.  Using this as a 'risk reduction' factor in advancing the first manned Orion flight to the first service module flight rather than waiting for the third SLS (second SM).
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3921
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2607
  • Likes Given: 3342
Orion and SLS have a destination and a more meaningful mission than the unexciting asteroid thing that has almost no traction.

I would think SLS and Orion supporters would not be rejecting any ideas that use the SLS and Orion...

Quote
The 'hab' discussion is an exciting development.

Why?

What does a cislunar habitat do for the U.S. Taxpayer?

It appears to be a less capable version of the ISS, but in a far more remote (and expensive) location.

How does this help us get to Mars, which is NASA's current internal goal?

And if it doesn't help us to directly get to Mars, what explicit political goal is needed to justify such a sustained operation as this demands?  Because flying the government-owned SLS frequently just to move cargo and crew back and forth in cislunar space seems like a waste of money after all the effort NASA has put into Commercial Cargo and Crew.  It would certainly look like a backwards step.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Finally we are getting closer to something that makes sense. 

Orion and SLS have a destination and a more meaningful mission than the unexciting asteroid thing that has almost no traction.

How is floating around in a "stationary" tin can in cis-lunar space more exciting than visiting a 5m boulder plunked off an asteroid?

1) Long term study of the effects of space radiation and mitigation methods beyond the protection provided by the Van Allen belts
2) Direct teleoperation of rovers on the Lunar Surface
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline notsorandom

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1708
  • Ohio
  • Liked: 398
  • Likes Given: 90
It appears to be a less capable version of the ISS, but in a far more remote (and expensive) location.

How does this help us get to Mars, which is NASA's current internal goal?
A cis-lunar habitat capable of long duration autonomous flight is basically a Mars transfer vehicle without a propulsion system. Gaining experience building and operating a habitat in cis-lunar space directly feeds into knowing how to build and operate a Mars transfer vehicle. ISS is not as good of an analog. It needs resupply every few weeks and is in a different space environment.

Offline RocketmanUS

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2226
  • USA
  • Liked: 71
  • Likes Given: 31
Quote from article-
"Since its inception, critics of SLS have routinely repeated the mantra of “no missions” for the largest Heavy Lift Vehicle thus-far built."

Vulcan Aces could also deliver Orion to an EML-2 station if it is built. Still no need for this over sized vehicle and another yearly overhead. The HLV was sold to Americans for Mars and Lunar, not EML-2 or asteroid missions. SLS is for very wide body payloads that the smaller launchers could not deliver if we ever have such a payload beyond 8 meter diameter.

An EML-2 station is a good idea. As long as it does not get in the way of getting people to the surface of Mars. Let's be smart and use Vulcan ACES to get Orion to EML-2 and or FH Dragon V2 to get crew and supplies to an EML-2 station. Both are to be commercial launch vehicle with their yearly overhead payed for by the other launches needed or wanted in the commercial sector and or other government launches.

Any idea on what launch vehicle would be used to send Cygnus to EML-2?

Rocketman, don't dispair, this is a slow walk evolution to either a lunar base or trip to Mars.  slowly build up the idea and at some point someone somenwhere will say, 'Ghee all we need is a lander'

I for one am very happy with the Lunar emphasis.  Yes we all want to get to Mars, but the moon is so much closer and easier.  Humans on Mars is still 20+ years away, best to get past LEO and baby step from there.
Not against EML-2 base, I'm for it but not with SLS.

Mars should not be 20+ years away as we have heard this for to many decades.

Finally we are getting closer to something that makes sense. 

Orion and SLS have a destination and a more meaningful mission than the unexciting asteroid thing that has almost no traction.

How is floating around in a "stationary" tin can in cis-lunar space more exciting than visiting a 5m boulder plunked off an asteroid?

1) Long term study of the effects of space radiation and mitigation methods beyond the protection provided by the Van Allen belts
2) Direct teleoperation of rovers on the Lunar Surface

That is good plus other reasons.

Use it to store reusable Lunar landers. Might help economically for commercial for their lander.
Study plant growth outside LEO.
Assemble a crew Mars craft. Departing from EML-2 could save travel time to Mars.
Could give reason for commercial to develop space craft for BLEO cargo and crew.
« Last Edit: 05/19/2016 08:58 PM by RocketmanUS »

Offline TrevorMonty

There are two versions of DSH proposed, a long term habitat with closed circuit ECLSS for mars missions. The EAM exploration augmentation module which uses open circuit ECLSS or relies on Orion to provide it, for short term stays ie 60days.
A stretched version of Cygnus as EAM should be straight forward, would need to using a docking port.

This EAM could be tested in LEO using a commercial crew vehicle, crew dock with EAM after or before ISS mission.

I don't see any commercial uses in cislunar space for a while,  but in LEO it could be used as commercial short stay station.

The Cygnus does have flight proven HSF rating, which is a huge plus compared to competition.

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3921
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2607
  • Likes Given: 3342
It appears to be a less capable version of the ISS, but in a far more remote (and expensive) location.

How does this help us get to Mars, which is NASA's current internal goal?
A cis-lunar habitat capable of long duration autonomous flight is basically a Mars transfer vehicle without a propulsion system. Gaining experience building and operating a habitat in cis-lunar space directly feeds into knowing how to build and operate a Mars transfer vehicle.

What I am concerned about is a lack of a detailed plan.  And by plan I mean a detailed list of technologies and techniques that need to be developed and proven before going to Mars, and a rough budget for accomplishing that in a number of different ways.

And instead of this piecemeal development approach, the President and Congress should agree on the overall plan and the initial funding that will start it.

Quote
ISS is not as good of an analog. It needs resupply every few weeks and is in a different space environment.

Actually it doesn't need to be resupplied every few weeks, as the Orbital & SpaceX CRS accidents showed.  They can store quite a bit of supplies on the ISS.  Plus you can park cargo modules full of supplies at the ISS just like they propose for this hab.

I'm not sure I understand the ROI of this yet - what is being tested that can only be done in this way.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online JazzFan

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 204
  • Florida
  • Liked: 25
  • Likes Given: 12
Finally we are getting closer to something that makes sense. 

Orion and SLS have a destination and a more meaningful mission than the unexciting asteroid thing that has almost no traction.

How is floating around in a "stationary" tin can* in cis-lunar space more exciting than visiting a 5m boulder plunked off an asteroid?

*Hyperbole added to reflect what the general public's opinion might be.


IMO this station would be a great place to bring the asteroid sample TO (and perhaps multiples), it opens the door to commercial and international use, however slim the business case might be.


It is not as exiting but has a far greater chance of suceeding than capturing an asteroid.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8396
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 313
  • Likes Given: 135
Orion and SLS have a destination and a more meaningful mission than the unexciting asteroid thing that has almost no traction.

I would think SLS and Orion supporters would not be rejecting any ideas that use the SLS and Orion...

Quote
The 'hab' discussion is an exciting development.

Why?

What does a cislunar habitat do for the U.S. Taxpayer?

It appears to be a less capable version of the ISS, but in a far more remote (and expensive) location.

How does this help us get to Mars, which is NASA's current internal goal?

And if it doesn't help us to directly get to Mars, what explicit political goal is needed to justify such a sustained operation as this demands?  Because flying the government-owned SLS frequently just to move cargo and crew back and forth in cislunar space seems like a waste of money after all the effort NASA has put into Commercial Cargo and Crew.  It would certainly look like a backwards step.

A spacestation at EML-2 (or EML-1) is where the Mars Transfer Vehicles (MTV) return to. Only small capsules have heat shields able to perform Earth reentry, so the rest of a very expensive vehicle would be thrown away. An EML-1/2 to LEO flight needs more propellant than the trip back from Mars.

The returning Mars astronauts and sample rocks move to a capsule for the final part of the trip home.

The MTV can then be inspected and serviced at the EML-2 spacestation permitting reuse. Chemical MTV are then be provisioned, refuelled and sent back to Mars with a new crew. The SEP tugs given a new cargo and propellant and sent on their way.

p.s. The spacestation would spend the rest of its time providing similar services to the lunar landers.
« Last Edit: 05/20/2016 03:41 AM by A_M_Swallow »

Tags: