Author Topic: Can NASA fly an Earth (LEO) Gateway Spacestation by 2020 for $6 Billion?  (Read 3553 times)

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8182
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 107
President Trump appears to want his own prestigious space project. My suggestion is a LEO Gateway Spacestation. At $2 Billion a year the extra money is large, allowing NASA to retain many people, but not so large as to make the project politically impossible.

A LEO Gateway Spacestation can act as an interchange between the Commercial Crew Programs and transfer vehicles going to lunar orbit and Mars orbit. In lunar orbit astronauts could transfer to lunar landers at the cis-lunar Gateway.

I assume the LEO Gateway would act as a prototype for the cis-lunar Gateway, whilst being sufficiently close to Earth that repairs and escape are possible. The Orion spacecraft could be used as the escape pod.

The 3 year time scale (2020 - 2017 = 3) puts major limitations on what is possible. As much as possible things will have to be purchased off the shelf rather than designed from scratch.

A basic spacestation is going to need a habitation module with full ECLSS (life support) and station keeping thrusters.

A full Gateway will need
* at least 4 docking ports:
** Earth to LEO astronauts docking port,
** Earth to LEO cargo berthing port,
** LEO to cis-lunar transfer vehicle docking port,
** escape pod docking port.
* an arm to move cargo and perform repairs
* depot functions, including refuelling, for transfer vehicles
* construction, repair and maintenance facilities for transfer vehicles
* possible science lab and racks
* long range communications and homing beacon.

Only one of the full facilities would be needed when the station goes online. The rest can be added when needed.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27033
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6927
  • Likes Given: 4888
It's called a space station, and Gerst said NASA wouldn't have another one in LEO, but would like to partner with commercial companies who want to orbit one.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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 RonM

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2150
  • Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • Liked: 1017
  • Likes Given: 792
We already have a LEO space station.

How about improvements to ISS that can stay in orbit after ISS is retired, such as a Bigelow module? Give a private space station a head start.

Offline blasphemer

  • Member
  • Posts: 87
  • Slovakia
  • Liked: 28
  • Likes Given: 117
Private launches are step one, private space stations are step two. Soon there will be no need for NASA space station, just like there is little need for SLS.


Let NASA concentrate on actual cutting edge stuff, such as advanced deep space payloads and technologies.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8182
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 107
We already have a LEO space station.

How about improvements to ISS that can stay in orbit after ISS is retired, such as a Bigelow module? Give a private space station a head start.

The ISS is a research station used for micro-gravity experiments. Big bangs and vibrations, such as a spacecraft docking, are minimised. A Gateway can expect many dockings and departures.

I suspect that a Bigelow module would make a good habitat module for the spacestation. Probably for round about $1 billion. Could it be available within about 3 years?

What other functions can be provided within the time and budgetary restrictions?

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8182
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 107
It's called a space station, and Gerst said NASA wouldn't have another one in LEO, but would like to partner with commercial companies who want to orbit one.

So a COTS style development rather than SLS style. If NASA puts up half the money and has plans to become the anchor tenant I am sure many companies will be happy to be the prime contractor.

Offline RonM

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2150
  • Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • Liked: 1017
  • Likes Given: 792
We already have a LEO space station.

How about improvements to ISS that can stay in orbit after ISS is retired, such as a Bigelow module? Give a private space station a head start.

The ISS is a research station used for micro-gravity experiments. Big bangs and vibrations, such as a spacecraft docking, are minimised. A Gateway can expect many dockings and departures.

I suspect that a Bigelow module would make a good habitat module for the spacestation. Probably for round about $1 billion. Could it be available within about 3 years?

What other functions can be provided within the time and budgetary restrictions?

Robert Bigelow said two B330 should be ready by the end of 2020. One would be enough for a beginning commercial station. Add a node module with extra docking ports and a robotic arm. Two launches meets your requirements, except for the fuel depot part.

Online Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3455
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2209
  • Likes Given: 2733
President Trump appears to want his own prestigious space project.

What any President wants, for the most part, doesn't matter. Congress creates the spending bills, Presidents only sign them.

Trump could propose something to Congress for them to consider, but at this point the FY2018 budget request from the Administration has already been made, and Trump did not request such a thing.

However, as is his wont, Trump could suddenly decide that the budget his Administration put together for NASA was wrong (##insert department to blame here##) and that he really did want NASA to do "something historic" in his first term. Congress will need specific direction though (you know, details and such), and there will need to be specific point people in NASA (like a NASA Administrator), the House, and the Senate to shepherd the legislation thru Congress and to the President's desk for signing.

I'm not thinking the odds of that happening are high...
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 MATTBLAK

  • Elite Veteran & 'J.A.F.A'
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3848
  • 'Space Cadets' Let us; UNITE!! (crickets chirping)
  • New Zealand
  • Liked: 765
  • Likes Given: 1443
We already have a LEO space station.

How about improvements to ISS that can stay in orbit after ISS is retired, such as a Bigelow module? Give a private space station a head start.
I want ISS to continue after 2024 - as I'm sure most of us do. However, there will come a time when the big solar arrays will have lost sufficient potency, the coolant systems will have degraded and the metal fatigue of the modules from all those dockings, reboosts and thermal cycles will begin to add up. A good spin-off thread might be how to repair and upgrade ISS for 2028 and beyond. New-build solar array sets made predominantly of gallium-arsenide so they can be a little smaller - and launched on Commercial rockets with bigger payload fairings? New technology coolant systems? New technology battery sets? New tech seals for docking mechanisms and interfaces...?

...Or cheaper just to use a set of Commercial Space inflatables, rigids and power systems? Or just pay Russia to build a sort of Mir Version 2.5/3.0? (Heh - not if you want it quickly...;) :()
« Last Edit: 06/08/2017 12:36 AM by MATTBLAK »
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

Online AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4969
  • Liked: 2965
  • Likes Given: 4189
Probably not, according to Acting Administrator Lightfoot:
Quote
Rep. Dunn (R-FL) asks for a primer on the Deep Space Gateway. Lightfoot gives overview, notes itís still in concept stage.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/872832633964822528

Going from concept to contract to cutting metal to deployment is a long, long process.  Suspect that NASA will not be cutting metal on any gateway (Deep Space or Not Deep Space) before 2020.

Anyway, what SLS would launch it before 2020?
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8182
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 107
Probably not, according to Acting Administrator Lightfoot:
Quote
Rep. Dunn (R-FL) asks for a primer on the Deep Space Gateway. Lightfoot gives overview, notes itís still in concept stage.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/872832633964822528

Going from concept to contract to cutting metal to deployment is a long, long process.  Suspect that NASA will not be cutting metal on any gateway (Deep Space or Not Deep Space) before 2020.

Anyway, what SLS would launch it before 2020?

For a program that has been running since 2014 I would have hoped that NASA was a little further along than that.
https://www.nasa.gov/nextstep

On March 30, 2015, NASA announced the selection of 12 NextSTEP partnerships.

On August 09, 2016 - NextSTEP-2 Selections were released. They were given "up to approximately 24 months to develop ground prototypes and/or conduct concept studies for deep space habitats".

So in 2020 the prototype habitat modules could be launched to LEO on ordinary launch vehicles. When all the new equipment has been debugged the Deep Space Gateway can be sent to cislunar orbit a few years later using the SLS.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31351
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 9628
  • Likes Given: 299

For a program that has been running since 2014 I would have hoped that NASA was a little further along than that.


Really? It has been explained before, just because NASA performs a study on something (LSAM, unmanned lunar landers (Morpheus on the moon), SEV, DSH, etc) doesn't mean that NASA is going ahead and doing it.  More often than not, the studies lead nowhere.

There are many indicators that show that NASA is going ahead with a project, such as specific budget line items, budget direction, a program office, a project offices, RFP's, project websites with detail, etc. None of which exist for DSH.   Many of indictators would be easily found on the web but even more so it goes without saying, there would be a huge presence of the project on NASASpaceflight.com. 
« Last Edit: 06/08/2017 10:17 PM by Jim »

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8182
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 107

For a program that has been running since 2014 I would have hoped that NASA was a little further along than that.


Really? It has been explained before, just because NASA performs a study on something (LSAM, unmanned lunar landers (Morpheus on the moon), SEV, DSH, etc) doesn't mean that NASA is going ahead and doing it.  More often than not, the studies lead nowhere.

There are many indicators that show that NASA is going ahead with a project, such as specific budget line items, budget direction, a program office, a project offices, RFP's, project websites with detail, etc. None of which exist for DSH.   Many of indictators would be easily found on the web but even more so it goes without saying, there would be a huge presence of the project on NASASpaceflight.com. 

NextSTEP-2 is slightly more complicated than that "... covering work in 2016 and 2017, will be approximately $65 million, ..."

NextSTEP-3 FY2019 should have its own line item.

Online AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4969
  • Liked: 2965
  • Likes Given: 4189
NASA probably could buy a turn-key, delivered to orbit Bigelow module like B330 for 10% of your proposed budget, and have the keys by 2020.  Won't happen, though, because it gives no work to Goddard or other Centers and no payload(s) to SLS.

Bigelow will probably do it anyway, with or without NASA.  At least they have said they would.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8182
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 107
NASA probably could buy a turn-key, delivered to orbit Bigelow module like B330 for 10% of your proposed budget, and have the keys by 2020.  Won't happen, though, because it gives no work to Goddard or other Centers and no payload(s) to SLS.

Bigelow will probably do it anyway, with or without NASA.  At least they have said they would.

A B330 is just the habitat. The rest of the Gateway needs developing.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8182
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 107
{snip}Won't happen, though, because it gives no work to Goddard or other Centers and no payload(s) to SLS.
{snip}

SLS is the heavy cargo lifter, so its main payload will be the Moon base to LEO. Mars is too many years in the future even for SLS.

Goddard may have found its own job FabLab - the NextSTEP In-Space Manufacturing (ISM) Multi-material Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab)
Solicitation Number: NNHZCQ001K-ISM-FabLab reply address is
" Contracting Office Address:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Headquarters Acquisition Branch, Code 210.H
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771
United States "

For the rest of NASA - What do you want to do on the Moon?

Online Space Ghost 1962

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2481
  • Whatcha gonna do when the Ghost zaps you?
  • Liked: 2380
  • Likes Given: 1742
Why would NASA want something useless and unneeded, at a time when budgets will be tight?

This one is even nuttier than the usual space cadet "build it from space legos" programs.

If you'd bother to listen to the point of the study (instead of snapping together parts as if that in any way makes it more likely that "something will be done" when it clearly won't), DST/DSH/DSG all share something in common.

They would be intended to be "lithe". A word that cannot be used when describing things like the ISS or Bigelow modules (which by the way am tired of hearing trotted out, as if it matters at all).

Anything you're going to potentially use to transit to solar system objects has to be accelerated/decelerated substantially, including a DSG that might end up as a terminus for a DST at such bodies. More mass means more propulsion, and propulsion is the limiting factor both for the scope of the exploration and the transit time (consumables, radiation) to perform the mission.

So a merry kludge of OTS parts drags along too much mass (all loss) for no gain. There won't be any Bigelow modules because the design doesn't belong in the concept! This, as an example of a hundred other things also inappropriate for such a mission architecture.

Bringing this back down to LEO in the OP here, the problem grows more. DSG as in a NRO makes some sense as the departing terminus for solar system HSF, because your "delta v cost" to depart/arrive matches efficient propulsion systems that we have to begin a high C3 mission from. But there's no sense in having a dedicated LEO gateway, because you either have to have a huge amount of propellant (with a propulsion system to receive it), or you spiral out to the Moon like DRO, and you're back to the proposal.

You can use ISS to validate DSG/DSH/DST before spiraling it out - that's about it. Anything else for a LEO station is likely a commercial venture of some sort.

And if we are talking about propellant/consumables (re)supply architectures, those don't require any kind of station.

Its not about stations, its about the right vehicles, propulsion, logistics, and mission architecture to do exploration.

Hotels in space are a different matter. Please don't combine the two to imagine an advantage. Actually a disadvantage, you'd make things slow down not speed up.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8182
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 107
I assume people to the Moon will use rocket engines where as heavy cargo will spiral out. A 25 tonne lunar building can wait.

The ISS is a laboratory rather than grand central station. Approximately weekly docking by people, cargo and fuel will not be popular. Where as a LEO station will not be doing anything else.

Reusable lunar landers will need parking somewhere. The easiest place is the Gateway spacestation. The landers will need refuelling and probably repairing.

Weight wise the B330 is not that different from an Orion but is designed for longer stays.

Offline TakeOff

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
  • Liked: 74
  • Likes Given: 97
NASA cannot even launch Orion with a three week lifetime in 2020. And they've spent decades and $40 billion on that. The "Gateway" is bureaucratic fantasy talk and will never happen. Private space is already making NASA HSF completely obsolete.


The "Gateway" will be placed in a bad orbit. No natural radiation protection. Longer, more expensive and more dangerous crew launches to and from it. And that for no reason at all, it is a Gateway to a Blind Alley that even in theory could not be in operation before 2040 and then with only rare brief visits from any crew. And NASA's must abolish Planetary Science and Astrophysics to spend their money on it for the next quarter of a century. It would be a dramatic downgrade from the ISS. China's next space station in a few years will be much more capable than this "Gateway" idea.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2017 09:26 AM by TakeOff »

Tags: