Author Topic: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]  (Read 8569 times)

Offline mordroberon

  • Member
  • Posts: 20
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 29
Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« on: 01/12/2024 04:10 am »
Forgive me if this isnít the right forum for the topic, also tried to do a search and didnít see any threads on this.

Basically, a huge sticking point in the Artemis program seems to be criticism of HLS needing to refuel in LEO, both spacex and BO have proposals to this effect. But what if this was only a one time cost. A reusable lander, that moves between the lunar surface and lunar gateway would only need to be flown out once. And if the logistics of mining lunar ice, separating out the Os from the Hs and using that as rocket fuel, can be worked out, all the better.

It seems like a no-brainer to me if thereís going to be any sort of sustained presence on the moon. But it doesnít look like NASA is actively making such a lander a priority. Is this because they think itís too hard? Does the politics of getting some boots on the moon ASAP make this a low priority?

Online yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17363
  • Liked: 7182
  • Likes Given: 3081
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #1 on: 01/12/2024 01:08 pm »
Forgive me if this isnít the right forum for the topic, also tried to do a search and didnít see any threads on this.

Basically, a huge sticking point in the Artemis program seems to be criticism of HLS needing to refuel in LEO, both spacex and BO have proposals to this effect. But what if this was only a one time cost. A reusable lander, that moves between the lunar surface and lunar gateway would only need to be flown out once. And if the logistics of mining lunar ice, separating out the Os from the Hs and using that as rocket fuel, can be worked out, all the better.

It seems like a no-brainer to me if thereís going to be any sort of sustained presence on the moon. But it doesnít look like NASA is actively making such a lander a priority. Is this because they think itís too hard? Does the politics of getting some boots on the moon ASAP make this a low priority?

That's essentially what Blue will be doing, their refilling is in NRHO. NASA encourages reusability but it isn't a requirement. The lander needs to be sustainable and reusability helps in that respect. NASA wanted the providers to make their own decisions as to how to build a sustainable lander.

Online catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11962
  • Enthusiast since the Redstones
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 9590
  • Likes Given: 8205
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #2 on: 01/12/2024 05:50 pm »
Forgive me if this isnít the right forum for the topic, also tried to do a search and didnít see any threads on this.

..........


mordroberon
You haven't been formally welcomed yet.  You have posted some well-thought-out posts and we welcome good posters.  Welcome to the forum.
Best
Tony
« Last Edit: 01/12/2024 05:51 pm by catdlr »
It's Tony De La Rosa, ...I don't create this stuff, I just report it.

Offline deltaV

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2266
  • Change in velocity
  • Liked: 674
  • Likes Given: 2444
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #3 on: 01/12/2024 11:13 pm »
Reuse usually only beats expendable if you have a relatively high flight rate. Artemis lunar landers will only be used less than once per year so expendable may actually be cheaper.

Online yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17363
  • Liked: 7182
  • Likes Given: 3081
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #4 on: 01/13/2024 06:12 pm »
Reuse usually only beats expendable if you have a relatively high flight rate. Artemis lunar landers will only be used less than once per year so expendable may actually be cheaper.

It depends if they are used for private lunar surface missions. Both companies have been kind of quiet on what their plans are for private missions. There is also HDL missions (essentially the cargo version of HLS) but there is not that many of those. Elon Musk did say yesterday that Starship could enable a permanently occupied lunar base (he compared it to Moonbase Alpha).
« Last Edit: 01/13/2024 06:12 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8904
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 10260
  • Likes Given: 11986
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #5 on: 01/13/2024 08:04 pm »
...
Basically, a huge sticking point in the Artemis program seems to be criticism of HLS needing to refuel in LEO, both spacex and BO have proposals to this effect.

I don't think this is a "sticking point", since NASA has willingly embraced in-space refueling as the only way to achieve the goals of the Artemis program. It is a matter of physics, not policy, that mandates in-space refueling because the SLS is too small (i.e. not powerful enough), and the goals of the Artemis program have expanded beyond what the Apollo program could do with a single gigantic launcher.

Quote
It seems like a no-brainer to me if thereís going to be any sort of sustained presence on the moon. But it doesnít look like NASA is actively making such a lander a priority. Is this because they think itís too hard? Does the politics of getting some boots on the moon ASAP make this a low priority?

Actually NASA has no choice but to embrace a lander design that requires some degree of in-space refueling. Again, it is the physics of the equation that mandate this, not politics.

However if you ascribe to the philosophy that the Artemis program was created, at least in part, in order to give the disposable SLS and Orion hardware systems something to do, then it becomes clearer to see that the Artemis goals don't really lean into the possibilities of how in-space refueling can lower the overall cost of moving mass & people in space, and actually allow for more than one mission per year.

NASA gives lip service to making space exploration more affordable, yet their latest Mars architecture completely ignores reusable space transportation systems, and focuses only on disposable ones.
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 yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17363
  • Liked: 7182
  • Likes Given: 3081
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #6 on: 01/13/2024 08:20 pm »
However if you ascribe to the philosophy that the Artemis program was created, at least in part, in order to give the disposable SLS and Orion hardware systems something to do, then it becomes clearer to see that the Artemis goals don't really lean into the possibilities of how in-space refueling can lower the overall cost of moving mass & people in space, and actually allow for more than one mission per year.

NASA gives lip service to making space exploration more affordable, yet their latest Mars architecture completely ignores reusable space transportation systems, and focuses only on disposable ones.

Artemis wasn't created to give SLS and Orion something to do. Artemis was created in order to return to the Moon on a long term and sustained basis and in that process, it inherited SLS and Orion. The asteroid redirect mission was created in order to give SLS and Orion something to do (that mission doesn't really need humans). You can argue that Gateway was also created because of Orion. But the Moon has always been a destination in and of itself.

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8904
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 10260
  • Likes Given: 11986
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #7 on: 01/13/2024 08:36 pm »
However if you ascribe to the philosophy that the Artemis program was created, at least in part, in order to give the disposable SLS and Orion hardware systems something to do, then it becomes clearer to see that the Artemis goals don't really lean into the possibilities of how in-space refueling can lower the overall cost of moving mass & people in space, and actually allow for more than one mission per year.

NASA gives lip service to making space exploration more affordable, yet their latest Mars architecture completely ignores reusable space transportation systems, and focuses only on disposable ones.
Artemis wasn't created to give SLS and Orion something to do.

So apparently you don't ascribe the philosophy I outlined above? You could have just said that...  ;)

Quote
Artemis was created in order to return to the Moon on a long term and sustained basis and in that process, it inherited SLS and Orion.

Well the "long term" part is certainly true, given the latest Artemis II & III schedule slips.  :D

But the SLS+Orion are not, in any way, part of some "sustainable" mission architecture. The SLS is the most expensive disposable rocket in human history, and now NASA is proposing to EXCLUSIVELY use the SLS to support a mission to Mars. Ignoring the vast and growing fleet of far less costly transportation systems proves that politics is what governs NASA's exploration programs, not some desire to figure out how to create "sustainable" exploration methods.

And all of this just reinforces the reason why NASA needs to transition to a space exploration architecture that is reusable and relies on in-space refueling. NASA's current Moon goals can't be achieved without reusable & refuelable transportation systems, and the SLS+Orion at the most expensive part of NASA's exploration budgets - meaning that any normal program would look to the highest cost center to figure out how to redesign their system to reduce costs, but Congress (i.e. politics) won't allow that.

Which means that NASA PR is telling a lie when it says that it wants to create a "sustainable" exploration program, because cost is not part of what NASA is allowed to control.
« Last Edit: 01/14/2024 11:02 pm by Coastal Ron »
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 VSECOTSPE

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1526
  • Liked: 4833
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #8 on: 01/13/2024 09:35 pm »
Artemis wasn't created to give SLS and Orion something to do. Artemis was created in order to return to the Moon on a long term and sustained basis and in that process, it inherited SLS and Orion.

If Artemis was intended to be long-term and sustained, then it wouldnít be stuck with Orion/SLS.

Offline sdsds

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7221
  • ďWith peace and hope for all mankind.Ē
  • Seattle
  • Liked: 2072
  • Likes Given: 1978
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #9 on: 01/13/2024 09:35 pm »
An informal survey of views expressed by spaceflight analysts and enthusiasts confirms the vast majority believe reusable hardware will become the norm for the boost phase of launch ascent. Similarly for the crew return phase of crewed flight, the consensus is that reusable vehicles will provide superior results.

There seems to be less consensus regarding hardware for upper stages of launch ascent ó and for in-space propulsion and crew habitation ó particularly for lunar destinations. In particular it's plausible two launches of a vehicle as small as Falcon Heavy could support a lunar surface flag-and-footprints mission using an LOR-LOR architecture.
ó 𝐬𝐝𝐒𝐝𝐬 ó

Online yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17363
  • Liked: 7182
  • Likes Given: 3081
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #10 on: 01/13/2024 11:06 pm »
Artemis wasn't created to give SLS and Orion something to do. Artemis was created in order to return to the Moon on a long term and sustained basis and in that process, it inherited SLS and Orion.

If Artemis was intended to be long-term and sustained, then it wouldnít be stuck with Orion/SLS.

Like I said Artemis inherited SLS and Orion, not using them wasn't an option as Bridenstine found out with his exchanges with Senator Shelby.
« Last Edit: 01/14/2024 08:38 pm by yg1968 »

Online yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17363
  • Liked: 7182
  • Likes Given: 3081
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #11 on: 01/13/2024 11:18 pm »
Which means that NASA PR is telling a lie when it says that it wants to create a "sustainable" exploration program, because cost is not part of what NASA is allowed to control.

NASA is essentially forced by Congress to use SLS and Orion. NASA can control costs for certain Artemis programs by creating services-fixed price contracts but SLS and Orion costs are harder to control because that model isn't followed. In any event, almost all Artemis programs (HLS, Spacesuits, CLPS, the upcoming LTV) that were created followed the services-fixed price model, so that is huge progress. Artemis is a lot more than just SLS and Orion. Presumably, the fact that NASA is using public private partnerships for HLS means that there will eventually be commercial HLV and spacecraft alternatives (such as crewed Starship) to SLS and Orion which will be used for private lunar surface missions.
« Last Edit: 01/14/2024 01:12 am by yg1968 »

Offline VSECOTSPE

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1526
  • Liked: 4833
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #12 on: 01/14/2024 06:32 pm »
Like I said Artemis inherited SLS and Orion, not using them wasn't option as Bridenstine found out with his exchanges with Senator Shelby.

Sure, but thatís doesnít change the multiple negative impacts of Orion/SLS on Artemis.  Either decision makers and leadership are serious enough about Artemis to enable and procure the crew transport necessary for it to succeed.  Or itís just a sub-Apollo flags and footprints adjunct to a jobs program that should be terminated as soon as politically feasible.  Shelby is gone, so that excuse doesnít work anymore.  At some point, someone should try again to fix the program.  Probably not under Nelson/Free, but at some point.

NASA can control costs for certain Artemis programs by creating services-fixed price contracts but SLS and Orion costs are harder to control because that model isn't followed.

Even if their costs were reasonable and under control, Orion/SLS are still albatrosses for Artemis in terms of their capability (flight rate) and safety (LOC figures, workforce skills retention, complex/changing configurations).  Lack of affordability and budget is actually about third down the list of reasons why Artemis needs an exit ramp off Orion/SLS.

FWIW...

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8904
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 10260
  • Likes Given: 11986
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #13 on: 01/14/2024 11:25 pm »
Which means that NASA PR is telling a lie when it says that it wants to create a "sustainable" exploration program, because cost is not part of what NASA is allowed to control.
NASA is essentially forced by Congress to use SLS and Orion.

Which everyone knows (or should know).

Quote
NASA can control costs for certain Artemis programs by creating services-fixed price contracts but SLS and Orion costs are harder to control because that model isn't followed.

Which is why NASA's PR is lying about NASA creating a "sustainable" exploration program, since they know that the SLS+Orion make it impossible for Artemis missions to be "sustainable".

Obviously the U.S. Government can afford to spend the ~$50B on developing the SLS+Orion, and the U.S. Government can afford to spend the $Billions that it takes to launch them on each mission. But that doesn't make them "sustainable".

The SLS+Orion are not driving down the cost to expand humanity into space.

The other elements of the Artemis program are attempting to lower the cost to expand humanity into space. But because the SLS+Orion limit the pace of activity the Artemis program can achieve, they eliminate the ability for NASA to lower the cost to expand humanity out into space. Which is why the Artemis program is not "sustainable".
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 yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17363
  • Liked: 7182
  • Likes Given: 3081
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #14 on: 01/15/2024 01:21 am »
Which means that NASA PR is telling a lie when it says that it wants to create a "sustainable" exploration program, because cost is not part of what NASA is allowed to control.
NASA is essentially forced by Congress to use SLS and Orion.

Which everyone knows (or should know).

Quote
NASA can control costs for certain Artemis programs by creating services-fixed price contracts but SLS and Orion costs are harder to control because that model isn't followed.

Which is why NASA's PR is lying about NASA creating a "sustainable" exploration program, since they know that the SLS+Orion make it impossible for Artemis missions to be "sustainable".

Sustainable just means that it continues over a long period of time, it doesn't necessarily mean cheap. In any event, if SLS and Orion with HLS transports 4 astronauts per year to the surface of the Moon and crewed Starship carries private lunar missions with private citizens and other governments as customers, you might be able to have a permanently occupied lunar base as Elon Musk suggested in his SpaceX press conference of last week. Getting NASA to use the cargo versions of HLS-Starship and of the Blue Moon lander to stock pile enough cargo to the Moon would be helpful in that respect. 
« Last Edit: 01/15/2024 01:34 am by yg1968 »

Offline thespacecow

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 221
  • e/acc
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 52
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #15 on: 01/15/2024 03:54 am »
Basically, a huge sticking point in the Artemis program seems to be criticism of HLS needing to refuel in LEO, both spacex and BO have proposals to this effect.

There is no such sticking point. What you're referring to as "criticism" is just haters trying to spread FUD about SpaceX and Musk, the "criticism" will go away as soon as SpaceX demonstrated orbital refueling and high launch cadence, and the tone will be changed to "this is nothing special, SpaceX didn't figure out how to do something that has never been done before, it's all old tech that has been done many times before".

Basically according these people, anything SpaceX has not accomplished is impossible, and everything SpaceX has accomplished has already been done before by someone else. There's nothing worth serious discussion here.


Quote
But what if this was only a one time cost. A reusable lander, that moves between the lunar surface and lunar gateway would only need to be flown out once. And if the logistics of mining lunar ice, separating out the Os from the Hs and using that as rocket fuel, can be worked out, all the better.

I don't see how mining propellant on the Moon can be cheaper than launching them from Earth in the short term, but optimization like these should be left to the companies. If a company thinks mining is cheaper they are free to do that and bid a lower price for lunar transportation, that's how market is supposed to work. This is also why NASA buying service instead of dictating design is a good idea, it gives companies the freedom to implement whatever design they think is the best.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2024 03:59 am by thespacecow »

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8904
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 10260
  • Likes Given: 11986
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #16 on: 01/15/2024 05:38 am »
NASA can control costs for certain Artemis programs by creating services-fixed price contracts but SLS and Orion costs are harder to control because that model isn't followed.
Which is why NASA's PR is lying about NASA creating a "sustainable" exploration program, since they know that the SLS+Orion make it impossible for Artemis missions to be "sustainable".

Sustainable just means that it continues over a long period of time, it doesn't necessarily mean cheap.

We haven't set foot on the Moon in over 50 years. Know why?

It wasn't because we didn't have the technical ability, it was because the cost was too high, and the reward was too low.

What changed is that back in 2010 Congress authorized the building of the SLS & Orion, and then in 2017 President Trump wanted some grand event to happen by the end of his potential 2nd term in office, so the return to Moon program was created. Congress and the Trump Administration did not care about the cost to return to the Moon, and the actual cost is being ignored by Congress.

Why does this matter? Because it means that the Artemis program, as currently constituted, relies on the largess of Congress, and it requires Congress to not ask hard questions about the cost of the Artemis effort.

That is NOT sustainable, that is just lucky so far. But luck can change, as we saw with the Constellation program.

Quote
In any event, if SLS and Orion with HLS transports 4 astronauts per year to the surface of the Moon and crewed Starship carries private lunar missions with private citizens and other governments as customers, you might be able to have a permanently occupied lunar base as Elon Musk suggested in his SpaceX press conference of last week.

I saw the speech that Musk gave, and it was clear he was talking about the Artemis program goals of a permanent space outpost. He wasn't talking about SpaceX spending their own money, and in fact he was very clear about their Mars goals of creating a sustainable human presence on Mars.

Quote
Getting NASA to use the cargo versions of HLS-Starship and of the Blue Moon lander to stock pile enough cargo to the Moon would be helpful in that respect.

No, it wouldn't. Not if NASA is limited to using the SLS+Orion, because that transportation architecture can't support more than four people in space for more than a month - and NO BACKUP in case there is an accident, because the SLS is only planned to launch once per year.

The SLS+Orion throttle NASA's ability to do any human space exploration.

As to the thread topic, the current Starship HLS and eventual Blue Moon landers will provide NASA with far more capabilities than NASA will be able to use if they have to use the SLS+Orion to send humans into space.
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 DanClemmensen

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5703
  • Earth (currently)
  • Liked: 4462
  • Likes Given: 1864
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #17 on: 01/15/2024 02:36 pm »

As to the thread topic, the current Starship HLS and eventual Blue Moon landers will provide NASA with far more capabilities than NASA will be able to use if they have to use the SLS+Orion to send humans into space.
Not quite true. Only true if they are also prohibited from using a "backup" alternative to SLS+Orion. They can keep using SLS+Orion at the lowest cadence Congress will tolerate, and use the "backup" to actually perform real missions.

Offline mordroberon

  • Member
  • Posts: 20
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 29
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #18 on: 01/15/2024 05:30 pm »
Reuse usually only beats expendable if you have a relatively high flight rate. Artemis lunar landers will only be used less than once per year so expendable may actually be cheaper.

Sadly, I think you're right. I just don't like the idea of littering the surface of the moon with billion-dollar hardware. With current Artemis plans, A2 in 2025 (doable), A3 in 2026 (probably not), the other Artemis missions focused on constructing the lunar gateway until Artemis 7. It seems likely to me that there will be more delays, a launch cadence of SLS of once per year is optimistic. If there's going to be a continuous presence on the moon it will be after the mid-2030s. At which point there may be an attempt at keeping a continuous presence on the moon, and rotations every 6 months or so. Until then, having a spacecraft out of reach of servicing for years at a time doesn't sound worthwhile

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8904
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 10260
  • Likes Given: 11986
Re: Reusable Lunar Lander [idea]
« Reply #19 on: 01/15/2024 05:47 pm »
As to the thread topic, the current Starship HLS and eventual Blue Moon landers will provide NASA with far more capabilities than NASA will be able to use if they have to use the SLS+Orion to send humans into space.
Not quite true. Only true if they are also prohibited from using a "backup" alternative to SLS+Orion. They can keep using SLS+Orion at the lowest cadence Congress will tolerate, and use the "backup" to actually perform real missions.

There is no evidence that Congress would fund NASA to create a second crew transportation system.

There is plenty of evidence that Congress is perfectly happy with the once a year mission cadence the SLS+Orion support.

So sure, while it may make sense to us to add more ways to move humans to the Moon, NASA is not funded to do that today, or the foreseeable future. Which is why I stated what I did above, that the current Starship HLS and Blue Moon landers provide far more capabilities than what NASA will need for the Artemis program.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Tags: Moon Artemis NASA SpaceX Idea 
 

Advertisement NovaTech
Advertisement Northrop Grumman
Advertisement
Advertisement Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island
Advertisement Brady Kenniston
Advertisement NextSpaceflight
Advertisement Nathan Barker Photography
0