Author Topic: Possible cost-reduction possibilities for the NASA portions of MSR  (Read 85299 times)

Offline mandrewa

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3) A large number of obligate anaerobic species exist on Earth, yes. But Earth has an oxygen atmosphere and oxygenated oceans, so they are limited to environments where they can escape oxygen. These environments are either tiny pockets or totally inaccessible to returning spacecraft (e.g. the deep subsurface).

There are anaerobic organisms in your gut.  There are anaerobic organisms in the dirt in your lawn.

If there's life on Mars I'm expecting it to be just like bacteria or archaea.  And in fact I would it expect to be descended from life on Earth.  The first 2 billion years of life on Earth was all anaerobic and it all seems to have been single-celled bacteria or archaea.

Or in other words these organisms are the right size to be inside a rock, to be knocked up into orbit by a big asteroid strike, and to eventually land on Mars.  We also know that some of these organisms can persist for very long periods of time without any metabolic activity, or in other words, they wait for the right environment to do something.

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2) Mars anaerobic life displacing Earth life is impossible on energy grounds, as I posted above. Any metabolism that uses chemistry available on Mars won't be competitive in Earth's chemical environment.

I'm wondering what you mean by that.

Why would an anerobe from Mars be unable to live in anerobic environments on Earth? 

Do you mean that the chemistry in Martian soil is so very different from what we find on Earth that it's unlikely that such a cell would ever find a compatible environment on Earth?

Offline deadman1204

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And I don't believe there is any chance of finding a Mars organism which could threaten Earth.

Well, yeah. It's impossible.

There may or may not be life on Mars, but there very certainly is not a major biosphere with macroscopic complex life. Pathogenicity is an adaptation - with no complex life forms w/ immune systems to attack, it won't exist.

Ecological threats are even more impossible - probably ruled out by physics, not just biology. Mars is essentially anoxic, so Mars life will either be anaerobic (thus incredibly uncompetitive in energy terms with aerobic life) or use an exotic oxidizer like perchlorate (which isn't widely available on Earth). Either way not remotely competitive.

This isn't sending rabbits to Australia; on this scale, Mediterranean Europe and Australia are essentially identical environments.

The scientific angle of planetary protection is more defensible, but still kind of obsolete with 21st century knowledge. With 1960s-1970s science, Earth contamination might be impossible to distinguish from native Mars life. It was really hard to study microorganisms you couldn't culture in a petri dish. But now we have metagenomics - direct genetic analysis of environmental samples. Either it fits on Earth's tree of life, or it doesn't.

But planetary protection got written into law in the 1960s, back when very little was actually known about DNA or exotic microbial metabolisms, and so we're stuck with it.
So NASA and most every biologist disagrees with you.
Yes there won't be a "mars plague" that makes people sick. But no scientist is concerned about a disease. They are concerned about some bacteria like thing that can survive on earth. That will displace earth life instead. Same basic idea of invasive species.

It seems you are unaware, but there is an awful lot of anaerobic life on earth, much of it obligately anaerobic. Lots of life has been shown to survive on the ISS. Earth life has been shown to be able to survive mars like conditions. Its not hard to imagine the reverse of that.

Not only does your argument ignore all science, its designed to frame planetary protection as a bad old thing which must be discarded to make way for the mars colonies that elon musk is going to build for you.

1) NASA is required to disagree with me, since planetary protection is written into the OST. That's law, not reality.

2) Mars anaerobic life displacing Earth life is impossible on energy grounds, as I posted above. Any metabolism that uses chemistry available on Mars won't be competitive in Earth's chemical environment.

3) A large number of obligate anaerobic species exist on Earth, yes. But Earth has an oxygen atmosphere and oxygenated oceans, so they are limited to environments where they can escape oxygen. These environments are either tiny pockets or totally inaccessible to returning spacecraft (e.g. the deep subsurface).

4) Certain life can survive for a while outside the ISS, yes. But tardigrades, microbes etc that  survive vacuum do so in a state of scambiosis (usually while dried - anhydrobiosis). They are not metabolizing, not really living. Life has to metabolize and reproduce to compete ecologically.

(There's an African fly larva that can survive being dipped in liquid nitrogen in its dried state, then revive when given water. But that doesn't mean it, or any life form, can metabolize/actively live at liquid nitrogen temperatures!)

5) I would believe the same thing if Elon Musk did not exist. It seems to be a result of the same energy logic that makes aerobic life utterly dominant on Earth. Aerobic lifeforms are capable of anaerobic metabolism (even our cells can use glycolysis) - but it is never the first choice, as it is horribly, horribly inefficient.
I'd ask for proof but it'd be incoherant and contradictory. I do love how you say that since nasa is "legally required" to disagree, thier opinion is worthless.
The hubris to say that you know better than NASA is well.... I needed a laugh.

This mars colonizing stuff is starting to feel a bit cultish. Anything that gets in the way must be buried under a pile of bs or just ignored.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 09:48 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline Vultur

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3) A large number of obligate anaerobic species exist on Earth, yes. But Earth has an oxygen atmosphere and oxygenated oceans, so they are limited to environments where they can escape oxygen. These environments are either tiny pockets or totally inaccessible to returning spacecraft (e.g. the deep subsurface).

There are anaerobic organisms in your gut.  There are anaerobic organisms in the dirt in your lawn.

If there's life on Mars I'm expecting it to be just like bacteria or archaea.  And in fact I would it expect to be descended from life on Earth.  The first 2 billion years of life on Earth was all anaerobic and it all seems to have been single-celled bacteria or archaea.

Or in other words these organisms are the right size to be inside a rock, to be knocked up into orbit by a big asteroid strike, and to eventually land on Mars.  We also know that some of these organisms can persist for very long periods of time without any metabolic activity, or in other words, they wait for the right environment to do something.

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2) Mars anaerobic life displacing Earth life is impossible on energy grounds, as I posted above. Any metabolism that uses chemistry available on Mars won't be competitive in Earth's chemical environment.

I'm wondering what you mean by that.

Why would an anerobe from Mars be unable to live in anerobic environments on Earth? 

Do you mean that the chemistry in Martian soil is so very different from what we find on Earth that it's unlikely that such a cell would ever find a compatible environment on Earth?

1) that is possible (while I am rather skeptical of the 'meteorite transfer of microbes' thing - a pretty big chain of improbabilities - it remains possible). But if it is true such microbes would be members of Earth's tree of life, really no different from endolithic microbes on Earth. When we dig on Earth we don't worry about endolithic microbes taking over some other part of the ecosystem. Nor do polar expeditions worry about bringing back dangerous endoliths.

2) That's a large part of it (things like perchlorate in Martian regolith) but not the whole of it. Mars clearly has, and has had for a very long time, vastly less liquid water than Earth- thus far less biological activity. There's a reason mainland species become invasive species on islands, and not the reverse. The same applies 1,000,000x more so from Mars to Earth.

But ultimately it doesn't matter - the requirements are legal/political.

The hubris to say that you know better than NASA is well.... I needed a laugh.

This mars colonizing stuff is starting to feel a bit cultish. Anything that gets in the way must be buried under a pile of bs or just ignored.

I am not saying I know better than NASA; I'm saying that the OST requires planetary protection to be in NASA's official stance, so this isn't actually about knowledge at all.

I don't appreciate your assuming my motives here. Planetary protection rules are an issue even for pure science missions going to potentially life bearing areas, and much more so for human exploration missions with no intent to colonize anything.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 11:39 pm by Vultur »

Offline Don2

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And I don't believe there is any chance of finding a Mars organism which could threaten Earth.

Well, yeah. It's impossible.

There may or may not be life on Mars, but there very certainly is not a major biosphere with macroscopic complex life. Pathogenicity is an adaptation - with no complex life forms w/ immune systems to attack, it won't exist.


Completely agree with you on this. However, the opinion that matters here is that of the National Academy of Sciences, and in one of their reports they stated that there is a threat. That ties NASA's hands. When you combine that report with the aftermath of the pandemic, then it creates real problems for sample return.

Offline Don2

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Imagine a Starship delivering 150 metric tons of payload to low Martian orbit in the early 2030s.
.
.

That doesn't help as much as you think. The really difficult and expensive parts of Mars sample return are the launch from the Martian surface to low mars orbit, and the planetary protection requirements which add mass and cost to many elements of the architecture. Landing anything on Mars is also quite hard, and the journey from low mars orbit to the Earth's surface also has challenges. Just getting from Earth to Mars orbit is really easy and cheap.

Let's put some numbers on that. MSR requires a Falcon Heavy launch for the sample return lander, and an Ariane 6 launch for the Earth return orbiter. That works out to about $500 million for launch in a $10 billion program, or 5%.

Two questions for the Starship fans on this thread. How much mass could Starship deliver to the Martian surface? And would it be possible for Starship to land on Mars and then return to low Mars orbit without refueling on the surface?

Offline thespacecow

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Please SpaceCow. Please explain how starship will address the huge amounts of basic issues I've described in the last several posts. Please address how starship makes this better. No one ever does, they just ignore all the problems starship creates. If you cannot explain why starship is a good option, this is just more starship fans inserting it into anything space because its starship! You have 99% of space internet for that already.

All that stuff is concern trolling, if we ignore HLS Option A/B award, you can ask the exact same questions about using Starship to land astronauts on the Moon (and return them to NRHO) and claim that is impossible, yet it is and NASA is spending $4B on it.

The difference between using Starship for HLS and using Starship for MSR is that Starship was not originally designed to do lunar landing, but it is specifically designed to be a Mars transportation system, using it for MSR is literally using it for what it is designed for. You think SpaceX hasn't thought about how to land Starship on Mars or return it to Earth when they designed the thing? Ridiculous.

Offline deadman1204

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Please SpaceCow. Please explain how starship will address the huge amounts of basic issues I've described in the last several posts. Please address how starship makes this better. No one ever does, they just ignore all the problems starship creates. If you cannot explain why starship is a good option, this is just more starship fans inserting it into anything space because its starship! You have 99% of space internet for that already.

All that stuff is concern trolling, if we ignore HLS Option A/B award, you can ask the exact same questions about using Starship to land astronauts on the Moon (and return them to NRHO) and claim that is impossible, yet it is and NASA is spending $4B on it.

The difference between using Starship for HLS and using Starship for MSR is that Starship was not originally designed to do lunar landing, but it is specifically designed to be a Mars transportation system, using it for MSR is literally using it for what it is designed for. You think SpaceX hasn't thought about how to land Starship on Mars or return it to Earth when they designed the thing? Ridiculous.
Still waiting for how starship solves any problems. We are on page 12, and you've yet to say how starship solves the msr isues without lots of pixie dust.
« Last Edit: 02/23/2024 05:25 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline Negan

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Please SpaceCow. Please explain how starship will address the huge amounts of basic issues I've described in the last several posts. Please address how starship makes this better. No one ever does, they just ignore all the problems starship creates. If you cannot explain why starship is a good option, this is just more starship fans inserting it into anything space because its starship! You have 99% of space internet for that already.

All that stuff is concern trolling, if we ignore HLS Option A/B award, you can ask the exact same questions about using Starship to land astronauts on the Moon (and return them to NRHO) and claim that is impossible, yet it is and NASA is spending $4B on it.

The difference between using Starship for HLS and using Starship for MSR is that Starship was not originally designed to do lunar landing, but it is specifically designed to be a Mars transportation system, using it for MSR is literally using it for what it is designed for. You think SpaceX hasn't thought about how to land Starship on Mars or return it to Earth when they designed the thing? Ridiculous.
Still waiting for how starship solves any problems. We are on page 12, and you've yet to say how starship solves the msr isues without lots of pixie dust.

Have Starship deliver the Sample return hardware to the surface. This gives the hardware less volume and mass constraints. Due to HLS (the human rated pixie dust), Starship has most of the technology to do this already in development. Looks like the plan to use helicopters to retrieve the samples so no long elevator ride needed. I'm sure you'll see popping a big access door as pixie dust, but at least it could be demonstrated on the unmanned HLS mission.

Offline deadman1204

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Please SpaceCow. Please explain how starship will address the huge amounts of basic issues I've described in the last several posts. Please address how starship makes this better. No one ever does, they just ignore all the problems starship creates. If you cannot explain why starship is a good option, this is just more starship fans inserting it into anything space because its starship! You have 99% of space internet for that already.

All that stuff is concern trolling, if we ignore HLS Option A/B award, you can ask the exact same questions about using Starship to land astronauts on the Moon (and return them to NRHO) and claim that is impossible, yet it is and NASA is spending $4B on it.

The difference between using Starship for HLS and using Starship for MSR is that Starship was not originally designed to do lunar landing, but it is specifically designed to be a Mars transportation system, using it for MSR is literally using it for what it is designed for. You think SpaceX hasn't thought about how to land Starship on Mars or return it to Earth when they designed the thing? Ridiculous.
Still waiting for how starship solves any problems. We are on page 12, and you've yet to say how starship solves the msr isues without lots of pixie dust.

Have Starship deliver the Sample return hardware to the surface. This gives the hardware less volume and mass constraints. Due to HLS (the human rated pixie dust), Starship has most of the technology to do this already in development. Looks like the plan to use helicopters to retrieve the samples so no long elevator ride needed. I'm sure you'll see popping a big access door as pixie dust, but at least it could be demonstrated on the unmanned HLS mission.
Sigh... one more time
HOW does starship deliver it to the surface? It has to land on a rocky field. Will it destroy itself? We use landing pads on earth for a reason. Will it tip over? Will the engines dig holes making it impossible for the ship to land standing up? Will debris destroy the engines causing it to fail its landing? You've got a couple landing legs on random rocky/sandy ground and hope for the best? Those 500tons won't apply alot of pressure or anything. Can starship land at a 5 degree angle? 10 degrees? 15 degrees? What if its tilted from a boulder under 1 leg? Will it tip over? What if it shifts? Will the legs collapse?

This of course assumes it can land there at all (big enough clear flat area that is close enough to try). Plus is able to have a small enough landing range without gps and other guidance. You can't send a dozen and hope for the best, cause you'd need to duplicate all the other msr stuff in each one.

As well, the mass constraints aren't about getting stuff to mars. They are mostly about getting stuff from mars into orbit and back to earth. Starship doesn't do a thing for any of that.
Theres an awful lot of wishing and hoping here. Assuming starship even can go to mars in the next 20 years, at best it will be a crap shoot to land in a rocky field. At worst it'll have a very high likelyhood of destroying itself.
Show me all those falcon 9 landings on boulder piles and lose ground that it might sink several feet into. Especially ones where its tilted at a 10 degree angle. Starship is much taller and hence far easier to tip over. HiRise (best camera in orbit) has a resolution of about half a meter. Which means from space, a solid field of half meter boulders would look safe. Good luck with your landing legs on that. You won't know until its too late.

Theres a laundry list of problems and risks starship adds. Net gain? Zero? Getting the stuff to mars was never the problem. Getting it OFF OF MARS was always the sticking point. It may be hard to believe, but starship doesn't solve all problems.
« Last Edit: 02/23/2024 09:38 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline Negan

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Please SpaceCow. Please explain how starship will address the huge amounts of basic issues I've described in the last several posts. Please address how starship makes this better. No one ever does, they just ignore all the problems starship creates. If you cannot explain why starship is a good option, this is just more starship fans inserting it into anything space because its starship! You have 99% of space internet for that already.

All that stuff is concern trolling, if we ignore HLS Option A/B award, you can ask the exact same questions about using Starship to land astronauts on the Moon (and return them to NRHO) and claim that is impossible, yet it is and NASA is spending $4B on it.

The difference between using Starship for HLS and using Starship for MSR is that Starship was not originally designed to do lunar landing, but it is specifically designed to be a Mars transportation system, using it for MSR is literally using it for what it is designed for. You think SpaceX hasn't thought about how to land Starship on Mars or return it to Earth when they designed the thing? Ridiculous.
Still waiting for how starship solves any problems. We are on page 12, and you've yet to say how starship solves the msr isues without lots of pixie dust.

Have Starship deliver the Sample return hardware to the surface. This gives the hardware less volume and mass constraints. Due to HLS (the human rated pixie dust), Starship has most of the technology to do this already in development. Looks like the plan to use helicopters to retrieve the samples so no long elevator ride needed. I'm sure you'll see popping a big access door as pixie dust, but at least it could be demonstrated on the unmanned HLS mission.
Sigh... one more time
HOW does starship deliver it to the surface? It has to land on a rocky field. Will it destroy itself? We use landing pads on earth for a reason. Will it tip over? Will the engines dig holes making it impossible for the ship to land standing up? Will debris destroy the engines causing it to fail its landing? You've got a couple landing legs on random rocky/sandy ground and hope for the best? Those 500tons won't apply alot of pressure or anything. Can starship land at a 5 degree angle? 10 degrees? 15 degrees? What if its tilted from a boulder under 1 leg? Will it tip over? What if it shifts? Will the legs collapse?

This of course assumes it can land there at all (big enough clear flat area that is close enough to try). Plus is able to have a small enough landing range without gps and other guidance. You can't send a dozen and hope for the best, cause you'd need to duplicate all the other msr stuff in each one.

As well, the mass constraints aren't about getting stuff to mars. They are mostly about getting stuff from mars into orbit and back to earth. Starship doesn't do a thing for any of that.
Theres an awful lot of wishing and hoping here. Assuming starship even can go to mars in the next 20 years, at best it will be a crap shoot to land in a rocky field. At worst it'll have a very high likelyhood of destroying itself.
Show me all those falcon 9 landings on boulder piles and lose ground that it might sink several feet into. Especially ones where its tilted at a 10 degree angle. Starship is much taller and hence far easier to tip over. HiRise (best camera in orbit) has a resolution of about half a meter. Which means from space, a solid field of half meter boulders would look safe. Good luck with your landing legs on that. You won't know until its too late.

Theres a laundry list of problems and risks starship adds. Net gain? Zero? Getting the stuff to mars was never the problem. Getting it OFF OF MARS was always the sticking point.

Good thing we have a rover and helicopter that's taken lots of pictures. Also it's great you can test the landing out multiple times on earth with similar terrain.

Edit: I don't think HLS landing thrusters are out of the question. The space shuttle showed having removable covers on a heatshield is possible.

Edit: 500 tons  ::) what a bunch of BS
« Last Edit: 02/23/2024 10:47 pm by Negan »

Offline deadman1204

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Please SpaceCow. Please explain how starship will address the huge amounts of basic issues I've described in the last several posts. Please address how starship makes this better. No one ever does, they just ignore all the problems starship creates. If you cannot explain why starship is a good option, this is just more starship fans inserting it into anything space because its starship! You have 99% of space internet for that already.

All that stuff is concern trolling, if we ignore HLS Option A/B award, you can ask the exact same questions about using Starship to land astronauts on the Moon (and return them to NRHO) and claim that is impossible, yet it is and NASA is spending $4B on it.

The difference between using Starship for HLS and using Starship for MSR is that Starship was not originally designed to do lunar landing, but it is specifically designed to be a Mars transportation system, using it for MSR is literally using it for what it is designed for. You think SpaceX hasn't thought about how to land Starship on Mars or return it to Earth when they designed the thing? Ridiculous.
Still waiting for how starship solves any problems. We are on page 12, and you've yet to say how starship solves the msr isues without lots of pixie dust.

Have Starship deliver the Sample return hardware to the surface. This gives the hardware less volume and mass constraints. Due to HLS (the human rated pixie dust), Starship has most of the technology to do this already in development. Looks like the plan to use helicopters to retrieve the samples so no long elevator ride needed. I'm sure you'll see popping a big access door as pixie dust, but at least it could be demonstrated on the unmanned HLS mission.
Sigh... one more time
HOW does starship deliver it to the surface? It has to land on a rocky field. Will it destroy itself? We use landing pads on earth for a reason. Will it tip over? Will the engines dig holes making it impossible for the ship to land standing up? Will debris destroy the engines causing it to fail its landing? You've got a couple landing legs on random rocky/sandy ground and hope for the best? Those 500tons won't apply alot of pressure or anything. Can starship land at a 5 degree angle? 10 degrees? 15 degrees? What if its tilted from a boulder under 1 leg? Will it tip over? What if it shifts? Will the legs collapse?

This of course assumes it can land there at all (big enough clear flat area that is close enough to try). Plus is able to have a small enough landing range without gps and other guidance. You can't send a dozen and hope for the best, cause you'd need to duplicate all the other msr stuff in each one.

As well, the mass constraints aren't about getting stuff to mars. They are mostly about getting stuff from mars into orbit and back to earth. Starship doesn't do a thing for any of that.
Theres an awful lot of wishing and hoping here. Assuming starship even can go to mars in the next 20 years, at best it will be a crap shoot to land in a rocky field. At worst it'll have a very high likelyhood of destroying itself.
Show me all those falcon 9 landings on boulder piles and lose ground that it might sink several feet into. Especially ones where its tilted at a 10 degree angle. Starship is much taller and hence far easier to tip over. HiRise (best camera in orbit) has a resolution of about half a meter. Which means from space, a solid field of half meter boulders would look safe. Good luck with your landing legs on that. You won't know until its too late.

Theres a laundry list of problems and risks starship adds. Net gain? Zero? Getting the stuff to mars was never the problem. Getting it OFF OF MARS was always the sticking point.

Good thing we have a rover and helicopter that's taken lots of pictures. Also it's great you can test the landing out multiple times on earth with similar terrain.
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Offline Negan

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Theres a laundry list of problems and risks starship adds. Net gain? Zero? Getting the stuff to mars was never the problem. Getting it OFF OF MARS was always the sticking point. It may be hard to believe, but starship doesn't solve all problems.

It's obvious the descent system is inadequate because it can't deliver an ascent system with enough mass or volume to get the job done. Starship could solve that problem by delivering a better ascent system.

Edit: Unless Falcon Heavy isn't big enough, but Starship could solve that problem too.
« Last Edit: 02/23/2024 11:00 pm by Negan »

Offline VSECOTSPE

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Have Starship deliver the Sample return hardware to the surface.

Starship canít land in/near Gusev Crater because something that big and exposed to Earthís atmosphere before launch will never meet the planetary protection requirements.  The scientists involved are trying to discern microscopic evidence of Mars biology from Mars chemistry in and around Gusev Crater.  Introducing million/billions of microscopic Earth spores that hitchhiked into that environment on a 120M tall chunk of stainless steel isnít going to help those scientists get that research done.  If Starship were used for the return trip, the same would apply to a nuclear or solar plant processing Martian CO2 into CH4 propellant.

I donít know the size of the exclusion zone, but landing Starship far away from Gusev Crater would probably needlessly lengthen and complicate the surface segment of the mission to retrieve the samples from Perseverance and Three Forks.

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This gives the hardware less volume and mass constraints.

Mission costs usually go by mass first and complexity second.  So relaxing constraints on mass usually increases the costs of missions unless thereís some dramatic decrease in complexity that more than makes up for the increased mass cost.  Itís usually not worth it unless you can throw lots of something dumb and inexpensive, like propellant or mass produced smallsats, at a mission problem.  Itís not clear there is such a trade here with MSR.

NASA has visited these trades repeatedly in the past.  For example, about a decade ago, NASA asked the National Research Council what science missions would benefit substantially in cost or be enabled by an HLV like Ares V.  MSR didnít make the cut for the interim report:

https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/12554/launching-science-science-opportunities-provided-by-nasas-constellation-system

Similarly, some truly ginormous space telescopes with ~15m diameters like ATLAST were proposed for the latest astrophysics decadal survey.  But the community as a whole wasnít interested in the costs and risks of them, even when enabled by something as big as Starship.  Instead they settled on a ~6m design about the same diameter as JWST that would get most of the same research done while avoiding the worst costs and risks of something like ATLAST:

https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/26141/pathways-to-discovery-in-astronomy-and-astrophysics-for-the-2020s

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Due to HLS (the human rated pixie dust), Starship has most of the technology to do this already in development.

No, Lunar Starship wonít develop or test Starshipís entry, descent, and landing systems for Mars.  Mars has an atmosphere that is crucial to Starshipís ability to slow down and land at Mars.  The Moonís atmosphere is a vacuum for all intents and purposes, and Lunar Starship will be relying exclusively on a propulsive landing at the Moon.  MSR cannot rely on Lunar Starship development alone to get into Mars orbit or land on Mars.

Same goes for Earthís atmosphere.  Lunar Starship is essentially a one-way vehicle.  It will not develop or test Starshipís reentry, descent, and landing systems for Earth.  MSR cannot rely on Lunar Starship development alone to return Mars samples through the Earthís atmosphere.

I donít know the specifics, but there are probably also large differences in the mission durations between Lunar Starship and any Mars mission.  Those may drive large differences in subsystem margins, redundancy, testing, and other features.

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Looks like the plan to use helicopters to retrieve the samples so no long elevator ride needed.

Probably not as the independent review of MSR was not positive on the inclusion of helicopters.

https://www.nasa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/mars-sample-return-independent-review-board-report.pdf

Disclosure:  I started the the Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems (COTS) Program and served as its first program exec at NASA HQ.  Thatís the program that supported the development of F9 and Dragon for ISS resupply (among other things).  So no one here is going to be more positive on the potential of private capabilities generally or SpaceX specifically to help solve NASA problems.  But I donít see any clear or obvious way for Starship to help solve NASAís MSR problem.  Maybe in a decade or two as follow-on missions, especially if planetary protection requirements can be relaxed as we learn more.  But not in the timeframe (this spring) that NASA needs to make architectural decisions.

Offline Negan

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I've heard that heat is a pretty effective way to sterilize things.

Offline Todd Martin

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I've heard that heat is a pretty effective way to sterilize things.
Which begs the question:  would bringing an autoclave on the mission to sterilize the sample canister be helpful?

Offline Don2

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I've heard that heat is a pretty effective way to sterilize things.
Which begs the question:  would bringing an autoclave on the mission to sterilize the sample canister be helpful?

If you've ever cooked an egg you've seen what heat does to biological molecules. It transforms (denatures) them as the protein chains unfold, and they lose their biological function. Heat sterilization would wipe out a lot of the astrobiology. It might leave many of the geoscience objectives intact.

It has been considered in the past, but was rejected because of the loss of science value. It probably should be looked at again. It would mean that you could use a parachute on the Earth entry vehicle, which would make the orbiting sample much lighter and therefore the MAV could be smaller.

Offline thespacecow

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Still waiting for how starship solves any problems. We are on page 12, and you've yet to say how starship solves the msr isues without lots of pixie dust.

I already posted about it pages ago:

I thought the business case would be obvious: It's the crewed Mars missions that NASA is hoping to do under Artemis.

This has been pointed out early in the thread: Just use a uncrewed version of your crewed Mars architecture to do MSR. You're going to have to do uncrewed test flight of this architecture anyway, so adding sample return is just a bonus. There are huge potential in terms of cost sharing, and it also helps that the current Artemis PoR is already funding one of these for lunar landing.

Remember the US moon rocks were also brought back by a crewed architecture, albeit via crewed mission instead of uncrewed mission.

The entire idea that Starship - a vehicle specifically designed for landing on Mars and return to Earth - needs "pixie dust" to do the job it is designed for is ludicrous, that's why I don't want to waste my time with people who are clearly not arguing in good faith and have an axe to grind against SpaceX.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Starship canít land in/near Gusev Crater because something that big and exposed to Earthís atmosphere before launch will never meet the planetary protection requirements.  The scientists involved are trying to discern microscopic evidence of Mars biology from Mars chemistry in and around Gusev Crater.  Introducing million/billions of microscopic Earth spores that hitchhiked into that environment on a 120M tall chunk of stainless steel isnít going to help those scientists get that research done.  If Starship were used for the return trip, the same would apply to a nuclear or solar plant processing Martian CO2 into CH4 propellant.

Which may mean that planetary protection expectations need to be revisited.  It seems counterproductive that even robotic exploration is priced out of existence due to planetary protection expectations.

Quote
Mission costs usually go by mass first and complexity second.  So relaxing constraints on mass usually increases the costs of missions unless thereís some dramatic decrease in complexity that more than makes up for the increased mass cost.  Itís usually not worth it unless you can throw lots of something dumb and inexpensive, like propellant or mass produced smallsats, at a mission problem.  Itís not clear there is such a trade here with MSR.

Using existing NASA cost models for a world 10 years in the future seems unsatisfactory to me.  Very large funding appears to be in place on the private side for a huge step change in landed size and mass capabilities on Earth, the Moon, and Mars.  Most of these capabilities are applicable to multiple uses.  Starlink milk runs benefit the economically feasible Mars landed size and mass capabilities, as do HLS tanking launches.
« Last Edit: 02/24/2024 03:24 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline deltaV

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Starship canít land in/near Gusev Crater because something that big and exposed to Earthís atmosphere before launch will never meet the planetary protection requirements.

Yeah planetary protection seems to be greatly increasing the cost of MSR by making it hard to reuse hardware designed for other tasks such as Starship.

Online Robotbeat

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...
Starship canít land in/near Gusev Crater because something that big and exposed to Earthís atmosphere before launch will never meet the planetary protection requirements.  ...
This isn't true. But go on.
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

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