Author Topic: Launch of LOP-G PPE  (Read 1400 times)

Offline hektor

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Launch of LOP-G PPE
« on: 02/13/2018 11:06 AM »
I understand that the LOP-G PPE will now launch alone on a US ELV in FY 2022.

What are the possible contenders :
- Falcon Heavy
- New Glenn - will it be ready ?
- SLS/EUS as a rehearsal before EM-2
- Vulcan - will it be ready ?
- Delta IV Heavy- will it still exist ?

Offline brickmack

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Re: Launch of LOP-G PPE
« Reply #1 on: 02/13/2018 04:30 PM »
SLS seems pretty unlikely.

Being that the PPE has so much propulsion capability, one nice thing is that it doesn't technically need insertion to lunar orbit or even TLI. SNC already has talked about a close derivative of their PPE bid being usable as an ISS-to-cislunar cargo vehicle. Even Falcon 9 could most likely deliver this to slightly-past-LEO with booster reuse. But this would reduce stationkeeping/translational capability a lot (until the first cargo flight delivers more propellant), so probably not ideal. Direct insertion all the way to NRHO/LDRO would be great, but probably only Vulcan-ACES could do that, and that almost certainly won't be available in 2022 unfortunately. Falcon Heavy, Vulcan-Centaur V, and New Glenn all easily have enough performance for sending a ~12 ton spacecraft to TLI and should be available by then. Delta IV Heavy can get close, but not quite. OrbATK's NGL should also be able to do it in its larger configurations, but who knows if that will ever exist...

If they do launch on Vulcan or NG (or FH with stretched fairing), it might be a nice idea to use the surplus performance available to combine a small hab module pre-integrated with the PPE and have it bring that with it to lunar orbit. Makes for a slightly more useful EM-2.