Author Topic: NASA-Funded Study on Low-Cost Public-Private Return to the Moon  (Read 37784 times)

Offline gbaikie

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1628
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 5

Prior to ISS, I don't think many people thought a space station would cost more than 3 billion per year to maintain it.
Now, ISS as shown that space station are things that cost more than 3 billion dollars per year to maintain,
and this idea will persist until new evidence is provided.
I don't think people should think that space stations will cost over 3 billion per year, and that international space stations are then crashed into the atmosphere, deliberately.

But to not crash it into the atmosphere means someone must pony up enough funds to keep it functional to be able to dodge space junk otherwise it could contribute to accelerating the Kessler syndrome.
Even if "someone ponies up" it's possible it could be Kessler syndrome, tomorrow or next year.
So it was ponied up by US tax payers, and this was NASA doing. Very deliberate doing.
I would say NASA needs to do something about it, and I will add whatever it is,  it should not include a plan to blow up the 150 billion dollar international space station.
I don't think it can be considered  "a plan" if the idea is to sell idea that ISS will be a pile of junk which needs billions of dollar for it's disposal.

Let's look at history, used to be [not too long ago] that ISS could not have commercial providers delivering stuff to ISS- too risky.
Things change. And so I suggest that NASA show some leadership.

Quote
This might not cost all $3B for the first few years, but it would be a blank cheque to whatever maintenance was needed at some future date to keep it functional. This isn't just a matter of sending up propellant for the thrusters.  Again I suggest the interested parties could create whole new stations more cheaply than maintaining the ISS for a year or two.
I suggest we deal with the station we have, before imagining the public will support more of them.
I think the lack of responsible leadership with ISS, could hinder further space exploration, and if you spend 150 billion dollars, it should not hinder further space exploration.

I think we can explore the Moon while paying 3 billion per year to operate ISS, and mainly because we can start with a few robotic exploration missions and that Manned lunar exploration could be fairly inexpensive.
But Mars exploration is going to require more funds per year, and continuing ISS program until fails doesn't seem like an example of a good plan.

Offline sdsds

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5479
  • "With peace and hope for all mankind."
  • Seattle
  • Liked: 577
  • Likes Given: 677
I think we can explore the Moon while paying 3 billion per year to operate ISS, and mainly because we can start with a few robotic exploration missions

Yes, this is one of the tricks proposed here. Fund robotic missions out of the human spaceflight budget. Shades of the Lunar Precursor Robotic Program.
-- sdsds --

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 773
  • Liked: 75
  • Likes Given: 4

Affordability begins with:
- A LEO ZBO Gas Station  (allows multiple LVs to deliver propellant on their own schedule)

Why do you need Zero Boil off?  the launch economics don't require it
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 773
  • Liked: 75
  • Likes Given: 4
Prior to ISS, I don't think many people thought a space station would cost more than 3 billion per year to maintain it.
Now, ISS as shown that space station are things that cost more than 3 billion dollars per year to maintain,
and this idea will persist until new evidence is provided.
I don't think people should think that space stations will cost over 3 billion per year, and that international space stations are then crashed into the atmosphere, deliberately.

I don't want to go down the rat hole too much here, but we already DO have evidence that space stations cost less - we have the examples of Mir, Saylut, Skylab, and Tiangong.  The other side of the coin is (which actually brings us back to the report) if your station is producing $4 Billion a year, a $3 Billion a year overhead is fine (although, I suspect you'll want/need to get it down, to get the initial investors).  The point here is that creating demand/users allows youto recover your costs, which is why you should build your infrastructure in a way to create plenty of users and create funding mechanisms that allow for that infrastructure to be maintained, and everyone accepts the need to pay the costs
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8329
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 295
  • Likes Given: 129
Using rockets that will be available in the next 2-3 years what payload mass can we send to low lunar orbit if we refuel in LEO?

Offline gbaikie

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1628
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 5
Prior to ISS, I don't think many people thought a space station would cost more than 3 billion per year to maintain it.
Now, ISS as shown that space station are things that cost more than 3 billion dollars per year to maintain,
and this idea will persist until new evidence is provided.
I don't think people should think that space stations will cost over 3 billion per year, and that international space stations are then crashed into the atmosphere, deliberately.

I don't want to go down the rat hole too much here, but we already DO have evidence that space stations cost less - we have the examples of Mir, Saylut, Skylab, and Tiangong. 
Wiki:
" The project will culminate with a large orbital station, which will consist of a 20-ton core module, 2 smaller research modules, and cargo transport craft.[3] It will support three astronauts for long-term habitation and is scheduled to be completed just as the International Space Station is currently scheduled to be retired"
Tiangong may in future, provide such evidence.

Quote
The other side of the coin is (which actually brings us back to the report) if your station is producing $4 Billion a year, a $3 Billion a year overhead is fine (although, I suspect you'll want/need to get it down, to get the initial investors). 
Maybe fuel depot and/or Hotel.
And rather than Tiangong, et al, I would think Bigelow space stations were more relevant to low cost stations.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigelow_Commercial_Space_Station

Edit:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_I
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_II
http://bigelowaerospace.com/beam/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigelow_Aerospace


Quote
The point here is that creating demand/users allows you to recover your costs, which is why you should build your infrastructure in a way to create plenty of users and create funding mechanisms that allow for that infrastructure to be maintained, and everyone accepts the need to pay the costs

I think what NASA should focus on is exploration rather infrastructure. Though I think depots are infrastructure NASA needs to invest in, but mainly to develop depots into operating systems,  so it's not depot which has value, it's technology and operation experience with a depot, that would allow future investment [private or government- NASA and other space agencies] investments in other depots. So make Depot in LEO, and perhaps other parties will make other depots elsewhere in space.
« Last Edit: 07/24/2015 06:26 PM by gbaikie »

Offline sdsds

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5479
  • "With peace and hope for all mankind."
  • Seattle
  • Liked: 577
  • Likes Given: 677
Just started reading the the report, but they make a fundamental mistake in the second paragraph!

"The ELA strategic objective is commercial mining of propellant from lunar poles where it will be transported to lunar orbit to be used by NASA to send humans to Mars."

This is the Lunar tollbooth fallacy. Its 4.1 km/s into Lunar orbit from low Earth orbit, compared to 3.9 km/s for direct injection into a trans Mars orbit!

Perhaps the phrase "lunar orbit" isn't being used in the same way. Looking at page 25 of the pdf, they are clearly suggesting "the transport of the propellant to a depot in L2." Do you want to explore the notion that a propellant depot near EML-2 can play a useful role in a Mars exploration architecture? (I'd be happy to discuss this, but probably not on this thread.... ;) )
-- sdsds --

Offline ThereIWas3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 673
  • Liked: 295
  • Likes Given: 236
It seems to me that being in polar orbit around the Moon is not the best place from which to depart to Mars.
"If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea" - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline muomega0

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 861
  • Liked: 65
  • Likes Given: 1
Pssst... This thread is about the Moon.... ;)
LOL.... its about retaining a HLV architecture with SLS and Falcon Heavies since other LVs cannot reach L2.  Why retain SLS?

The study fails to include for example, the fixed costs of SLS and the non sole source LVs.   If one cuts the 3B/yr fixed costs of SLS/Orion, that buys quite a bit of propellant and hardware for technology and missions to all destinations to meet the objectives of NASA.  Here are the number of missions possible retaining SLS/Orion: zero.

The tactic is to substitute ISRU for Orion and retain excess unaffordable launch capacity... its it not really about the one legged stool: the moon ;)

Quote from: Unevolvable Lunar Architecture
A commercial lunar base providing propellant in lunar orbit might substantially reduce the cost and risk NASA of sending humans to Mars. The ELA would reduce the number of required Space Launch System (SLS) launches from as many as 12 to a total of only 3, thereby reducing SLS operational risks, and increasing its affordability.
With LEO depot centric, the LV flight rate is *increased* and the excess capacity and product lines are eliminated to reduce costs and includes IPs to help provide the IMLEO.. the rationale for this in the Executive summary is flawed ;D

Affordability begins with:
- A LEO ZBO Gas Station  (allows multiple LVs to deliver propellant on their own schedule)
Why do you need Zero Boil off?  the launch economics don't require it
A sixth flight was added to the MARS DRM 5 due to 70 tons of boiloff, assuming 0.1%/day, with no design solution presented to achieve this low rate.  Staging at LEO with ZBO reduces the IMLEO and hence costs vs direct shots to L2 without staging, especially when the architectures include payload mass fractions that do not have to include full tank launch loads and tankers can be designed to take more risk, to name but a few drivers.  Here are more  advantages of a dedicated depot in LEO

Rather than continue to be Lost In Space, start with an affordable architecture that includes the ability to refuel with multiple LVs in LEO, a focus on reuse of common hardware, and continuous technology development, so that the US can lead the way on a next generation of Exploration that most agree would merit a plus up. The vision of depots and staging, in work for decades, points the space-fairing nations toward that limitless frontier.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 773
  • Liked: 75
  • Likes Given: 4
Prior to ISS, I don't think many people thought a space station would cost more than 3 billion per year to maintain it.
Now, ISS as shown that space station are things that cost more than 3 billion dollars per year to maintain,
and this idea will persist until new evidence is provided.
I don't think people should think that space stations will cost over 3 billion per year, and that international space stations are then crashed into the atmosphere, deliberately.

I don't want to go down the rat hole too much here, but we already DO have evidence that space stations cost less - we have the examples of Mir, Saylut, Skylab, and Tiangong. 
Wiki:
" The project will culminate with a large orbital station, which will consist of a 20-ton core module, 2 smaller research modules, and cargo transport craft.[3] It will support three astronauts for long-term habitation and is scheduled to be completed just as the International Space Station is currently scheduled to be retired"
Tiangong may in future, provide such evidence.

I was referring to Tiangong 1, which is already flying, so we at least do have some actual operating numbers for Tiangong 1, rather than Tiangong 3.  The fundamental point is that you said we only have 1 data point for station operations.  Even if you take the position that we don't have good numbers on Tiangong 1, we do have good numbers for Mir, for Saylut, and Skylab.  That was my reason for not including Bigelow - we know what their projected costs are, but they are only projected, not actual history. 

Quote
The point here is that creating demand/users allows you to recover your costs, which is why you should build your infrastructure in a way to create plenty of users and create funding mechanisms that allow for that infrastructure to be maintained, and everyone accepts the need to pay the costs

I think what NASA should focus on is exploration rather infrastructure. Though I think depots are infrastructure NASA needs to invest in, but mainly to develop depots into operating systems,  so it's not depot which has value, it's technology and operation experience with a depot, that would allow future investment [private or government- NASA and other space agencies] investments in other depots. So make Depot in LEO, and perhaps other parties will make other depots elsewhere in space.

Well, infrastructure has to be built, regardless of your choice of architecture.  And someone has to be the owner/operator of the infrastructure, and someone has to be the user of that infrastructure.

But this is the big question - who should have the ability to use the infrastructure, who should be the owner/operator?  Some of these questions drive what your architecture looks like.  (see Constellation/SLS debate - not looking to rehash it, but that was part of the discussion)
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline gbaikie

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1628
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 5
Prior to ISS, I don't think many people thought a space station would cost more than 3 billion per year to maintain it.
Now, ISS as shown that space station are things that cost more than 3 billion dollars per year to maintain,
and this idea will persist until new evidence is provided.
I don't think people should think that space stations will cost over 3 billion per year, and that international space stations are then crashed into the atmosphere, deliberately.

I don't want to go down the rat hole too much here, but we already DO have evidence that space stations cost less - we have the examples of Mir, Saylut, Skylab, and Tiangong. 
Wiki:
" The project will culminate with a large orbital station, which will consist of a 20-ton core module, 2 smaller research modules, and cargo transport craft.[3] It will support three astronauts for long-term habitation and is scheduled to be completed just as the International Space Station is currently scheduled to be retired"
Tiangong may in future, provide such evidence.

I was referring to Tiangong 1, which is already flying, so we at least do have some actual operating numbers for Tiangong 1, rather than Tiangong 3.  The fundamental point is that you said we only have 1 data point for station operations.  Even if you take the position that we don't have good numbers on Tiangong 1, we do have good numbers for Mir, for Saylut, and Skylab.  That was my reason for not including Bigelow - we know what their projected costs are, but they are only projected, not actual history. 
Oh, my mistake, the link I gave did not mention, Genesis.  I only assumed it would.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_I
"Genesis I was launched on 12 July 2006 at 14:53:30 UTC aboard an ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket, launched from Dombarovskiy missile base near Yasniy, Russia. Spacecraft control was transferred to Bigelow Aerospace at 15:08 UTC after a successful orbital insertion."
And:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_II
"Genesis II was launched on 28 June 2007, at 15:02 UTC. As with Genesis I, it was launched aboard an ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket from Dombarovskiy missile base near Yasniy, Russia. It successfully reached orbit after separation from the rocket at 15:16 UTC."


Offline MP99

Affordability begins with:
- A LEO ZBO Gas Station  (allows multiple LVs to deliver propellant on their own schedule)
Why do you need Zero Boil off?  the launch economics don't require it
A sixth flight was added to the MARS DRM 5 due to 70 tons of boiloff, assuming 0.1%/day, with no design solution presented to achieve this low rate.  Staging at LEO with ZBO reduces the IMLEO and hence costs vs direct shots to L2 without staging, especially when the architectures include payload mass fractions that do not have to include full tank launch loads and tankers can be designed to take more risk, to name but a few drivers.  Here are more  advantages of a dedicated depot in LEO
[/quote]

ZBO is easy to achieve at EML (and I think HLO), with methalox. Just needs a simple sun shield, and maybe even a little heating to stop it freezing.

Would also be easier to reduce / eliminate boil off in LEO.

Cheers, Martin

Offline jbenton

  • Member
  • Posts: 16
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 10
Affordability begins with:
- A LEO ZBO Gas Station  (allows multiple LVs to deliver propellant on their own schedule)
Why do you need Zero Boil off?  the launch economics don't require it
A sixth flight was added to the MARS DRM 5 due to 70 tons of boiloff, assuming 0.1%/day, with no design solution presented to achieve this low rate.  Staging at LEO with ZBO reduces the IMLEO and hence costs vs direct shots to L2 without staging, especially when the architectures include payload mass fractions that do not have to include full tank launch loads and tankers can be designed to take more risk, to name but a few drivers.  Here are more  advantages of a dedicated depot in LEO

ZBO is easy to achieve at EML (and I think HLO), with methalox. Just needs a simple sun shield, and maybe even a little heating to stop it freezing.

Would also be easier to reduce / eliminate boil off in LEO.

Cheers, Martin

It would be even easier to have ZBO using plain H2O than methane and oxygen. The upper stages could just dump excess hydrolox propellants through a hydrogen fuel cell and the depot fills with water. New upper stages could receive propellants through electrolysis. Or is there something that makes electrolysis difficult in space?

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3348
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1749
  • Likes Given: 201
Something that I have learned for studying the Spudis and Lavoie 2010 paper is that there are two major items.

The first is that nearly half the cost of the 2010 $88B estimate is launch costs to get the "stuff" to the Lunar surface using ATlas V's and SLS's or the LV at the time of the study Constellation. In 2011 I studied what would happen when this would be put on a COTS model and used cheaper LVs such as F9's and FH's/FX's and FXX's which were postulated and estimated costs at that time. It showed the NASA total spending would drop to about $60B just from change of use of LV's.

The second was that other costs due to using a cost sharing structure allowed NASA development costs to be pushed to a later time during operations (the commercial entities recovering their investments by charging higher prices than just NASA flat costs if NASA was operating everything.) There was also the possibility that overall costs could also decline by allowing the companies to be more innovative to reduce costs both during development and during operations (ability to recover the investments faster).

Today when I revisted my cost model and used F9R and FHR pricing as well as capabilities and probable price of the BFR/MCT the NASA total spending for the project dropped to $33B. (Thats not to say total spending by all parties was only $33B, it's actually $48B but a lot is the effect due to speed of money in that some funds are respent multiple times as different entities provide services to each other. But there was one item that did not change from the original 2010 paper and that was the nearly $3B in technology spending at the beginning of the program for depot and ISRU/mining technologies. COTS may lower this but current evidence says no. If NASA did this technology development at $600M per year it would take 5 years to get the technology ready to use to be able to design spacecraft that would be launched 4 years later to test the technology actually on the Lunar surface and depots in LEO and Lunar orbit/EML.


Offline nadreck

Affordability begins with:
- A LEO ZBO Gas Station  (allows multiple LVs to deliver propellant on their own schedule)
Why do you need Zero Boil off?  the launch economics don't require it
A sixth flight was added to the MARS DRM 5 due to 70 tons of boiloff, assuming 0.1%/day, with no design solution presented to achieve this low rate.  Staging at LEO with ZBO reduces the IMLEO and hence costs vs direct shots to L2 without staging, especially when the architectures include payload mass fractions that do not have to include full tank launch loads and tankers can be designed to take more risk, to name but a few drivers.  Here are more  advantages of a dedicated depot in LEO

ZBO is easy to achieve at EML (and I think HLO), with methalox. Just needs a simple sun shield, and maybe even a little heating to stop it freezing.

Would also be easier to reduce / eliminate boil off in LEO.

Cheers, Martin

It would be even easier to have ZBO using plain H2O than methane and oxygen. The upper stages could just dump excess hydrolox propellants through a hydrogen fuel cell and the depot fills with water. New upper stages could receive propellants through electrolysis. Or is there something that makes electrolysis difficult in space?

The rate at which it would take place which is based on the amount of power available. Far more power would be needed to electrolyze and liquify the hydrogen and oxygen at a usable rate for fueling process than is needed for actively reliquifying  what has boiled off.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline nadreck

Note it may still be more economic to ship water from a source off earth to LEO for conversion there into propellant via electrolysis and liquifaction. Just not in an on demand fashion.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3348
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1749
  • Likes Given: 201
Note it may still be more economic to ship water from a source off earth to LEO for conversion there into propellant via electrolysis and liquifaction. Just not in an on demand fashion.

Actual when I studied the costs of various scenarios where the H2O was converted and liquefied only affected the cost by +-10%. The sensitivity was such that at this time you could not determine what would actually be the cheapest scenario without actual hardware prototypes and real costs.

Offline nadreck

Note it may still be more economic to ship water from a source off earth to LEO for conversion there into propellant via electrolysis and liquifaction. Just not in an on demand fashion.

Actual when I studied the costs of various scenarios where the H2O was converted and liquefied only affected the cost by +-10%. The sensitivity was such that at this time you could not determine what would actually be the cheapest scenario without actual hardware prototypes and real costs.

Agreed, add to the mix to determine the efficiency of various scenarios where some of the solar power components and some of the electrolysis components themselves are produced off earth with materials from off earth.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3772
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2503
  • Likes Given: 3207
I was referring to Tiangong 1, which is already flying, so we at least do have some actual operating numbers for Tiangong 1, rather than Tiangong 3.

I was not aware China has shared any operational cost data.  Have they?

And even if they did share operational cost info, Tiangong 1 was not big enough, or used enough, to create a valid comparison between it and the ISS.  Remember the ISS masses 50X larger.

Quote
Even if you take the position that we don't have good numbers on Tiangong 1, we do have good numbers for Mir, for Saylut, and Skylab.

Like comparing a Douglas DC-3 to a Boeing 747.

Plus, do we really have access to valid operational cost data from the USSR on Saylut and Mir?  I'd be surprised if we did.

To a certain degree part of the cost drivers today is that we have so many different ISS partners, and we have lots of duplicity in the operations side.  That is a cautionary story for future multi-partner efforts, like going to the Moon and Mars, so I'm not sure it's the hardware per se that is the biggest driver.

As to the study itself, I was happy to hear that they were able to identify how to reduce costs for setting up a small operation on the Moon.  And while they still show the SLS in the mix, the death knell for the SLS is that it is not the lowest cost solution for most of the mass needed, which means that it is unlikely to have enough overall demand to warrant any use at all (i.e. it may be mothballed/cancelled by the time the lunar program starts).

The assertion that we need to do lunar ISRU is still unproven, which is perfectly normal at this point.  However if the goal is to go to the Moon to create fuel for future Mars missions, then the proposition that fuel can be sourced for less from the Moon instead of from alternative sources (like Earth or at Mars itself) has to be proven in some way.

Plus, and this affects all space exploration ideas, Congress has shown no interest in any BEO exploration, even for the SLS.  So regardless how much lower in cost this proposal may be, it may still be too expensive for our current Congress.
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 oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3348
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1749
  • Likes Given: 201
Note it may still be more economic to ship water from a source off earth to LEO for conversion there into propellant via electrolysis and liquifaction. Just not in an on demand fashion.

Actual when I studied the costs of various scenarios where the H2O was converted and liquefied only affected the cost by +-10%. The sensitivity was such that at this time you could not determine what would actually be the cheapest scenario without actual hardware prototypes and real costs.

Agreed, add to the mix to determine the efficiency of various scenarios where some of the solar power components and some of the electrolysis components themselves are produced off earth with materials from off earth.

The scenarios leaned toward for LEO prop delivered from Earth and for L2 water delivered from the Moon.

This was due to not only the cost of equipment but the cost of getting the equipment to the location. In the case of the Moon the cost of getting extra equipment to the Lunar surface vs just having to get that extra equipment to only L2. additionally having the infrastructure at L2 could be used by captured NEO's processed water as well supplanting delivered Lunar water.

Tags: