Author Topic: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best  (Read 8011 times)

Offline BackInAction

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"The hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither"

I've noticed in the past few years, many different mission proposals have been pitched to/from NASA for their flexible path.  These includes return to the moon, mission to asteroids, creating space vehicles (landers, rovers, in space vehicles, crew suits, etc), and the eventual mission to mars.  This seems like a lot of different objectives for an agency with a limited budget.  With that in mind, this seems to be the trend.  Too many people have too many ideas (which is fine) which get partially implemented (which is bad).  This leads to budget overruns, unreachable commitments, and eventually focus changes that phases all these projects out.

I'm starting to believe the best approach for a human focused NASA mission is a mission objective that is so basic and focused, addons/scope increase to the mission is nearly impossible.  This ensures that the first mission objective will have the highest probability of being completed.

Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return.  No landing, no in space vehicles beyond the hab, return module, and propulsion stage.  Just a basic focused mission.  I believe this would have the highest probability of success and the achievements gained in this focused mission could be applied to a followup focused mission (landing on Mars).

While I believe NASA should continue to run regular non-human missions regularly and continually (probe, telescope, rovers, etc), I believe for human missions, a more basic and focused approach is necessary as these seem to spin off into the most costly programs.

Anyone have any thoughts on this idea?

Offline Warren Platts

In reality, the only short-term project that's doable and that's more than a flyby around the Moon is going to be a mini-ISS at EML1 or EML2. From there you're halfway to the rest of the Solar System. Hopefully, they'll be working on cryogenic fuel transfer and storage at the same time.

With a Gateway Station and propellant depots, a lot of options open up, but the one immediately after the Gateway/depot that would really be both cool and enabling would be a major push to get rocket propellant from the Moon's surface. If we spent 10 or 20 years doing that, a Mars surface permanently manned research would be easier by an order of magnitude. Mars isn't going to happen any sooner than that anyways.
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #2 on: 04/16/2012 05:20 pm »
In reality, the only short-term project that's doable and that's more than a flyby around the Moon is going to be a mini-ISS at EML1 or EML2. From there you're halfway to the rest of the Solar System. Hopefully, they'll be working on cryogenic fuel transfer and storage at the same time.

With a Gateway Station and propellant depots, a lot of options open up, but the one immediately after the Gateway/depot that would really be both cool and enabling would be a major push to get rocket propellant from the Moon's surface. If we spent 10 or 20 years doing that, a Mars surface permanently manned research would be easier by an order of magnitude. Mars isn't going to happen any sooner than that anyways.

Don't mean to nit-pick (as I think the above suggestions are very cool), but look what you did there:
1) New space station
2) Cryogenic fuel transfer and storage
3) Rocket propellant from the Moon's surface

This is the type of complexity I'm advocating AGAINST (even though I do appreciate the feedback and think they are good ideas!).  There are too many spin offs that end up bloating the cost.

Offline scienceguy

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #3 on: 04/16/2012 05:25 pm »
I agree that a focused humans-to-Mars program would be the best for NASA. This would work towards an eventual colony on Mars, and humans living on two planets would be worth the money.
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #4 on: 04/16/2012 05:50 pm »
A quite small space station (we're talking about roughly one-tenth the size and mass of ISS) is a much different situation than another big space station like ISS. We effectively need to develop one anyway to get to Mars. The propulsion system (400kW) used to move it from LEO to a Lagrange point would be the same sort we'd need to push a small MTV (based on the gateway) from Lagrange to Mars orbit and back (1000kW), and at very least the same 400kW tug could be used for carrying cargo to Mars orbit (and also for preplacing surface elements with a lot lower IMLEO). The gateway also enables reuse of the Mars Transfer Vehicle.

Much better and less bloated than a Battlestar Galactica Mars DRM leaving straight from LEO, throwing the whole thing away every mission.
« Last Edit: 04/16/2012 05:51 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online A_M_Swallow

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #5 on: 04/16/2012 05:55 pm »
The general public would not understand a mission that goes all the way to Mars and not land.  During planning the complexity would go through the roof.

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #6 on: 04/16/2012 05:57 pm »
A quite small space station (we're talking about roughly one-tenth the size and mass of ISS) is a much different situation than another big space station like ISS. We effectively need to develop one anyway to get to Mars. The propulsion system (400kW) used to move it from LEO to a Lagrange point would be the same sort we'd need to push a small MTV (based on the gateway) from Lagrange to Mars orbit and back (1000kW), and at very least the same 400kW tug could be used for carrying cargo to Mars orbit (and also for preplacing surface elements with a lot lower IMLEO). The gateway also enables reuse of the Mars Transfer Vehicle.

Much better and less bloated than a Battlestar Galactica Mars DRM leaving straight from LEO, throwing the whole thing away every mission.

Definitely agree it would be much smaller, but you're introducing more complexity and cost:
1) New space station, maintenance, and reserving missions
2) New propulsion system
3) New tug

And this all needs to be completed before the Mars departure/return vehicle is created!  Again, I think this is a cool idea, but it's getting away from the original mission of getting human to orbit Mars in the most focused way possible.

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #7 on: 04/16/2012 05:58 pm »
The general public would not understand a mission that goes all the way to Mars and not land.  During planning the complexity would go through the roof.

The general public does not understand why NASA is currently NOT at Mars already.  If it was explained to them that a focused block approach was the safest and cheapest way, they would understand.

Online A_M_Swallow

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #8 on: 04/16/2012 06:01 pm »
What they have not told you is they hope to get the moon mission people to build the spacestation and tug.

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #9 on: 04/16/2012 06:05 pm »
What they have not told you is they hope to get the moon mission people to build the spacestation and tug.

And out of which budget does that come?

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #10 on: 04/16/2012 06:09 pm »
A quite small space station (we're talking about roughly one-tenth the size and mass of ISS) is a much different situation than another big space station like ISS. We effectively need to develop one anyway to get to Mars. The propulsion system (400kW) used to move it from LEO to a Lagrange point would be the same sort we'd need to push a small MTV (based on the gateway) from Lagrange to Mars orbit and back (1000kW), and at very least the same 400kW tug could be used for carrying cargo to Mars orbit (and also for preplacing surface elements with a lot lower IMLEO). The gateway also enables reuse of the Mars Transfer Vehicle.

Much better and less bloated than a Battlestar Galactica Mars DRM leaving straight from LEO, throwing the whole thing away every mission.

Definitely agree it would be much smaller, but you're introducing more complexity and cost:
1) New space station, maintenance, and reserving missions
2) New propulsion system
3) New tug

And this all needs to be completed before the Mars departure/return vehicle is created!  Again, I think this is a cool idea, but it's getting away from the original mission of getting human to orbit Mars in the most focused way possible.
Look, you're making the mistake that lack of napkin-sketch-level complexity translates into lack of operational complexity. A big mistake.

Was Gemini a distraction? Not at all. It enabled a far smaller Saturn V as opposed to direct-ascent.

If you look at Apollo, it seems very complex (or very simple, from the outside). Because getting to the Moon is a complicated task. Mars is around an order of magnitude higher complexity. By going with an architecture like I described (which isn't something I just made up, but is talked about in, for instance, this paper: http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Raftery_5-25-11/Raftery_5-25-11.pdf ), you can avoid having to assemble a big exploration stack in LEO, which has its own complications... You'd also have to do low-boiloff technology.

Because of the exponential nature of the rocket equation, it makes a lot of sense to use very high-Isp propulsion for missions where you can. It may appear to be more complicated initially on the napkin-level, but the IMLEO is so much lower that the overall complexity can be lessened, along with the total mission cost.
« Last Edit: 04/16/2012 06:10 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #11 on: 04/16/2012 06:13 pm »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
But .. why ? Whats the value in that beyond claiming "we have done it" ?

If i had a family, with fairly limited resources, putting my grandpa on a plane to Sidney and flying him straight back so that the rest of the family can cheer him on, is NOT how i would spend my funds or energy.
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #12 on: 04/16/2012 06:20 pm »
The goal would either require years in deep space (we don't have that experience, yet, and we'd need to test it out first in, for instance, a deep space gateway) or high-Isp propulsion (like the SEP tug).

The gateway (which wouldn't be permanently manned, just for test missions) is essentially a prototype for a Mars Transfer Vehicle. And the tug to get it to the Lagrange Point is essentially a prototype for the high-Isp propulsion needed for such a trip. It's not a distraction, it's a very lean way to go about developing the techniques and technology and experience needed for even a Mars orbital trip like you describe.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #13 on: 04/16/2012 06:28 pm »
A quite small space station (we're talking about roughly one-tenth the size and mass of ISS) is a much different situation than another big space station like ISS. We effectively need to develop one anyway to get to Mars. The propulsion system (400kW) used to move it from LEO to a Lagrange point would be the same sort we'd need to push a small MTV (based on the gateway) from Lagrange to Mars orbit and back (1000kW), and at very least the same 400kW tug could be used for carrying cargo to Mars orbit (and also for preplacing surface elements with a lot lower IMLEO). The gateway also enables reuse of the Mars Transfer Vehicle.

Much better and less bloated than a Battlestar Galactica Mars DRM leaving straight from LEO, throwing the whole thing away every mission.

Definitely agree it would be much smaller, but you're introducing more complexity and cost:
1) New space station, maintenance, and reserving missions
2) New propulsion system
3) New tug

And this all needs to be completed before the Mars departure/return vehicle is created!  Again, I think this is a cool idea, but it's getting away from the original mission of getting human to orbit Mars in the most focused way possible.
Look, you're making the mistake that lack of napkin-sketch-level complexity translates into lack of operational complexity. A big mistake.

Was Gemini a distraction? Not at all. It enabled a far smaller Saturn V as opposed to direct-ascent.

If you look at Apollo, it seems very complex (or very simple, from the outside). Because getting to the Moon is a complicated task. Mars is around an order of magnitude higher complexity. By going with an architecture like I described (which isn't something I just made up, but is talked about in, for instance, this paper: http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Raftery_5-25-11/Raftery_5-25-11.pdf ), you can avoid having to assemble a big exploration stack in LEO, which has its own complications... You'd also have to do low-boiloff technology.

Because of the exponential nature of the rocket equation, it makes a lot of sense to use very high-Isp propulsion for missions where you can. It may appear to be more complicated initially on the napkin-level, but the IMLEO is so much lower that the overall complexity can be lessened, along with the total mission cost.

Totally understood, but you are still adding complexity into an already complex equation and doing spin offs that are not directly NECESSARY for the mission.  These new pieces of mission hardware will not come free.  Even after they are paid for, just the cost of maintaining them would be high (look at ISS as example).

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #14 on: 04/16/2012 06:30 pm »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
But .. why ? Whats the value in that beyond claiming "we have done it" ?

If i had a family, with fairly limited resources, putting my grandpa on a plane to Sidney and flying him straight back so that the rest of the family can cheer him on, is NOT how i would spend my funds or energy.

I don't understand your response, please clarify.

Offline scienceguy

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #15 on: 04/16/2012 06:30 pm »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
But .. why ? Whats the value in that beyond claiming "we have done it" ?

If i had a family, with fairly limited resources, putting my grandpa on a plane to Sidney and flying him straight back so that the rest of the family can cheer him on, is NOT how i would spend my funds or energy.

Sure, there isn't much value in "we have done it", but what if some people stayed on Mars as a colony? Humans living on two planets? Wouldn't that be worth it?
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Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #16 on: 04/16/2012 06:32 pm »
The goal would either require years in deep space (we don't have that experience, yet, and we'd need to test it out first in, for instance, a deep space gateway) or high-Isp propulsion (like the SEP tug).

The gateway (which wouldn't be permanently manned, just for test missions) is essentially a prototype for a Mars Transfer Vehicle. And the tug to get it to the Lagrange Point is essentially a prototype for the high-Isp propulsion needed for such a trip. It's not a distraction, it's a very lean way to go about developing the techniques and technology and experience needed for even a Mars orbital trip like you describe.

While this approach could definitely have merit (not arguing it doesn't!), but why not create the mission stack and test off that without incurring the costs and spinoff projects resulting from the above?

Offline savuporo

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #17 on: 04/16/2012 06:34 pm »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
But .. why ? Whats the value in that beyond claiming "we have done it" ?

If i had a family, with fairly limited resources, putting my grandpa on a plane to Sidney and flying him straight back so that the rest of the family can cheer him on, is NOT how i would spend my funds or energy.

Sure, there isn't much value in "we have done it", but what if some people stayed on Mars as a colony? Humans living on two planets? Wouldn't that be worth it?
Thats not what was proposed here and it would have an entirely different complexity, and probably a completely different optimal approach for achieving the given end goal as well.

( and IMO, no, not worth it at this point )
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Offline scienceguy

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #18 on: 04/16/2012 06:39 pm »
Fair enough.
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Offline Jim

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #19 on: 04/16/2012 06:43 pm »

Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
Anyone have any thoughts on this idea?


Why?  It has no real benefits.

A.  Why should NASA or the USA being going to Mars?
B.  The mission would be a waste.  Once you done it, it would be 5 years before being able to do the next step.

Offline Jim

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #20 on: 04/16/2012 06:44 pm »

Sure, there isn't much value in "we have done it", but what if some people stayed on Mars as a colony? Humans living on two planets? Wouldn't that be worth it?

No, not for NASA or the USA to do it.

Offline mwfair

Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #21 on: 04/16/2012 06:47 pm »
Seem to me like many of the earlier missions, in and of themselves, have been fairly simple.  Also, in my recollection, there have been few instances of having multiple missions (rabbits) simultaneously (if we ignore the ongoing missions).  If these two things are fair, it seems like the proposed mission here, while slightly simpler than the others, is just another iteration of the parade of missions.

It seems to me like the thing we need is a stable goal, and it is this which should display the qualities you advocate of simplicity, feasibility, and resistance to scope-creep.  Within this goal should be a list of 3-5 missions, the first of which should the type of mission you propose.  But if the space exploration agenda includes only your uber-simple mission, I don't see how it can have any stability from a policy perspective in relation to either the man-on-the-street or politician. 

So I propose that the question be augmented with a goal and a 1st mission.  Gemini is a good example.  The goal was clear and compelling.  The first mission, while on the surface seeming like a lark ("send grandpa to Sydney and back"), was defensible in terms a roadmap to something more meaningful than its own mission goals.
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #22 on: 04/16/2012 06:48 pm »
The goal would either require years in deep space (we don't have that experience, yet, and we'd need to test it out first in, for instance, a deep space gateway) or high-Isp propulsion (like the SEP tug).

The gateway (which wouldn't be permanently manned, just for test missions) is essentially a prototype for a Mars Transfer Vehicle. And the tug to get it to the Lagrange Point is essentially a prototype for the high-Isp propulsion needed for such a trip. It's not a distraction, it's a very lean way to go about developing the techniques and technology and experience needed for even a Mars orbital trip like you describe.

While this approach could definitely have merit (not arguing it doesn't!), but why not create the mission stack and test off that without incurring the costs and spinoff projects resulting from the above?
Because creating the mission stack initially is too budget consuming. And, we can't make the mission stack yet because we don't have a full grasp on all the requirements, either, and the TRL for many of the technologies is too low. We first have to raise the TRL (technology readiness level) of the requisite technologies before we can build the mission stack, and that requires testing it in orbit and in deep space. As I said, we had to do Gemini before we could do Apollo or we would've been forced into the much more expensive direct-ascent architecture.

The station has nothing even close to the requirements as ISS, it's about one tenth the mass and volume, with a much smaller crew contingent and would be only occasionally manned (except when doing mission dry-runs, etc). And we need it as a staging point for certain Mars architectures, anyway (some go without bringing a heavy Orion along with and return to Lagrange point at the end). We can get a less expensive architecture that as a bonus is amenable to being reused. And we can start building it with existing launch vehicles, instead of waiting for SLS to be fully developed and for RS-25e and for a second launch pad, etc... I.e. we can start building it even with just EELVs and the occasional proto-SLS (could do without even that, but I'm just describing the current plan as I see it).

Not only that, but as I said, the tug could be refueled and used for transporting elements to Mars orbit after deploying the station to a Lagrange point. This supports exploration of the Mars system and makes a Mars orbital mission actually worthwhile (by making it into a surface mission or perhaps to at least study Phobos/Deimos).
« Last Edit: 04/16/2012 06:59 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #23 on: 04/16/2012 06:50 pm »

Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
Anyone have any thoughts on this idea?


Why?  It has no real benefits.

A.  Why should NASA or the USA being going to Mars?
B.  The mission would be a waste.  Once you done it, it would be 5 years before being able to do the next step.

Hi Jim,

A. From your posts, I definitely understand where you are coming from.  This is not part of NASAs charter, they should only be involved in technology development.  Commercial should be doing this.  But if the trend continues where NASA gets tasked with these projects, this would be my preferred approach to not burn through dollars that should be used on the original goal of NASA.
B. While I tend to agree that there would be a lag between the first mission objective (going to Mars) and the second (landing on Mars), these could be spaced adequately where the impact would not be bad.  Once the first phase is completed, you will still need the first phase technology to complete the second.  So one phase will be used in the second.
« Last Edit: 04/16/2012 06:52 pm by BackInAction »

Offline neilh

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #24 on: 04/16/2012 06:56 pm »
How many election cycles do you think such a plan would last before being canceled with nothing to show for it? Part of the benefit of flexible path is that progress made is beneficial to just about any goal a future administration decides to pursue.
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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #25 on: 04/16/2012 06:56 pm »

B. While I tend to agree that there would be a lag between the first mission objective (going to Mars) and the second (landing on Mars), these could be spaced adequately where the impact would not be bad.  Once the first phase is completed, you will still need the first phase technology to complete the second.  So one phase will be used in the second.

Define "adequately".  If the lander isn't worked on while doing the first mission, than the delay will be 5 or more years.

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #26 on: 04/16/2012 06:57 pm »
But if the trend continues where NASA gets tasked with these projects,

NASA isn't going to be tasked with any manned mars mission.

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #27 on: 04/16/2012 07:06 pm »
How many election cycles do you think such a plan would last before being canceled with nothing to show for it? Part of the benefit of flexible path is that progress made is beneficial to just about any goal a future administration decides to pursue.

Why do you equate sending human on long duration missions to orbit Mars having no value?

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #28 on: 04/16/2012 07:08 pm »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
But .. why ? Whats the value in that beyond claiming "we have done it" ?

If i had a family, with fairly limited resources, putting my grandpa on a plane to Sidney and flying him straight back so that the rest of the family can cheer him on, is NOT how i would spend my funds or energy.

I don't understand your response, please clarify.

What you recommending is a stunt. Something that excites the public.
Or "flags and footprints". A repeat of the Apollo program.
The problem most people see with Apollo was it stopped. The purpose of Apollo was to land a man on the Moon and return him safely [before the Soviets did it]. The Apollo program is a stunt no one will match. Going to Mars will be more difficult, but it's this difficulty is unlikely to be appreciated- even advocates of doing it don't appear to appreciate how hard it will be to do. But even imagining the flying to Mars will be as exciting or more exciting, you still have the problem of being finished- whatever excitement fades, and people wonder why so much money continues to be spent doing something already done.

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #29 on: 04/16/2012 07:11 pm »

B. While I tend to agree that there would be a lag between the first mission objective (going to Mars) and the second (landing on Mars), these could be spaced adequately where the impact would not be bad.  Once the first phase is completed, you will still need the first phase technology to complete the second.  So one phase will be used in the second.

Define "adequately".  If the lander isn't worked on while doing the first mission, than the delay will be 5 or more years.

Would that be such a terrible time frame?  Consider we send one of these missions out each year for 5 years and then once every 2 years for another 5 years.  That's a total of 7-8 missions.  We've flown the shuttle hundreds of times for 30+ years and have two considerable gaps from disasters.  I don't think 5 years would be that bad.

Offline BackInAction

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #30 on: 04/16/2012 07:13 pm »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
But .. why ? Whats the value in that beyond claiming "we have done it" ?

If i had a family, with fairly limited resources, putting my grandpa on a plane to Sidney and flying him straight back so that the rest of the family can cheer him on, is NOT how i would spend my funds or energy.

I don't understand your response, please clarify.

What you recommending is a stunt. Something that excites the public.
Or "flags and footprints". A repeat of the Apollo program.
The problem most people see with Apollo was it stopped. The purpose of Apollo was to land a man on the Moon and return him safely [before the Soviets did it]. The Apollo program is a stunt no one will match. Going to Mars will be more difficult, but it's this difficulty is unlikely to be appreciated- even advocates of doing it don't appear to appreciate how hard it will be to do. But even imagining the flying to Mars will be as exciting or more exciting, you still have the problem of being finished- whatever excitement fades, and people wonder why so much money continues to be spent doing something already done.

I don't consider this a stunt at all.  This is an invaluable process that will be needed regardless of any mission selected that's long duration in nature.

Offline SpacexULA

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #31 on: 04/16/2012 07:27 pm »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return.  No landing, no in space vehicles beyond the hab, return module, and propulsion stage.  Just a basic focused mission.  I believe this would have the highest probability of success and the achievements gained in this focused mission could be applied to a followup focused mission (landing on Mars).

The whole point of flexible path is to give as many milestones in series as possible.  So a Mars flyby done in a flexible path fashion would include something along the lines of:

-1st Lunar Flyby, first in 50 years (using just the return capsule for the Mars Mission)

-1st EML1 or EML2 station, using the Capsule and Crew Compartment of a Mars Mission

-1st NEO Flyby using the full up hardware of the Mars Flyby Mission, but with a shorter mission duration to test out systems (say a 1 year mission duration).

-1st Mars/Venus/NEO flyby (depending on when you launch getting all 3 into 1 mission does not add an extremely large amount of time to the mission)

The whole point of a flexible path is to try to avoid trying to use NASA's limited budget to develop all the hardware needed for a major mission in 1 shot. 

It also makes sure to keep NASA in the headlines as much as possible.  A Lunar flyby, followed 3-4 years later by a EML1 station and depot followed 3-4 years later by a NEO flyby, follow 3-4 years later by a Mars Flyby is a much more likely system to maintain funding then ISS ending in the early 2020s and then 20 years later a Mars flyby.

« Last Edit: 04/16/2012 07:49 pm by SpacexULA »
No Bucks no Buck Rogers, but at least Flexible path gets you Twiki.

Offline neilh

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #32 on: 04/16/2012 07:46 pm »
How many election cycles do you think such a plan would last before being canceled with nothing to show for it? Part of the benefit of flexible path is that progress made is beneficial to just about any goal a future administration decides to pursue.

Why do you equate sending human on long duration missions to orbit Mars having no value?

It has no value if it gets cancelled before it happens, which is quite likely if you have a single goal which has to sustain itself through multiple election cycles/presidencies.
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #33 on: 04/16/2012 07:57 pm »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
But .. why ? Whats the value in that beyond claiming "we have done it" ?

If i had a family, with fairly limited resources, putting my grandpa on a plane to Sidney and flying him straight back so that the rest of the family can cheer him on, is NOT how i would spend my funds or energy.

I don't understand your response, please clarify.

You don't understand how household finance can be compared to NASA's finances?  Or how the purpose of an activity, whether of a family or a bureacracy, plays into those finances?

Your premise is perfectly understandable, and I quite agree that NASA is trying to do too many different things, and probably ought to focus its efforts.  But you haven't explained why this trip to Mars has so much value that it should be the primary manned exploration mission of NASA, eclipsing all others.

Why take five hundred days to go to Mars and back, when you could go to Luna and back in a week, and spend a week there assaying the ice deposits in a likely crater?  Five hundred days and millions of miles versus two weeks and half a million miles.  Same price: Use the DSH savings for the lander.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #34 on: 04/16/2012 09:40 pm »
"Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return.  No landing, no in space vehicles beyond the hab, return module, and propulsion stage.  Just a basic focused mission.  I believe this would have the highest probability of success and the achievements gained in this focused mission could be applied to a followup focused mission (landing on Mars)."

The purpose of flexible path was to give NASA a goal of going beyond LEO, and to stay at current funding levels. One could say it's building capability so is capable going to the moon and beyond.
There is little evidence of NASA actually executing this flexible path, though one could point to SLS as a solution which is in accordance with such a plan.
I think there is a reasonable doubt that NASA will get to point of building a 130 ton launcher. And I think the chance favor Musk building a 70 ton launch vehicle before NASA builds it's 70 ton launch vehicle.
I think it's reasonable question that the public could have is why is NASA building a 70 ton launch vehicle costing the tax payer billions of dollars per year which will cost 1 billion dollars per launch, when we could use a American rocket which cost tax payer nothing to develop and could be half the launch cost per launch.
A dull person could blame Musk for building such a rocket, but even if Musk fails to build such a rocket, it's not going make NASA's rocket any more successful. It's a failure at this point, and will continue to be so, nor there any plans not to make it a failure.
But the plan appears to build on this failure to then building on this failure to build the 130 ton rocket.
But no one else in the world will have a 130 ton rocket. There is no reason why anyone would build such a rocket. So it is conceivable that if NASA is successful at launching a 130 ton rocket, NASA will have the largest launcher in the world. And NASA may hold this distinction for decades or even centuries. It is also possible if NASA gets to the point launching this rocket, it will have another distinction- a major rocket with the lowest launch rate in history.

NASA is sort of following idea of having one mission- it's mission to build a large rocket.
"Block II - A fully-fledged Earth Departure Stage to be powered by three J-2X engines. This 130-metric ton rocket evolution will not debut until the 2030s."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Launch_System

So NASA is planning on spending +18 years on extremely easy mission of making a rocket.
This apparently is NASA's idea of a flexible path.

It's hard to argue that such a flexible path is a good idea. Musk wants colonies on Mars by 2030s.
If your idea is you want NASA to buy some Heavy Falcon to orbit Mars, before say 2020, I would have agree that is better than current "flexible path".
But I want introduce the idea that we have never done anything resembling a flexible path [other than not have NASA's budget increase].

What I would recommend is lunar exploration program that completed it's exploration of the Moon before the end of 2025. And go to Mars by 2030. And do all this at NASA's current budget.
This path is NOT the "flexible path" of building SLS. 
Instead it would have one or more fuel depots in space by 2015, and to have them used for Lunar and Mars exploration.
« Last Edit: 04/16/2012 10:16 pm by gbaikie »

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #35 on: 04/16/2012 09:48 pm »
gbaikie, do you have an L2 subscription?
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Offline Warren Platts

Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #36 on: 04/17/2012 01:26 am »
In reality, the only short-term project that's doable and that's more than a flyby around the Moon is going to be a mini-ISS at EML1 or EML2. From there you're halfway to the rest of the Solar System. Hopefully, they'll be working on cryogenic fuel transfer and storage at the same time.

With a Gateway Station and propellant depots, a lot of options open up, but the one immediately after the Gateway/depot that would really be both cool and enabling would be a major push to get rocket propellant from the Moon's surface. If we spent 10 or 20 years doing that, a Mars surface permanently manned research would be easier by an order of magnitude. Mars isn't going to happen any sooner than that anyways.

Don't mean to nit-pick (as I think the above suggestions are very cool), but look what you did there:
1) New space station
2) Cryogenic fuel transfer and storage
3) Rocket propellant from the Moon's surface

This is the type of complexity I'm advocating AGAINST (even though I do appreciate the feedback and think they are good ideas!).  There are too many spin offs that end up bloating the cost.

The goal should be Mars surface. Humans cannot achieve their full potential in orbit. If we are going to send humans at all, let's have them do what they do best: and that's science on planetary surfaces.

But realistically, how soon can Mars surface take place? 20 years? 30 years? 40 years?

Meanwhile, what should we doing? Just constantly marshaling our resources in orbit until that fateful day when everything is finally ready?

Or in the meantime should we be doing some great and important basic science, figuring out how to do long-term surface operations, not only designing landers but actually using them and gathering learnings as we go along?

In addition, should we not see if we can lower the cost of interplanetary spaceflight by learning how to live off the land? I mean the ultimate goal is "settlement", after all, right? At some point, the ISRU bridge must be crossed.

Now some will argue that Lunar ISRU is a waste of time and money and will never be cost effective. But that simply cannot be the case if it's actually true that more or less self-sufficient "settlements" are possible, right? I mean in order for a "settlement" to be sustainable in the long term, it simply cannot rely 100% on resources sent all the way from Earth, right?

Therefore, logically, it must be the case that ISRU is cost-effective. Because if ISRU is not cost-effective, any hope for future off-world "settlements" becomes certainly forlorn.

And if ISRU is cost-effective in 2100 or 2060, then it follows that it also must be cost-effective in 2030, does it not? Indeed, if there are any benefits to be realized from ISRU, isn't it better to realize them sooner, rather than later?

Thus, if it was up to me, I would recommend:

(1) Get the gateway going.
(2) Develop a lander, the heavier the better; 20 to 25 downmass would be ideal.
(3) Meanwhile, keep working on the depot technology.
(4) Do several exploratory sorties, with emphasis on the polar regions.
[[-----> This is where the Gateway comes in real handy: from the L points, all points on the Moon are equally accessible, and with the Gateway there to serve as a lifeboat, there's a built in abort option, and free return trajectories (which require roughly equatorial orbits) are not necessary.]]
(5) Pick a site for a permanently manned research station
(6) Focus on staying alive at first and on doing some basic science
(7) Figure out how to get rocket fuel from the Moon next.

You do all that, it's going to take some time, to be sure. Probably 10 or 20 or 30 years, depending on the level of commitment and especially on the downmass flux.

But hey, there are worse problems to have than to be bogged down on the Moon for 30 years.

Indeed, if we are not bogged down on the Moon for 30 years, all that will entail is that we will be bogged down in orbit for 30 years.

So choose your poison.

Meanwhile, after 30 years on the Moon with decades of surface operations and TRL=10 ISRU in our back pocket:

(a) the Lunar surface station (and the Gateway and ISS) will be pretty much self-sufficient in food, water, and propellant.

(b) Then we'll be able to hit the ground on Mars running!
« Last Edit: 04/17/2012 01:46 am by Warren Platts »
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #37 on: 04/17/2012 02:57 am »
Thus, if it was up to me, I would recommend:

(1) Get the gateway going.
(2) Develop a lander, the heavier the better; 20 to 25 downmass would be ideal.
(3) Meanwhile, keep working on the depot technology.
(4) Do several exploratory sorties, with emphasis on the polar regions.
[[-----> This is where the Gateway comes in real handy: from the L points, all points on the Moon are equally accessible, and with the Gateway there to serve as a lifeboat, there's a built in abort option, and free return trajectories (which require roughly equatorial orbits) are not necessary.]]
(5) Pick a site for a permanently manned research station
(6) Focus on staying alive at first and on doing some basic science
(7) Figure out how to get rocket fuel from the Moon next.

You do all that, it's going to take some time, to be sure. Probably 10 or 20 or 30 years, depending on the level of commitment and especially on the downmass flux.

But hey, there are worse problems to have than to be bogged down on the Moon for 30 years.

Indeed, if we are not bogged down on the Moon for 30 years, all that will entail is that we will be bogged down in orbit for 30 years.

So choose your poison.

Meanwhile, after 30 years on the Moon with decades of surface operations and TRL=10 ISRU in our back pocket:

(a) the Lunar surface station (and the Gateway and ISS) will be pretty much self-sufficient in food, water, and propellant.

(b) Then we'll be able to hit the ground on Mars running!
Not a bad plan.  It'll be interesting to see how close at least the first few steps are to the 180 day report that should be coming out soon.

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #38 on: 04/17/2012 06:44 am »
In reality, the only short-term project that's doable and that's more than a flyby around the Moon is going to be a mini-ISS at EML1 or EML2. From there you're halfway to the rest of the Solar System. Hopefully, they'll be working on cryogenic fuel transfer and storage at the same time.

With a Gateway Station and propellant depots, a lot of options open up, but the one immediately after the Gateway/depot that would really be both cool and enabling would be a major push to get rocket propellant from the Moon's surface. If we spent 10 or 20 years doing that, a Mars surface permanently manned research would be easier by an order of magnitude. Mars isn't going to happen any sooner than that anyways.

Don't mean to nit-pick (as I think the above suggestions are very cool), but look what you did there:
1) New space station
2) Cryogenic fuel transfer and storage
3) Rocket propellant from the Moon's surface

This is the type of complexity I'm advocating AGAINST (even though I do appreciate the feedback and think they are good ideas!).  There are too many spin offs that end up bloating the cost.

The goal should be Mars surface. Humans cannot achieve their full potential in orbit. If we are going to send humans at all, let's have them do what they do best: and that's science on planetary surfaces.

But realistically, how soon can Mars surface take place? 20 years? 30 years? 40 years?

Meanwhile, what should we doing? Just constantly marshaling our resources in orbit until that fateful day when everything is finally ready?

Or in the meantime should we be doing some great and important basic science, figuring out how to do long-term surface operations, not only designing landers but actually using them and gathering learnings as we go along?

In addition, should we not see if we can lower the cost of interplanetary spaceflight by learning how to live off the land? I mean the ultimate goal is "settlement", after all, right? At some point, the ISRU bridge must be crossed.

Now some will argue that Lunar ISRU is a waste of time and money and will never be cost effective. But that simply cannot be the case if it's actually true that more or less self-sufficient "settlements" are possible, right? I mean in order for a "settlement" to be sustainable in the long term, it simply cannot rely 100% on resources sent all the way from Earth, right?

Therefore, logically, it must be the case that ISRU is cost-effective. Because if ISRU is not cost-effective, any hope for future off-world "settlements" becomes certainly forlorn.

And if ISRU is cost-effective in 2100 or 2060, then it follows that it also must be cost-effective in 2030, does it not? Indeed, if there are any benefits to be realized from ISRU, isn't it better to realize them sooner, rather than later?

Thus, if it was up to me, I would recommend:

(1) Get the gateway going.
(2) Develop a lander, the heavier the better; 20 to 25 downmass would be ideal.
(3) Meanwhile, keep working on the depot technology.
(4) Do several exploratory sorties, with emphasis on the polar regions.
[[-----> This is where the Gateway comes in real handy: from the L points, all points on the Moon are equally accessible, and with the Gateway there to serve as a lifeboat, there's a built in abort option, and free return trajectories (which require roughly equatorial orbits) are not necessary.]]
(5) Pick a site for a permanently manned research station
(6) Focus on staying alive at first and on doing some basic science
(7) Figure out how to get rocket fuel from the Moon next.

You do all that, it's going to take some time, to be sure. Probably 10 or 20 or 30 years, depending on the level of commitment and especially on the downmass flux.

But hey, there are worse problems to have than to be bogged down on the Moon for 30 years.

Indeed, if we are not bogged down on the Moon for 30 years, all that will entail is that we will be bogged down in orbit for 30 years.

So choose your poison.

I don't think another 30 years in LEO is politically possible.
I think 30 year on the moon is political possible. But it will be international lunar base- that could make some very happy. I don't have problem with that, just saying that is what would happen.
I think it unnecessary for NASA to spend 30 years on the Moon. I think if NASA did that it would take itself out of the exploration business [not that one could say it's really been in it]. I would guess that Musk or others within a decade of NASA on Moon will go beyond the Moon.

The other aspect of NASA staying on the Moon for 30 or more years, is getting to the point of first year on Moon.
It seems to me that NASA if intended to stay on moon would need to get creative on the naming of their programs. Call the lunar program different things, so critics wouldn't say NASA [or President] wants to spend over a 1 trillion dollars on a Lunar program.
Without lying, if NASA had shorter program it could claim it would have far lower costs.

One is essential describing Bush senior lunar program that NASA wanted funding for:
"On July 20, 1989, the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, George H. W. Bush ó then President of the United States ó announced plans for what came to be known as the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI).
...
The 90-Day Study estimated SEIís long-term cost at approximately 500 billion dollars spread over 20 to 30 years."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Exploration_Initiative

Now, is Obama or Romney going put political capital to spend what critics will say will cost at least trillions dollar?
 Romney said he would fire anyone who suggest a 200 billion dollar lunar base. Yes if political winds were blowing strongly he might flip flop [such winds seems unlikely].
But Obama, unless he announces it as some wild campaign gamble, before the coming elections, is unlikely to go in that direction.

Generally it seems to me it's pretty risky move for a President and for NASA to propose such an idea.
I could imagine Gingrich possible taking such move, but don't think it's reasonable he going to win the primary. Gingrich would probably enjoy the prospect of big fight over this issue. It could be a bloodbath- to make the Iraq war seem like polite conversation.

Politically it's wiser, if you actually want this, to propose a lunar program which far more modest, and count on growing political support to extend it much longer. That is what people who want to go Mars first, fear what will happen. Whereas announced 30 year lunar program is not something they would fear, but instead welcome- as it seems a doomed proposal.

I would prefer that NASA focus on exploration. And I think if want NASA to spend 30 or more year somewhere, Mars would be the better choice.

« Last Edit: 04/17/2012 07:02 am by gbaikie »

Offline JimOman

Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #39 on: 04/18/2012 04:55 am »
Rather than the flexible path goal, I think NASA should have one mission in the short term (for Humans): Transport humans to orbit Mars and return
But .. why ? Whats the value in that beyond claiming "we have done it" ?

If i had a family, with fairly limited resources, putting my grandpa on a plane to Sidney and flying him straight back so that the rest of the family can cheer him on, is NOT how i would spend my funds or energy.

Flying Grandpa to Sydney doesn't advance scientific and technological knowledge bases. It doesn't accelerate and foster many different advancements in many different areas. It doesn't create thousands of jobs. It doesn't unite a nation or nations with a singular vision of a grand dream. It doesn't inspire our youth to dream big, to innovate.

As a matter of fact, I wonder how many things on Grandpa's hypothetical plane ride to Sydney came from NASA-related roots?

It's not the destination- it's the journey and how we learn along the way.

Jim













NASA National Collegiate Aerospace Scholars, 2010
CSE Student Rep, Congress 2012, 13, 14

Offline Jim

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #40 on: 04/18/2012 11:13 am »

Flying Grandpa to Sydney doesn't advance scientific and technological knowledge bases. It doesn't accelerate and foster many different advancements in many different areas. It doesn't create thousands of jobs. It doesn't unite a nation or nations with a singular vision of a grand dream. It doesn't inspire our youth to dream big, to innovate.

As a matter of fact, I wonder how many things on Grandpa's hypothetical plane ride to Sydney came from NASA-related roots?

It's not the destination- it's the journey and how we learn along the way.


the journey does nothing of what you say. 

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #41 on: 04/18/2012 12:34 pm »
Just to clarify; neither Granpa's journey, nor the journey to orbit Mars does any of that.

A counter argument would say that doing the Mars thing advances technology, and that aspect would be true; but it would be an advance necessary for a lunar base as well, and better applied to the proximate destination.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline rusty

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #42 on: 04/19/2012 07:43 am »
OP - "The hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither"
1st reply - ...With a Gateway Station and propellant depots, a lot of options open up...
That addresses the very problem mentioned by the OP by repeating it. The 'Gateway Station at EML' is a task and program without destination, only location. The claim of going 'anywhere' is not a means to achieve goals, but in reality a Flexible Path to Nowhere.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #43 on: 04/19/2012 08:04 am »
OP - "The hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither"
1st reply - ...With a Gateway Station and propellant depots, a lot of options open up...
That addresses the very problem mentioned by the OP by repeating it. The 'Gateway Station at EML' is a task and program without destination, only location. The claim of going 'anywhere' is not a means to achieve goals, but in reality a Flexible Path to Nowhere.

Arguably an orbital mission to Mars is a mission to Nowhere...

The reality is that the Gateway station is the only short term goal/destination that has the political virtue of placating both Mars First!ers and Moon First!ers. The real debate will begin once that's close to completion...
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #44 on: 04/20/2012 04:09 pm »
The best basic and focused objective should be to reduce the costs of human spaceflight. 

We should not focus on any specific destination because we are not interested in a single destination.  We are not interested in only going to Mars or the moon and forgetting about the rest of the universe. 

If our true objective is to explore and utilize space, and perhaps in the future colonize it then we need infrastructure and technology that will accomplish this goal.

With human spaceflight the primary obstacle to anything is cost.  Why do we not have a moon base?  Why do we not have a presence on Mars?  Why do we send robots to Mars, but not humans?  Why do we not have bigger space stations?  The answer to all of these questions is the cost.  Eliminating this barrier will help us in all of our objectives. 


Offline Warren Platts

Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #45 on: 04/21/2012 06:50 pm »
The best basic and focused objective should be to reduce the costs of human spaceflight. 

We should not focus on any specific destination because we are not interested in a single destination.  We are not interested in only going to Mars or the moon and forgetting about the rest of the universe. 

If our true objective is to explore and utilize space, and perhaps in the future colonize it then we need infrastructure and technology that will accomplish this goal.

With human spaceflight the primary obstacle to anything is cost.  Why do we not have a moon base?  Why do we not have a presence on Mars?  Why do we send robots to Mars, but not humans?  Why do we not have bigger space stations?  The answer to all of these questions is the cost.  Eliminating this barrier will help us in all of our objectives. 

Reducing the cost of spaceflight is an admirable goal. But if you really want to do that, there is only one actual spaceflight mission that can do that, and that is a mission to the Moon in order to get Lunar rocket fuel.

Sure, there are other things we can do to reduce the cost of spaceflight, like spending billions and billions on RLV's and SEP's, but none of those projects actually require spaceflight to achieve.

That said, I'm all for pursuing those avenues; but in the meantime, let's actually do some spaceflight, and if we are going to do spaceflight, then let's channel that spaceflight into a mission that has some promise to reduce the cost of spaceflight itself: go to the Moon for ISRU propellant.

That way we get a 2-for-1: we get our spaceflight jollies off, and we get a chance to reduce the cost of spaceflight. Going on a Mars orbital mission, while somewhat cool, would not in itself do much to reduce the cost of actual spaceflight.
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline spectre9

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #46 on: 04/22/2012 05:10 am »
It's a good goal to have but it's not the first marker post NASA is aiming for.

Near Earth Asteroids are a good target.

This demonstrates deep space exploration capabilities and matures the technologies required for longer stays in space and going a long distance from the Earth and coming back.

The big gravity well and needing to wait for a conjunction to return to Earth make Mars more difficult.

Going straight to Mars orbit is too big a first step.

Playing around on the moon is too small a first step.

Developing DSH and SEP to take Orion to an asteroid seems like a good deal to me. Do a few missions like this and the technology being used should mature quickly.

Next visit Phobos obviously needing the most capability without landing at Mars.

The first people to view the Red planet from orbit will be very lucky. I don't think I'll be that bothered they will not be landing.

Then develop a MAV. ISRU ascent stage. Possible technology demonstrators on sample return missions.

Of course you could go chemical and not the SEP but the mass penalty will be totally unaffordable. Even ISP at 450 is low and requires your IMLEO to be huge. Or IMLLO?  :P

I know Warren will say Lunar hydrogen is better but I don't believe that.

Electric propulsion is awesome just needs bucket loads of money thrown at it to up scale for human exploration needs. The investment is worth it because it allows mass efficient transport to Mars for crew and cargo. The same engines can be used with nuclear reactors for even deeper space missions.

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #47 on: 04/22/2012 08:25 am »
The best basic and focused objective should be to reduce the costs of human spaceflight. 

We should not focus on any specific destination because we are not interested in a single destination.  We are not interested in only going to Mars or the moon and forgetting about the rest of the universe. 

If our true objective is to explore and utilize space, and perhaps in the future colonize it then we need infrastructure and technology that will accomplish this goal.

With human spaceflight the primary obstacle to anything is cost.  Why do we not have a moon base?  Why do we not have a presence on Mars?  Why do we send robots to Mars, but not humans?  Why do we not have bigger space stations?  The answer to all of these questions is the cost.  Eliminating this barrier will help us in all of our objectives. 

Reducing the cost of spaceflight is an admirable goal. But if you really want to do that, there is only one actual spaceflight mission that can do that, and that is a mission to the Moon in order to get Lunar rocket fuel.
...

I would say the only way to lower cost of spaceflight is creating markets and that ultimately these markets are providing goods/services for earthlings.

A market for rocket fuel in space is fundamental and allow other markets to develop.

In order to mine lunar water, the Moon needs to be explored. In my opinion the exploration of the Moon up to the present point in time is not adequate to start lunar water mining.
The amount of additional lunar exploration is something I can't quantify, but at this point it seems, that if private interests were interested in mining lunar water, rather beginning with some mining operation, they should have as the first phase exploration of the Moon to find areas most minable or at least areas in which they can determine that some particular location is minable. And not only finding a particular location, but having enough knowledge of the location to allow planning of how might be the best way to mine the lunar water.

Other than the exploration the Moon in enough detail, another helpful aspect would to already have an existing market of rocket fuel in space. So before mining lunar water, it would better if there was a market somewhere in space for rocket fuel. There should fuel depots and spacecraft that can use such depots.
In addition one is adding some confident to idea of there some need of future rocket fuel made by mining lunar water and splitting the water into rocket fuel. Having existing rocket depots should lower the cost, of establishing the infrastructure on the lunar surface that mine and process water into rocket fuel.

Having existing depots at LEO and/or L-1 increases the value of lunar rocket fuel at the lunar surface. Or said in different way it lowers cost of using rocket fuel at the lunar surface- one can have more "recycling" or reuse of a rocket. If one *had* to choose between LEO or L-1, having fuel depot at L-1 is probably better. And if rocket fuel is sold at L-1 [because it is shipped from Earth] one can know what the price of rocket fuel is in L-1. And knowing that will help any lunar water in terms whether it is minable because at some point one will sell lunar rocket fuel at L-1.

Having rocket fuel at lunar surface [regardless of whether rocket fuel was made on the Moon] will allow other markets on the Moon. If one can buy rocket fuel at lunar surface, one could probably ship lunar samples back to earth and sell them.
Also if there rocket fuel at lunar surface, the task sending people to the moon is far easier. If one needs to put the return rocket fuel with the crew, the mass landing on the Moon is 3 times larger than compared to already having rocket fuel on the surface.
This means that there about 4 different kinds of rockets [Delta IV, Atlas V, Arianne V- Proton and perhaps even Sea Launch{- and the Falcon Heavy when it's ready}] existing on earth, today, which can land crew on the lunar surface. With the addition depots in orbit, and one can include Falcon 9, and Soyuz, and other medium launchers.

So first destination should be establishing fuel depots, followed by NASA or other party lunar exploration, followed by commerical mining on the Moon, followed by other activities on the Moon [which also could include private exploration for specific types of resources].
« Last Edit: 04/22/2012 08:36 am by gbaikie »

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #48 on: 04/23/2012 01:52 pm »
It's a good goal to have but it's not the first marker post NASA is aiming for.

Near Earth Asteroids are a good target.

This demonstrates deep space exploration capabilities and matures the technologies required for longer stays in space and going a long distance from the Earth and coming back.

The big gravity well and needing to wait for a conjunction to return to Earth make Mars more difficult.

Going straight to Mars orbit is too big a first step.

Playing around on the moon is too small a first step.

Developing DSH and SEP to take Orion to an asteroid seems like a good deal to me. Do a few missions like this and the technology being used should mature quickly.

Next visit Phobos obviously needing the most capability without landing at Mars.

The first people to view the Red planet from orbit will be very lucky. I don't think I'll be that bothered they will not be landing.

Then develop a MAV. ISRU ascent stage. Possible technology demonstrators on sample return missions.

Of course you could go chemical and not the SEP but the mass penalty will be totally unaffordable. Even ISP at 450 is low and requires your IMLEO to be huge. Or IMLLO?  :P

I know Warren will say Lunar hydrogen is better but I don't believe that.

Electric propulsion is awesome just needs bucket loads of money thrown at it to up scale for human exploration needs. The investment is worth it because it allows mass efficient transport to Mars for crew and cargo. The same engines can be used with nuclear reactors for even deeper space missions.

A big problem with NEO's as a primary initial focus is that a suitable one only comes around like once a decade. We can go to the Moon, and still do a little side mission to an asteroid every now and then if we want.

Also, while I admit that it is premature to say exactly how much Lunar materials will be worth, it is equally premature to say that they won't be worth anything. What would suck is if the US were to blow off the Moon and then have its potential unlocked by Chinese and Indian players. The the US will be faced with the choice of realigning its space program in order to play catch up, or else simply face up to the fact that it will be a second-tier player for the foreseeable future.
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #49 on: 04/23/2012 04:07 pm »
(1) The best basic and focused objective should be to reduce the costs of human spaceflight. 

(2) We should not focus on any specific destination because we are not interested in a single destination.  We are not interested in only going to Mars or the moon and forgetting about the rest of the universe. 

(3) If our true objective is to explore and utilize space, and perhaps in the future colonize it then we need infrastructure and technology that will accomplish this goal.

With human spaceflight the primary obstacle to anything is cost.  ...  Eliminating this barrier will help us in all of our objectives. 

(1) Reducing the cost of spaceflight is an admirable goal. But if you really want to do that, there is only one actual spaceflight mission that can do that, and that is a mission to the Moon in order to get Lunar rocket fuel.

Sure, there are other things we can do to reduce the cost of spaceflight, like spending billions and billions on RLV's and SEP's, but none of those projects actually require spaceflight to achieve.

That said, I'm all for pursuing those avenues; but in the meantime, let's actually do some spaceflight, and if we are going to do spaceflight, then let's channel that spaceflight into a mission that has some promise to reduce the cost of spaceflight itself: go to the Moon for ISRU propellant.

...

Reducing the cost of spaceflight is more than an admirable goal.  It may be the most imprtant goal at the moment.  For purposes of this brief comment, I'd divide HSF into two broad categories.  Earth to LEO and LEO to everywhere else.

For the first, Earth to LEO, launch costs can be reduced by reducing both manufacturing and operations costs.  For the second, I also believe that the major cost reduction will be to manufacture propellant from lunar sources.

(2) The meme of forgetting other destinations is totally incorrect; the distant destinations will not be forgotten while the proximate destinations are mastered.

The various proponents for the distant destinations willfully move the goalposts while ignoring the benefits that could be ascribed to having lower propellant delta-v costs between LEO and everywhere else.

(3)  While it is true that space based infrastructure is needed, it is also true that the infrastructure needs to be built in the right order.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline go4mars

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #50 on: 04/23/2012 07:46 pm »
Some points in here.
I think the chance favor Musk building a 70 ton launch vehicle before NASA builds it's 70 ton launch vehicle.
I think it's reasonable question that the public could have is why is NASA building a 70 ton launch vehicle costing the tax payer billions of dollars per year which will cost 1 billion dollars per launch, when we could use a American rocket which cost tax payer nothing to develop and could be half the launch cost per launch.
A dull person could blame Musk for building such a rocket...
Good so far.  But a couple things I'd like to note in your next bit:

But the plan appears to build on this failure to then building on this failure to build the 130 ton rocket.
But no one else in the world will have a 130 ton rocket. There is no reason why anyone would build such a rocket.

This 130-metric ton rocket evolution will not debut until the 2030s."

So NASA is planning on spending +18 years on extremely easy mission of making a rocket.

Actually, there are 6 uses off the top of my head that say there is likely to be a rocket that is even more capable than SLS ready in the next 18 years (none of which require government support).  You list the first and largest one.
Musk wants colonies on Mars by 2030s.

There is an untapped market of unknown size here.  Musk needs a BFR to do justice to his dream, and he's a determined billionaire who has an impressive track record for tackling big problems. 

2) BA-2100 and future competitors.

3) Really big satellites.

4) Billionaires are setting up a space mining business.

5) Tourism demand

6) Hypersonic transportation will need a really big reusable booster.

Separately, these may or may not be considered justified on their own.  Together, the case gets improves.  Add in potential uses by governments and universities, and things improve further. 
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Offline spectre9

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #51 on: 04/24/2012 02:11 pm »

A big problem with NEO's as a primary initial focus is that a suitable one only comes around like once a decade. We can go to the Moon, and still do a little side mission to an asteroid every now and then if we want.

Also, while I admit that it is premature to say exactly how much Lunar materials will be worth, it is equally premature to say that they won't be worth anything. What would suck is if the US were to blow off the Moon and then have its potential unlocked by Chinese and Indian players. The the US will be faced with the choice of realigning its space program in order to play catch up, or else simply face up to the fact that it will be a second-tier player for the foreseeable future.

Here's one.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/01/nasas-flexible-path-2025-human-mission-visit-asteroid/

There's also a few more NASA are looking at. I'll attach a document I just found.

A Venus orbit NEO watcher similar to wise can be used to find even more targets.

Lunar materials will only be worth something when the cost of humans getting at them is much lower.

If cheap access to the moon is somehow possible there might be some investments made.

All possible claims over the cold traps are still theoretical. It might still be an option to keep such areas pristine for the science.

I guess there's only one way to find out for sure.

Global Lunar surface access.

Although I wouldn't agree NASA needs such a capability in the short term nobody has landed on the moon in my lifetime (born in the 80s) and it would be kinda cool to see.
« Last Edit: 04/24/2012 02:12 pm by spectre9 »

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #52 on: 04/24/2012 03:04 pm »
Lunar materials will only be worth something when the cost of humans getting at them is much lower.

If cheap access to the moon is somehow possible there might be some investments made.

Going to asteroids isn't going to be cheap. It will require long-term habitation and somehow the radiation issue will have to be tackled.

Quote
All possible claims over the cold traps are still theoretical. It might still be an option to keep such areas pristine for the science.

LCROSS directly confirmed the theoretical predictions. As for keeping such areas pristine for science, some will, some won't.

Quote
I guess there's only one way to find out for sure.

Global Lunar surface access.

If you ever want to go to Mars, it would be a good idea to build a Lunar lander sooner rather than later, in order to work out the kinks and get the reliability up before that first Mars landing.
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline spectre9

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #53 on: 04/24/2012 03:08 pm »
I mean possible legal claims.

LCROSS did change Luna forever. Why no robotic precursor planned here?

Offline Proponent

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Re: Basic and Focused Human Nasa Mission Objective Best
« Reply #54 on: 04/25/2012 01:31 am »
Actually, LRO/LCROSS was a robotic precursor:  it was paid for by the HSF people at NASA, though it was turned over to the scientists after a year's operation.

Next year's LADEE mission might be regarded as having originated as a robotic precursor.

Additional robotic missions were planned.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2012 01:34 am by Proponent »

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