Author Topic: ISS-based cryogenic third stages as expendable Earth-Moon tugs  (Read 21186 times)

Offline Archibald

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As the (horrible, I know) title says.

We suppose an international company. That company buy bulks of cryogenic third stages from countries willing to sell them (list below, from memory)
- USA Centaur and Delta IV second stages
- ESA HM-7 or Vinci (if build one day...)
- Russia / India RD-56
- JAXA LE-5B
- China YF-75
(and perhaps, one day - SpaceX Raptor)
The company evidently also buy a rocket ride to loft these stages into low earth orbit. Evidently no payload is carried; no GEO satellite.

Meanwhile, lunar heavy payloads (15- 20 tons) are launched and dock to the ISS.
The company provide the cryogenic stages with Soyuzautomated rendezvous and docking gear (Kurs + probe-and-drogue).
Then a booster loft the cryogenic third stage near the ISS no fly zone, the payload disengage from the space station, dock to the stage, fire, head to L1 / L2 / LLO.

This a mere expension of CSI Soyuz/ block D scheme that involve the ISS into a lunar flight.

By using the ISS for a lunar program, we don't have to wait 2028 and the end of its useful life to return beyond LEO...

Thoughts ?
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Offline Jason1701

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TRL for cryo storage is too low without extensive development work.

ISS is built for specific and low load paths. A bunch of RL-10s would tear it apart.

Offline pathfinder_01

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There was a NASA plan that used Delta IV heavy's stage to push a spacecraft that was docked at the ISS to l1. It would aerobreak back to the ISS or be picked up by the shuttle.

Offline sdsds

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Is it true there has never been a rendezvous conducted with a cryogenic stage?  By any space program?  Ever?
-- sdsds --

Offline Downix

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Is it true there has never been a rendezvous conducted with a cryogenic stage?  By any space program?  Ever?
They have with emptied ones I know of.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline Archibald

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There was a NASA plan that used Delta IV heavy's stage to push a spacecraft that was docked at the ISS to l1. It would aerobreak back to the ISS or be picked up by the shuttle.

Ah - here we go. I need a link, or a pdf !  ;) This is what I had in mind.

Only LOX/LH2 stages have enough performance margin on the difficult Earth - Moon segment (3 km/s to Earth escape, 4 km/s to low lunar orbit, with GEO and/or libration points between the two).

The best non-cryogenic stages are Block D and Breez, with a much more limited payload - a mere 8 tons.

Just reminded that Apollo 7 and 9, of course, met their S-IVBs in low Earth orbit. Heck, the Apollo 9 stage still had a big load of propellants - they later expended it into a mock TLI that send it into a heliocentric orbit.
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Offline Jorge

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Is it true there has never been a rendezvous conducted with a cryogenic stage?  By any space program?  Ever?
They have with emptied ones I know of.


That's right. To complete the picture:

No cryogenic stage has ever been part of the "active" vehicle in a rendezvous.

No in-space cryogenic propellant transfer has ever been performed.
JRF

Offline Archibald

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Jorge,

can you see any peculiar problem for rendezvous and automated docking with a modified cryogenic stage? mass and size -wise, a Centaur is similar to an ATV, but the "payload" is quite different - a big load of cold propellants that might slosh...
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Online edkyle99

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Only LOX/LH2 stages have enough performance margin on the difficult Earth - Moon segment (3 km/s to Earth escape, 4 km/s to low lunar orbit, with GEO and/or libration points between the two).

I don't think I agree with that as an absolute statement.  A storable propellant stage could perform a trans-lunar insertion burn just as well as a cryogenic propellant stage.  It would require more propellant mass, but without boiloff the upmass to LEO difference would not be as large as might be expected.  The difference could be further reduced by using a small cryo stage, launched at the last minute, as an augment to the storable stage.

No need for ISS in either case.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline sdsds

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Only LOX/LH2 stages have enough performance margin on the difficult Earth - Moon segment (3 km/s to Earth escape, 4 km/s to low lunar orbit, with GEO and/or libration points between the two).

I don't think I agree with that as an absolute statement.  A storable propellant stage could perform a trans-lunar insertion burn just as well as a cryogenic propellant stage.  It would require more propellant mass [...]

If the results shown in the attached chart are correct, there's a surprisingly easy to remember sequence of (approximated) payload capabilities.  This uses simplistic dry mass assumptions, with delta-v numbers for getting to the lunar surface from ESAS:
  TLI = 3140 m/s
  Lunar = 855 + 1911 (LOI + Descent) = 2766 m/s

For a cargo spacecraft using hydrolox propulsion for all in-space maneuvers, an ESAS CaLV launcher could put 20 mT on the lunar surface.  For a spacecraft using hypergolic propulsion for all in-space maneuvers, the same launcher puts 10 mT on the surface.  The mix-and-match approach of hydrolox TLI and hypergolic lunar propulsion yields 15 mT.

10 / 15 / 20.  Curiously easy to remember!
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Offline Archibald

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I have my own little empiric rule - that a cryogenic stage has a TLI payload roughly equal to its fully-fueled mass (in EOR mode of course).
A 15 tons Centaur has a 15 ton payload, and so forth.
Non-cryogenic (hypergolic or kerosene stages) with staged combustion and ISP around 350 - 360 seconds can place a bit less than half of their mass through TLI. Breez or Block D are around 15 - 20 tons, with a TLI payload of 8 tons+.
It's a pity there's no equivalent to Block D or Breez in other space agencies.
It is all a matter of payload, EOR style. Powerful cryogenic stages for heavy unmanned payloads, hypergolics / kerosen stages for a small manned taxi.
Soyuz and Gemini should be the models for the manned taxi. A 3500 kg Gemini housed two men for 14 days in 1966 - not bad. A lunar variant would be heavier of course, but it would also benefit from 45 years of progresses... 
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Offline Patchouli

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TRL for cryo storage is too low without extensive development work.

ISS is built for specific and low load paths. A bunch of RL-10s would tear it apart.

ISS stays in LEO it's only used as a staging point.

If you wanted to move the ISS to L1 it would be best to simply upgrade the solar cells and fit it with several VASIMR engines as it's too heavy for even an S-IVB to push to L1.
But really it would be best to simply send a Bigelow type station to L1 if you need a L1 station.

http://history.nasa.gov/DPT/Architectures/Moon%20-%20L1-Moon%20Exploration%20Architecture%20DPT%20Jun_00.pdf

Here is the link.

Looking at this concept and how much sense it makes why did they even consider the expensive architecture they used with Constellation.

It seems we can defiantly do this and use Dragon and Orion as transfer vehicle.

I wonder how much work would it take to make the Orion SM refuelable in LEO so the Atlas 552 can be used to launch it.
« Last Edit: 06/14/2011 07:24 pm by Patchouli »

Offline Robotbeat

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Only LOX/LH2 stages have enough performance margin on the difficult Earth - Moon segment (3 km/s to Earth escape, 4 km/s to low lunar orbit, with GEO and/or libration points between the two).

I don't think I agree with that as an absolute statement.  A storable propellant stage could perform a trans-lunar insertion burn just as well as a cryogenic propellant stage.  It would require more propellant mass [...]

If the results shown in the attached chart are correct, there's a surprisingly easy to remember sequence of (approximated) payload capabilities.  This uses simplistic dry mass assumptions, with delta-v numbers for getting to the lunar surface from ESAS:
  TLI = 3140 m/s
  Lunar = 855 + 1911 (LOI + Descent) = 2766 m/s

For a cargo spacecraft using hydrolox propulsion for all in-space maneuvers, an ESAS CaLV launcher could put 20 mT on the lunar surface.  For a spacecraft using hypergolic propulsion for all in-space maneuvers, the same launcher puts 10 mT on the surface.  The mix-and-match approach of hydrolox TLI and hypergolic lunar propulsion yields 15 mT.

10 / 15 / 20.  Curiously easy to remember!

There are problems with your assumptions, there... A hydrolox stage would weigh more than a hypergolic stage of the same thrust, since hydrogen is a lot less dense. That's not the end of the story, but your assumptions there are a little simplistic.
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Offline libs0n

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Only LOX/LH2 stages have enough performance margin on the difficult Earth - Moon segment (3 km/s to Earth escape, 4 km/s to low lunar orbit, with GEO and/or libration points between the two).

I don't think I agree with that as an absolute statement.  A storable propellant stage could perform a trans-lunar insertion burn just as well as a cryogenic propellant stage.  It would require more propellant mass, but without boiloff the upmass to LEO difference would not be as large as might be expected.  The difference could be further reduced by using a small cryo stage, launched at the last minute, as an augment to the storable stage.

No need for ISS in either case.

 - Ed Kyle

Ed, some thoughts for you,

1. Hydrolox injection can also be taken advantage of by injecting fuel directly into a post TLI staging area using a launch vehicle capable of TLI, like the Delta 4 Heavy, and launching the lander dry, to be fueled at the staging area, thus reducing EDS requirements.

2. Forget the EDS.  Launch a dry lunar lander to L2/L1, and then send fuel to it to, or the other way around.  I reckon a dry lunar lander can fit into the TLI of a Delta 4 Heavy or 2, and storable propellant can be shaped to whatever capability.  A modest upgrade srb boosted Delta 4 Heavy can probably send a Dragon to L2/L1, or, given the timeframe of an actual mission, the Falcon Heavy could be an option. 

3. And to support your post, mass efficient hydrolox TLI insertion is irrelevant if the heavier propellant alternative can offer a better price.  Delta 4 Heavy vs Falcon Heavy.

Offline Danderman

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We suppose an international company. That company buy bulks of cryogenic third stages from countries willing to sell them
The company evidently also buy a rocket ride to loft these stages into low earth orbit. Evidently no payload is carried; no GEO satellite.


OK, so far, this is pretty much like the CSI Lunar Express, so it sounds good at this point.


Meanwhile, lunar heavy payloads (15- 20 tons) are launched and dock to the ISS.

How exactly do these lunar heavy payloads dock with ISS, and what fraction of the injected mass is allocated to orbit matching with ISS, prox ops prop consumption, rendezvous gear, power for the rendezvous avionics, etc.?

The company provide the cryogenic stages with Soyuzautomated rendezvous and docking gear (Kurs + probe-and-drogue).
Then a booster loft the cryogenic third stage near the ISS no fly zone, the payload disengage from the space station, dock to the stage, fire, head to L1 / L2 / LLO.

This a mere expension of CSI Soyuz/ block D scheme that involve the ISS into a lunar flight.

By using the ISS for a lunar program, we don't have to wait 2028 and the end of its useful life to return beyond LEO...

Thoughts ?

Getting your hands on Kurs for the cryogenic upper stage will cost more money than you could ever imagine. Plus, your lunar heavy payload will require active Kurs to dock with the cryogenic stage, which means that the avionics of the lunar heavy payload would have to be "married" to the Kurs system - you can't just take any flight computer and hook it up to Kurs, its got to be designed for it, since Kurs handles much of the computations for docking.

Lunar Express makes lunar missions for human affordable, since it re-uses Soyuz, obviating the need to pay for Soyuz for lunar missions. Your architecture seems to make lunar missions more expensive, but for no obvious benefit other than "involving ISS".


Offline JohnFornaro

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As to the OP.   Almost absolutely.  Why not a kerolox tug?  ISP, Schmi-SP.  It could be good enough.  The environment is not too hot to keep O2 chilly, and not too cold to keep kero from freezing.  The ISS becomes Harper's Ferry.  A little town where all the railroads converged.  After the country grew up a bit, Harper's Ferry, and the ISS become a quaint LEO B&B.
« Last Edit: 07/19/2011 01:39 am by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Archibald

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Danderman,
Points noted.
Doesn't the ATV use Kurs ?
Now I see, what would be needed would be something like the Orbital Manoeuvering Vehicle imagined for Freedom 25 years ago. The OMV would be based at the ISS and use Kurs (if that save any money).

Quote
Getting your hands on Kurs for the cryogenic upper stage will cost more money than you could ever imagine.

Can you detail more ? I'm curious...

Quote
Your architecture seems to make lunar missions more expensive, but for no obvious benefit other than "involving ISS".

Certainly it is far from ideal. I vastly prefers libration point rendezvous. I imagined this  in reaction to the ongoing events - a) the ISS is already there b) the shuttle is gone, Soyuz is the only manned ship left, and on. Neither NASA nor Congress are that rational - my plan is no worse than building a SLS without any payload ;)

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Offline Danderman

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Danderman,
Points noted.
Doesn't the ATV use Kurs ?

ATV has Kurs for reference only, there are no links between the ATV Kurs and the flight computer - this means that rendezvous cannot be conducted using Kurs.


Offline Danderman

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Quote
Getting your hands on Kurs for the cryogenic upper stage will cost more money than you could ever imagine.

Can you detail more ? I'm curious...


My assertion is based on years of experience in places like NIITP in Moscow.

Offline Danderman

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Now I see, what would be needed would be something like the Orbital Manoeuvering Vehicle imagined for Freedom 25 years ago. The OMV would be based at the ISS and use Kurs (if that save any money).

Getting your hands on Kurs for the OMV would cost you more money than you can ever imagine.

Why not use Progress as a tug?

Offline Archibald

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Ah, I see where it all goes.
Kurs is the only (AFAIK - Shenzhou perhaps ?) automated docking system in the world, and the russians know that, so they sell it at a high price. The usual business of a monopolistic position, Microsoft-style.
In the end it is cheaper to buy a second-hand Soyuz or Progress with an on-board Kurs ! Kind of buying an old car just for a couple of unique spares.
Using Progress as a tug ? why not ? it reminds me of this http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AIAASpace2008PaperMarkAFoster.pdf

The PBF used a second-hand ATV as a tug.  (ATF/PBF CONOPS)
« Last Edit: 07/27/2011 06:35 am by Archibald »
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Offline douglas100

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In the end it is cheaper to buy a second-hand Soyuz or Progress with an on-board Kurs !

That would be kind of difficult since the Soyuz Kurs antennas are lost when the modules separate for entry. As for a second hand Progress, there ain't no such thing, by definition.  :)
Douglas Clark

Offline Danderman

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A "used" Progress in this context means that the function of delivering cargo to ISS has been completed, and the Progress has separated from ISS. At this point, it may be available for use for other customers.


Offline Archibald

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Back to the -astute - CSI scheme.
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/199/1
How does the Soyuz / logistic module docks with the Block D or Breeze ?
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Offline Danderman

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Back to the -astute - CSI scheme.
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/199/1
How does the Soyuz / logistic module docks with the Block D or Breeze ?


In the CSI "Lunar Express" system, the Soyuz rendezvous with the Blok-DM/Briz-M baselines Kurs-SM, but it may be possible to conduct the operation without Kurs at all, to save some mass; we also considered use of Kurs-MM.

One of the variants of the scheme would have the crew jettison the Kurs active and passive boxes prior to TLI, although that would be a bit of a nightmare, it would save ~ 150 kg of mass.

Offline Jorge

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A "used" Progress in this context means that the function of delivering cargo to ISS has been completed, and the Progress has separated from ISS. At this point, it may be available for use for other customers.



Think the Russians are still removing the Kurs boxes from Progress and stowing them on ISS for later return, even though the shuttle is no longer available to return them.
JRF

Offline Danderman

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A "used" Progress in this context means that the function of delivering cargo to ISS has been completed, and the Progress has separated from ISS. At this point, it may be available for use for other customers.



Think the Russians are still removing the Kurs boxes from Progress and stowing them on ISS for later return, even though the shuttle is no longer available to return them.

Yes - the Lunar Express bseline requires that a Kurs active box be expended. That is one of the reasons why we were looking at not using Kurs for the rendezvous as an option, or using Kurs-MM.

When Lunar Express was first presented, Roskosmos was only flying 2 Soyuz and 3 - 4 Progress per year, so Kurs boxes were available. Now, with so many additional Kurs boxes needed, there may not be enough for Lunar Express. However, there are options.

« Last Edit: 07/27/2011 06:26 pm by Danderman »

Offline Archibald

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Got to learn about Kurs - any documentation on it is welcome.
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Offline Danderman

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Got to learn about Kurs - any documentation on it is welcome.

http://niitp.ru/eng/

Offline Patchouli

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Now I see, what would be needed would be something like the Orbital Manoeuvering Vehicle imagined for Freedom 25 years ago. The OMV would be based at the ISS and use Kurs (if that save any money).

Getting your hands on Kurs for the OMV would cost you more money than you can ever imagine.

Why not use Progress as a tug?


Why stick with Kurs when the commercial vehicles are testing more advanced automated rendezvous systems?
Then there's the orbital express mission.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_Express

Maybe add an arm to the tug vehicle for greater flexibility as used on Orbital express.

The Russians are no longer the only game in town with automated docking Boeing has a more advanced system you can use.


« Last Edit: 07/28/2011 05:06 pm by Patchouli »

Offline alamo

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Is it true there has never been a rendezvous conducted with a cryogenic stage?  By any space program?  Ever?

most similar

gemini-agena
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemini_10
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemini_11
"Gemini 11 used the rocket on its Agena target vehicle to raise its apogee to 850 miles (1,370 km), the highest Earth orbit ever reached by a manned spacecraft. The perigee was 179 miles (288 km), and maximum velocity (at perigee) was 17,967 miles per hour (28,915 km/h).[2] The apogee record stands as of April 2010, even though men have achieved greater distances from Earth by flying to the Moon in the Apollo program."

Offline Robotbeat

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Very interesting... Gemini 11 docked with the Agena upperstage/spacecraft within about one orbit after Gemini launched... and about 3 hours after the Agena launched. That should make it pretty doable to rendezvous with a cryogenic stage before considerable boiloff and running just on batteries.

And this was when we had VERY little experience and a much lower level of computer technology and guidance/nav/control, etc.

EDIT:Should make a trip to EML1/2 relatively easy in a Dragon-sized capsule if it has a 1km/s on-board delta-v capability and a launch mass (including fuel) of 12mT.... If you could launch a Delta IV upper stage with 20 tons of propellant in it...
« Last Edit: 07/29/2011 05:01 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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BTW, does anyone know how much propellant would be left in the upper stage of a Delta IV Heavy upper stage if it flew with basically no payload (other than a docking adapter like LIDS or something) to LEO? (and if this is at all reasonable?) (assume RS-68a, since ULA is moving in that direction)

EDIT: Also, does anyone know how much less propellant is loaded in a Delta IV heavy upper stage when launching to LEO (versus GTO)?

EDIT:And what would it take to have a simple barrel-stretch of the Delta IV Heavy upper stage to carry more propellant? I would think this would end up being easier/cheaper than integrating a separate DIVH upper-as-a-payload on top of the DIVH upper, largely because of the pad modifications needed to support loading a payload with cryogenic propellants.
« Last Edit: 07/29/2011 05:23 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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According to this:
http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/CentaurExtensibilityForLongDuration20067270.pdf

Centaur can go for 8 to 10 hours until its last burn, maybe longer. Agena was docked to within about a third of that.
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Offline alamo

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BTW, does anyone know how much propellant would be left in the upper stage of a Delta IV Heavy upper stage if it flew with basically no payload (other than a docking adapter like LIDS or something) to LEO?

atlas centaur.. lower price..  ::)
Atlas Agena D SLV-3 LEO Payload: 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). Payload: 700 kg (1,540 lb) to a GEO.
http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/atldslv3.htm

Agena D
Gross mass: 6,821 kg (15,037 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 673 kg (1,483 lb).
http://www.astronautix.com/stages/agenad.htm

Gemini Agena Target Vehicle - space tug
Gross mass: 3,260 kg (7,180 lb).  (in LEO circa 50% remaining fuel)
http://www.astronautix.com/craft/gemhicle.htm
...............................
Gemini Centaur "target vehicle"

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/gemntaur.htm
"Such proposals might have been welcomed by the later 'cheaper, better, faster' NASA.
...
The Centaur would be launched atop a Titan II booster. The lunar Gemini spacecraft would have weighed 3,170 kg, an extra 270 kg over the basic rendezvous Gemini. The difference consisted of a backup inertial navigator and additional heat shielding for re-entry at 11 km/sec instead of 8 km/sec. This program was estimated to put an American around the moon for only $ 60 million more than the basic $ 356 million program. An even more aggressive alternative, a nine-flight program, was promised to cost only $ 8.5 million more than the basic program and fly around the moon in May 1964! This first attempt to fly Gemini to the moon was quickly suppressed, and a revision of the plan was issued only a week later, with all mention of lunar flights deleted."
...............................................................
Atlas V 401 payload to LEO 9797kg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_V
Centaur in the LEO estimate remaining fuel 75%

"Should make a trip to EML1/2 relatively easy.."




« Last Edit: 07/30/2011 02:10 pm by alamo »

Offline simonbp

Getting back to the original start of the thread, you could use ISS as a jumping-off point for Lunar or Mars missions, just not directly. Rather, you'd probably inject to a higher Earth orbit (something like GTO, at ISS inclination), do a plane change to correct plane for the transfer orbit (this is much cheaper at high orbit), and then finally inject to the Moon, Mars, etc.

The majority of the DV in this case is actually from the first burn (ISS to high orbit), so that's where the cryo stage comes in handy. After that, you migh be able to get away with storables...

Offline Archibald

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Quote

Getting your hands on Kurs for the OMV would cost you more money than you can ever imagine.


I've been reading Burroughs Dragonfly (the crisis aboard Mir) and found an interesting bit there.
Looks like Kurs was build in Ukraine, and after USSR breakup they made Russia pay a LOT for the system. Before building their own Russian Kurs, the sole solution was to develop a manual docking system, and that's how 1997 ended being a very bad year for Mir...
Looks like the Ukranian "blackmail" also explains why the "Kurs boxes" were brought back to Earth by Shuttles at some point.
...you have been found guilty by the elders of the forum of a (imaginary) vendetta against Saint Elon - BLAAASPHEMER !

Offline RBSB

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As the (horrible, I know) title says.

We suppose an international company. That company buy bulks of cryogenic third stages from countries willing to sell them
The company evidently also buy a rocket ride to loft these stages into low earth orbit. Evidently no payload is carried; no GEO satellite.

Meanwhile, lunar heavy payloads (15- 20 tons) are launched and dock to the ISS.
The company provide the cryogenic stages with Soyuzautomated rendezvous and docking gear (Kurs + probe-and-drogue).
Then a booster loft the cryogenic third stage near the ISS no fly zone, the payload disengage from the space station, dock to the stage, fire, head to L1 / L2 / LLO.
By using the ISS for a lunar program, we don't have to wait 2028 and the end of its useful life to return beyond LEO...

What are you really trying to do?  Find a way to utilize ISS or enable affordable, near term beyond LEO missions?

As far as I can tell from you description the only thing ISS provides is a place to hold a payload until the cryo stage is in orbit and the stack is ready to depart.  ISS doesn't really appear to offer much of a benefit here.  Station keeping isn't all that hard so why not just let the payload do it.  By passing the ISS avoids a rendezvous event, allows a more beneficial inclination such as 28 deg for US launches, increasing LEO performance by 10% and avoids all of the safety related issues with ISS.

Why not keep the same basic idea but just do it in a convenient LEO orbit, such as described in this presentation by Harley Thronsen.

Offline RBSB

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TRL for cryo storage is too low without extensive development work.

ISS is built for specific and low load paths. A bunch of RL-10s would tear it apart.

Can you be a bit more descriptive regarding what TRL is too low to allow a payload to rendezvous with a cryo stage in a day or so followed by an Earth departure burn of the cryo stage?

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