Author Topic: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH  (Read 12091 times)

Offline JNobles

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It may be a dream but I hope a DIRECT type effort will commence for a Lunar system based upon the 50 ton capability of the FH.  That could happen I think.  Maybe.

I don't think NASA will do much with the FH even if it is available.  If someone approached their manager at NASA and suggested working on a lunar mission using the FH I suspect they would be encouraged to instead take the extra time (years?) to think about a lunar mission using SLS instead.

SLS has the potential to do much more damage to the American space program than simply wasting taxpayer money.  It could hold back BEO missions which could possibly be accomplished on more affordable launchers sooner.

Again, I hope a DIRECT type effort grows up around the 50 ton capability of the Falcon Heavy. 
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Offline QuantumG

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #1 on: 12/29/2011 02:04 am »
I think I know what you mean by a DIRECT type effort, but for everyone else, could you provide some detail? ;)
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #2 on: 12/29/2011 02:18 am »
If you mean like 'Mars Direct', which relied heavily on making LOX/CH4 from the Martian atmosphere for a Direct return to Earth, then you'd need lunar ice to make LOX/LH2 for refueling your return vehicle.

If you mean like the "DIRECT" guys design for a Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle, using refuelling tankers in low Earth orbit to top-up the Earth Departure stage; I'm sure that one option was shown in one of their early master architecture documents.

With Falcon Heavy - a lunar flyby and free return could be done with 1x launch, a bare-bones 2x person 'sortie' mission could be done with 2x launch and a full-fledged sortie mission superior to Apollo with a fair amount of hardware down on the lunar surface could be done with 3x launch of Falcon Heavy. Setting up a lunar outpost would require multiple launches pre-positioning assets for the base.
« Last Edit: 12/29/2011 02:23 am by MATTBLAK »
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Offline JNobles

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #3 on: 12/29/2011 02:22 am »
Quote
I think I know what you mean by a DIRECT type effort, but for everyone else, could you provide some detail?

Indeed.  Here's the WIKI link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIRECT

Basically DIRECT was an effort by many people, inside NASA and outside NASA, to show that there was a better way to meet our goals than by building the Constellation system.  It was a professional effort and some people, including me, believe it played a big part in bringing an end to Constellation.  Their presentations were well done and carried weight.  It was quite an impressive effort.

I am hoping that the same professionalism and effort could be brought to designing a lunar transport system based upon the 50 ton capability of the Falcon Heavy currently in work at Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). 

I know there are other launchers available but as far as I know none of them can touch the price-per-pound price tag that SpaceX is aiming for with the FH.

I don't know if any engineers would be interested in such a project but I think it would be a worthy one.
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #4 on: 12/29/2011 02:27 am »
Space X is a terrific outfit with an amazing bunch of people. But they have to break their current logjam of delays to justify the near-religious faith fervor that some people are putting on them. That's why my signature line is what it is: meant to show faith, but also ironically cautioning people not to put all their hope and "eggs in one basket".
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Offline QuantumG

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #5 on: 12/29/2011 02:29 am »
That's what I figured you meant but the potential for confusion is hopefully now obvious.  Any such effort would benefit from SpaceX actually flying Falcon Heavy successfully in the next 18 months.
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #6 on: 12/29/2011 02:39 am »
I also support Space X and the Falcon Heavy because if SLS is cancelled due to strangulation of funding, then Elon's bad boy will be the only game left in town. Unless of course Boeing and LockMart upgrade Delta IV-H & Atlas V with their own coin.

But getting back to Lunar missions - a number of architecture ideas exist for Mars: "Mars For Less". "Mars Direct" and a few other bare-bones missions using strings of EELV launches and teeny modules. Some have more credibility than others.

Several bare-bones lunar mission ideas are floating around. But I'd like to see some more 'guerrilla' ideas surface for a Commercial Space architecture, the same way 'DIRECT' showed how bloated CXP was in some ways.
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Offline ChefPat

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #7 on: 12/29/2011 02:41 am »
Space X is a terrific outfit with an amazing bunch of people. But they have to break their current logjam of delays to justify the near-religious faith fervor that some people are putting on them. That's why my signature line is what it is: meant to show faith, but also ironically cautioning people not to put all their hope and "eggs in one basket".
I couldn't agree more. I consider myself a certified SpaceX Fanatic, but all I want to see right now is COTS 2/3 berth at the ISS in February.
After that mission is successfully completed move on to the next, & the next, & then they can colonize the Galaxy.
« Last Edit: 12/29/2011 02:41 am by ChefPat »
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Offline simonbp

It was quite an impressive effort.

And one which was instigated and largely carried out in this very forum.

This is a very different problem than Direct, but that's not to say a collaborative effort to explore the options wouldn't be fun. The first step would to map out the decision matrix. Here's a summary of the kinds of very high-level things you'd have to decide before getting detailed:

First Rendezvous: Low Earth Orbit, High Earth Orbit, EML-1, or EML-2
Second Rendezvous: none, Lunar Orbit, EML-1, or EML-2
Require Free-Return on way to Moon: yes or no
Lander Access: Global access or just equatorial
Anytime Return: yes or no
Time on Lunar Surface: 4, 7, 14, 28 days
Reusable Lander: yes or no

So, for example, one path would to first require 14 days on the surface, global access, anytime return (the CxP requirement). Then, set the first and only rendezvous point to be EML-2 with a reusable lander. That would require launching an empty propellant depot to EML-2, filling it up with successive FH flights (direct to EML-2), flying a lander to the depot, and then launching crew to EML-2 (would require either 2x FH launches or high-energy third stage).

Or, you could build your propellant depot in low earth orbit, assemble the full return vehicle/lander/injection stage at the depot, and the proceed on the moon for a direct landing of the lander and return vehicle. This is the Project Horizon option. ;)

And many more. The point is, narrowing it down to launching with Falcon Heavy still leaves lots of fundamental trade space.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #9 on: 12/29/2011 03:06 am »
First Rendezvous: Low Earth Orbit, High Earth Orbit, EML-1, or EML-2

Don't forget lunar orbit. David L. Akin's mission mode is even easier to do with a Falcon Heavy than the original Delta IV Heavy proposal.

My summary: http://quantumg.blogspot.com/2010/10/affordable-deep-space-exploration.html
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Offline JNobles

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #10 on: 12/29/2011 05:11 am »
MATTBLAK said:
Quote
But I'd like to see some more 'guerrilla' ideas surface for a Commercial Space architecture, the same way 'DIRECT' showed how bloated CXP was in some ways.

I agree.  I can't really see NASA openly working on a system that doesn't need the SLS.  It wouldn't be politically palatable.  A 'guerrilla' effort is probably the only way to get work done on this as long as SLS exists.

I do hope this idea generates some interest among those qualified to address it.
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Offline go4mars

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #11 on: 12/29/2011 05:14 am »
Pros and cons either way:

Designing to FH constrains the missions but helps with budget and timeline, but

by the time SLS and its large payloads are ready, less expensive commercial launch systems like BFR might be available which could handle anything designed for SLS.   Designing around SLS would make missions potentially more robust than otherwise (cooler cars to drive around on the moon or elsewhere, more geophones to distribute, and such). 
« Last Edit: 12/29/2011 05:16 am by go4mars »
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #12 on: 12/29/2011 05:28 am »
I am going to assume a continuing lunar program.
Maximum mass of anything is 50 tonne.
Two things can be joined together and propellant can go up separately.

Lunar base, probably at one of the poles.
Spacestations with propellant depots at EML-1 and LEO.
A Bigelow BA 330 (or equivalent) at 20-25 mT is sufficient for this mission.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BA_330

When the spacestation is unmanned the depots can be run by mission controls on Earth.

Earth to LEO spacestation via a mixture of DreamChaser, Dragon, CST-100 and Blue Origin flying on Atlas V and Falcon 9.

Either an expendable chemical transport to take people from from LEO to the EML-1 spacestation
or a reusable chemical ferry to transport people between the two spacestations.

SEP tugs to transport propellant and heavy items between the two spacestations.

A reusable lunar lander to carry people and cargoes between EML-1 and the Moon's surface.  Initial fuel methane and LOX from Earth.  When the lunar bases ISRU is up and working this can be replaced by a reusable LOX/H2 lander.

After the unmanned lunar landings start but before the manned lunar landings send a probe to Mars from the EML-1/2 spacestation.

Buildings, rovers, sintered landing pads, sintered roads, fuel tanks, solar array farm, night time energy source, mining equipment and refining equipment on the Moon.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #13 on: 12/29/2011 05:33 am »
Pros and cons either way:

Designing to FH constrains the missions but helps with budget and timeline, but

by the time SLS and its large payloads are ready, less expensive commercial launch systems like BFR might be available which could handle anything designed for SLS.   Designing around SLS would make missions potentially more robust than otherwise (cooler cars to drive around on the moon or elsewhere, more geophones to distribute, and such). 

By the time SLS is ready to fly the FH may have small pilot ISRU plants on the Moon, permitting the design of larger plants.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #14 on: 12/29/2011 09:25 am »
Here's a guerilla Lunar Mission design I did earlier:
 
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=25486.msg755692#msg755692
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Offline mmeijeri

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #15 on: 12/29/2011 09:29 am »
It may be a dream but I hope a DIRECT type effort will commence for a Lunar system based upon the 50 ton capability of the FH.  That could happen I think.  Maybe.

It could, but we don't need even a 50mT launcher. We can comfortably go to the moon using existing EELVs and create a large market for commercial propellant launches in the process. All we need is a capsule and a lander that can accept storable propellant in orbit. If you want to go to the moon soon or if you want to stimulate commercial development of space, then you should focus on spacecraft and missions, not launchers or other infrastructure like ISRU, cryogenic depots or SEP tugs.
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Offline guru

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #16 on: 12/29/2011 10:53 pm »
http://www.nss.org/settlement/moon/ELA.html

This vehicle design has a low enough mass that it could probably be done in one launch of a Falcon Heavy. The total mass listed is 25.72 tonnes for the lander plus 27 tonnes for the propulsion stage, for a total mass of 52.72 tonnes - just under the 53 tonne payload limit.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #17 on: 12/29/2011 11:10 pm »
http://www.nss.org/settlement/moon/ELA.html

This vehicle design has a low enough mass that it could probably be done in one launch of a Falcon Heavy. The total mass listed is 25.72 tonnes for the lander plus 27 tonnes for the propulsion stage, for a total mass of 52.72 tonnes - just under the 53 tonne payload limit.

Great isn't it! They must have seen my design I did in the 1980's!! ;) (see my post from just before mmeijeri's last post)
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Offline go4mars

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #18 on: 12/29/2011 11:12 pm »
http://www.nss.org/settlement/moon/ELA.html
Very cool!  I wonder what the timing and price would be for a bare-bones FH mission like this.  With China's newly announced plans,     http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/313ff212-321b-11e1-9be2-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1hyHd8mYw , it might be a good idea to do this from a "moon treaty opt-out" perspective.  I share Bigelow's concerns.

MATTBLAK:  In addition to creative, you were a pretty good artist as a teenager. 
« Last Edit: 12/29/2011 11:16 pm by go4mars »
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: A DIRECT type effort for a Lunar system using the FH
« Reply #19 on: 12/29/2011 11:42 pm »
Thanks! If only I could draw people and animals...
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