Author Topic: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?  (Read 43463 times)

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #80 on: 06/14/2016 12:03 am »
My opinion: Until SpaceX puts a lander on the lunar surface there will be no Americans on the moon.

That can happen very quickly and remarkably cheaply. Why it doesn't is more telling.

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NASA is not going to do it - no money. Nobody else is going to do it - no money. Except the Chinese might do it. It's either going to be SpaceX or the Chinese.

The Chinese have to conquer much internally to do this, and Congress won't goad them on. Sometimes think that some in Congress are more PO'd with SX then both the Chinese and Russians combined ;) NASA might put more hardware on Mars with SX unfunded than funded ;)

Quote
NASA's best days are behind them because of its funding profile. NASA is funded by people who don't give 2 craps about NASA. End of story.
Need to add the underlining for some here.

Isn't it interesting that we have a private company with a more sincere, believable, and funded Mars program ... than the major world governments can even articulate getting a minimal lunar, or even beyond LEO HSF program (EM2 doesn't count)? And he's declared a mission, with a NET, with largely present hardware of today.

We went to the moon decades ago, but apparently the "been there, done that" bit got set in all political leaders minds as a result. Just used as a meaningless phrase to poke with by all of them, as no credible efforts since, including Constellation. Missions are the only thing that matter.

Who else on earth will name a Mars or Moon mission with a NET, leading to HSF there? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Offline robertinventor

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #81 on: 06/21/2016 07:01 pm »
I think our priority right now is to find out about the Moon, as you can't really design your missions until you know where you are going and why. Are the lunar caves the best place to go, or the poles? Or somewhere else?

So, I'd say, prioritize lunar mapping and landers, get landers back there for the first time since lunakhod. Luckily the private sector is doing this with Lunar X so to encourage that, more of that. Back in the 1970s the best way to do that was to send humans, probably. But now, I think we should do this reconnaissance phase with robots. I don't think 8 years is short enough for humans back on the Moon without a major push. Right now the lunar caves and the polar ice are theoretical. We know there are pits there which they think lead into long lava tube caves - but so far we can only see about 5 meters into those caves if they exist. We know that there is some ice at the poles from LCROSS but we don't know what form it takes and have conflicting data on how much there is and where it is.

Everyone is drawing up elaborate plans based on their interpretations of the data, but what if they are wrong? There's always going to be that question until we know more. While if we know for sure what's there, then it will be much easier to motivate people and to plan properly. As well as the caves at the poles and the ice, there's Dennis Wingo's suggestion of platinum rich ores on the Moon, due to iron meteorite impact, and possibly also due to the core of the 110 km asteroid that formed the Aitken basin. Also the idea that there might be ice in permanently shadowed regions further from the poles or even maybe ice deep down. And what about the geologically active recent features like the Ina depression - is there anything interesting there? And could there be ice deep down?

Also what are the scientifically most interesting sites that need to be preserved? We need to know, not just where humans should land, but also, places that perhaps are best studied robotically. Wherever humans go they will bring organics and wastes that will confuse scientific study, as has already happened in analysis of Apollo soil samples for small trace amounts of naturally forming organics. Also the larger rockets needed to land humans mean more need for rocket fuel which is another site contaminant wherever they land. Luckily the Moon's surface is huge and there isn't much by way of processes to move material around - so you can always explore a pristine square kilometer a few kilometers from your base - but there are some smaller areas of scientific study at the poles, or individual lunar caves, and amongst all of those there may be some of special scientific interest that may not be the best for a human base at an early stage. For instance Dennis Wingo suggested siting all commercial Moon exploitation at the North pole and leave the Aitken basin relatively undisturbed for science study. But is that right, or indeed, is it even the other way around, or should particular areas at each pole be best for exploitation and others for science? These are questions we could decide at an early stage with a good enough set of preliminary survey missions first.

So - I think that's our focus first. The more we put behind this, the more missions like this now, then the sooner we can find out about the Moon. While if we just spend the time planning human missions in great detail, we may not send them to the right place on the Moon and may miss opportunities for much better sites to visit based on a more detailed understanding of the Moon. Which I think may still have many surprises in store, probably including unexpected things nobody has predicted yet.

These sorts of questions can probably be answered for less cost and more quickly using robots. And the photos those robots take and the discoveries they make can help to excite people about returning to the Moon as well.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #82 on: 06/25/2016 05:19 pm »
No. I was talking about the Mars mission designed by NASA when asked by the elder president Bush.

From Wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Direct

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By December 1990, a study to estimate the project's cost determined that long-term expenditure would total approximately 450 billion dollars spread over 20 to 30 years.[3] The "90 Day Study" as it came to be known, evoked a hostile Congressional reaction towards SEI given that it would have required the largest single government expenditure since World War II.[4] Within a year, all funding requests for SEI had been denied.

How is that a surprise.  Have you see the ISS?  That was designed to use the most shuttle flights possible and spread the wealth around the NASA centers.  A Skylab type space station could have done as much as the ISS and be on orbit in a few super heavy launches.  It's not about cost effectiveness it's about jobs in congressional district.

It took me years to get to the point of thinking the NASA budget is fine where it's at.  The problem is pork projects like ISS and the JWST.  Not that this is strictly a NASA problem.  Defense spending is brutally inefficient as well.

NASA is still stuck in the mind set of big gestures like Apollo, Shuttle, ISS.  Building up Lunar capacity and a lunar village could be done incrementally.  Add capacity and capability and people over time.  I look at it this way the ISS will be on orbit for 25-30 years then it will be dumped in the pacific.  If there was 2-3 missions to the Moon each year, how much would there be in 25 years?  And it could continue to be used and built on. 

The law makers of the 80's and 90's, didn't want to 'just repeat' Apollo.  They lacked vision.  The newer generation didn't see Apollo, I don't think they expect they have to have Mega projects like Apollo. 

I think the Moon is next and that it's coming soon.  Sometime in the next 5-10 years, hopefully less.
Needing a copy of 'Tales of Suspense #39'

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #83 on: 06/26/2016 12:41 am »
ISS was built up incrementally, remember.  So, yes, it was a big NASA project and involved a lot of Shuttle flights.  But it wasn't a "we're spending this money and you'll have a full-fledged space station next month" Big Gesture.  It was a "we're starting this, it's gonna be incredible!" followed by dozens upon dozens of iterations of "look what we just added!" and "look what people on the station just did!" events.

As a Big Gesture, ISS was/is not only trumpeted for just plain existing, each incremental addition could be trumpeted, making the PR value of the Big Gesture last for more than a decade.  What makes you think that NASA wouldn't do the same thing with an incrementally built-up lunar village?

After all, with enough PR people working on it, you can make almost anything a Big Gesture... and one that goes on and on with additions and upgrades is just what the PR people ordered!  ;)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #84 on: 06/26/2016 07:40 am »
If we are planning a Moon base it will need published standards for many things. Such standards can be written fairly cheaply. Update after 1 year and then every 5 years.

Since the Moon has gravity inter-habitat berthing modules will have to contain doors that will allow men to walk through without stooping.

Other standards include:
* air content and quality including pressure
* radiation levels inside
* lunar radiation levels outside
* temperature inside
* lunar temperature range and vacuum pressure outside
* lighting levels
* electrical power including voltage levels
* sound levels
* suitports
* docking ports between landers, habitats and ground vehicles
* cargo containers
* consumables including oxygen, lox, water and propellant

Offline clongton

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #85 on: 06/26/2016 01:07 pm »
Lander - Lander - Lander. How many times do I have to say this? NOTHING will happen without a good lander. THAT is what we should be focusing on. Everything else comes after. NOTHING can come before.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #86 on: 06/26/2016 03:38 pm »
Lander - Lander - Lander. How many times do I have to say this? NOTHING will happen without a good lander. THAT is what we should be focusing on. Everything else comes after. NOTHING can come before.

I was hoping that the lunar lander was already in development. A Centaur-Xeus with ~5 ton payload produced under LunarCATALYST carrying a 5 ton cabin/habitat produced under NextSTEPS-2. Oh well. That level of sneakiness is not NASA's way.

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #87 on: 06/27/2016 12:40 am »
Lander - Lander - Lander. How many times do I have to say this? NOTHING will happen without a good lander. THAT is what we should be focusing on. Everything else comes after. NOTHING can come before.
NASA already tried that and gave us, Altair.
It's similar to NASA needing a big enough launcher. SLS - SLS - SLS.
SLS is a good rocket launcher- billions of dollars being spent and schedule of first launch gets push forward.

I would say that what is needed is is a good lunar program. And I would define good as short duration
and cheap. Once we get a good program, then we can get a lunar lander. Or we will need one pretty quickly.

So what would be good lunar lander, once we get a good lunar program.

I would say a good lunar program starts with robotic exploration of the lunar poles.
And starts with developing depot at JSC launch inclination at about 160 km by 250 km orbit. We going in solar Min period and will be in Solar Min for next 5-10 years- which has less atmosphere drag at 160 km elevation.
NASA should get to point of having a depot which can transfer LOX to another spacecraft and done robotically. So non crewed depot and focuses only on receiving and transferring LOX.
While get depot in LEO, start lunar robotic exploration and when depot is operational, send these robotic lunar missions, first to depot to be re-fueled with LOX and then go to moon and polar lunar surface.
Do many lunar robotic missions until about 2024. Then in 2024 send crew to lunar polar region, and return lunar samples. Send about 4 crewed mission to Moon and be completed before beginning of 2026. And continue robotic lunar program and end it before beginning of 2026.
Have Mars exploration program begin in 2026. Continue mars robotic explorations which currently planned and add any missions which would be critical to getting crew to Mars surface starting in 2026 and later.
Do something with ISS so NASA is not longer required to spent billions on ISS for 2025 and later.
I would recommend that "do something with ISS" not include de-orbiting ISS. There could many things which could be done with ISS other than the current fixation of the only possible solution is de-orbiting it.

So lunar exploration should take less than 10 years, and include the cost of establishing an operational depot in LEO [does not include cost of ISS], and includes all robotic and manned missions to the Moon. Does not include cost of Mars related stuff which may be done at or near the Moon. And total cost should less than 40 billion dollars.
Edit: Does include any SLS launch cost related to Lunar exploration- which unlikely robotic but could be crewed lunar missions.

The results of lunar exploration program should be to answer the question, is there commercially minable lunar water on the Moon and where are some locations which are the better sites to commercially mine lunar water.

A site would be some location which is about 1 square km in area and these "betters sites" would not all be within one region [say within 100 square km region] or one will explore sites in different locations which may be quite widely spaced from each other- could end up picking sites in both North and South poles.

These mining sites could be only found in the dark crater of the Moon, but it might possible there might be mining sites which are not in the permanently shadowed crates. And for example, other aspects of being minable would be related to the availability of solar energy near the site, and the accessibility to radio signals from Earth.

So when lunar exploration ends NASA will have quantified various sites in lunar poles in regard to prospects
of future mining, and NASA will have returned lunar samples from such regions which could/would be studied for years thereafter. Or samples usefulness could go beyond the limited purpose of mining lunar water.

So the lunar exploration program does not include cost of building a lunar base, nor cost of NASA mining lunar water, but rather focused where there is minable lunar water, and where there is minable water would be related to where some future lunar base might be located.
But idea is that NASA should finish exploring the Moon, so that NASA can than focus on exploring Mars and such a plan can allow a seamless transition time period from Lunar to Mars exploration.
Or Lunar exploration will enable "some party" to plan such things as lunar water mining and building bases- and it's possible the "some party" includes NASA. It's possible because Congress could decide to increase NASA budget to allow NASA to build a lunar base while at same time it continues to fund Mars exploration.

An important aspect is having low cost of lunar program and to complete program on time and within budget
costs, which had been projected to a have cost. And see this as faster way to get to Mars exploration program, as compared to a "Mars only focus" which appears to not go anywhere.

Were NASA to explore the Moon, and commercial lunar mining to start immediately, this would not clearly be seen to lower cost of Mars exploration.
Or let's say cost of rocket fuel at EML-1 was $5000 per kg right now [which it isn't and we have no real idea what price would actually be. After NASA established a depot at LEO- we could have a better clue].
And we finish exploring Moon and NASA buys rocket fuel for Mars exploration at EML-1 for 5000 kg.
Once lunar mining starts and once it delivers rocket fuel to EML-1, it's going to sell rocket fuel at or near price
that rocket fuel is delivered from Earth. And for period of 10 years earth and Moon could be selling at prices which are competitive [meaning around the same price].

Another aspect is that the price of rocket fuel at EML-1 could have little to do the the NASA program costs.
Or if price was $1000 or $10,000 per kg, its not big effect. Or $1000 per kg is 1 million per ton- 100 tons 100 million, compared to 1 billion at 10,000 kg. So per year, how many tons are needed. 100 tons at EML-1 equals about 6 Falcon heavy launches or few SLS launches.
So does Mars exploration need 6 Falcon Heavy to go to EML-1 per year, or 12 Falcon per trip to mars which has window every 2 years?
Or I think most of payload going to Mars [particularly in the first 10 years] will not be crew related. Or stuff which can directly launched from Earth to Mars trajectory- and land on Mars with 2 to 10 tons payloads.
Another thing is if dependent on Moon rocket fuel, are going to prohibit any lunar competition. Or decree all must come from the Moon.
Or quite simply if wanted to lower cost, you would cancel SLS, now, and use Falcon launchers and use other commercial launcher- that lower costs by significant factor.

But commercial lunar water would lower NASA Exploration cost in other ways other than a simple price of rocket fuel. For someone to start lunar water mining will require buying earth launches. So lunar water mining will increase earth launches, and more earth launches will lower cost of each earth launch. So NASA earth launches to Mars will be cheaper, and this lowers price or rocket fuel at EML-1. Plus that lunar rocket fuel could be competitive with earth launches, will lower cost for NASA Mars exploration.

BUT what is far more significant, is why is NASA exploring Mars? The answer should to lower the cost of future
Mars settlements [which includes having less dead Mars settlers, dead because they lacked the knowledge which otherwise be gain from NASA Mars exploration]. So NASA mars exploration should focus on if and where there could be viable Mars settlements. And lunar water mining could very significantly lower the cost of Mars settlers getting to Mars.
So lunar water mining would factor in NASA "finding" that Mars as viable place for Mars settlements.

« Last Edit: 06/27/2016 01:09 am by gbaikie »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #88 on: 06/27/2016 12:56 am »
Altair was too big and the cabin way too high from the surface. A more resonable design is needed and has been discussed many time here over the years...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #89 on: 06/27/2016 02:09 am »
Altair was too big and the cabin way too high from the surface. A more resonable design is needed and has been discussed many time here over the years...

Can't argue it's not a bad design, but part bad design due to not knowing what it's suppose to do.
And if lunar lander in near term are landing robotic mission, I don't think one gets the result of the Altair.
Rather then focus weeks of living quarters for crew, one focuses on getting a robots and/or cargo to the lunar surface.
I think a lunar hopper for robot or crew might something to consider and if have hopper, your crew stays might
limited to 5 days or less.
And the hopper might be used to land on lunar surface- if assume it's the second stage of lunar lander. And maybe if second stage, the hopper is part of return lander.
Or can robotic rover on lunar surface be modified to move crew around- or your robotic rover might be something similar to the Apollo manned rover.
Musk dreamed of putting greenhouse on Mars- why not greenhouse on the Moon. Or inflatable tent with say 2.5 to 3 psi. So put inflatable tent on Moon via robotic operation. If got tent on lunar surface send crew with open cockpit.

So we talking about polar regions. A region where sun is always just above horizon. Or level ground is colder than level ground on Mars when either are sunlit. So could want "greenhouse" to warm the ground. If ground warmed, crew could sleep in it [could sleep anyhow even if wasn't warmed, but could be easier]. And not that you want crew spending much time sleeping- might plan it so most sleeping time is done in orbit.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #90 on: 06/27/2016 02:32 am »
Splitting water produces the propellants hydrogen and oxygen. Some minerals can be split to produce LOX (oxygen) and say a metal. The LOX can be sold as propellant. Settlers can probably find a use for most materials.

Can commercially viable chemical process be devised that produce LOX from about 3 lunar minerals and sun light?
Three mines are likely to be more expensive to operate than a single water mine but may still be viable.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #91 on: 06/27/2016 03:31 am »
What you can get out of lunar rocks depends on where on the Moon you happen to be, and what rock suite is predominant.

If you're going to set up on the rim of Shackleton crater, for example, you're going to find almost entirely highland rocks.  These have a lot of aluminum, and depending on relative abundances of different highland species, you can have a fair amount of iron, magnesium and calcium also bound up in these rocks.  The non-metallic element included in these rocks (mostly in the anorthosite that contains the aluminum), of course, is oxygen.  The non-anorthositic components of the highland rocks tend to be olivine and pyroxene, and high-magnesium species come from deeper in the original magma-ocean crust, which solidified after the ferroan (iron-rich) aluminous rocks but before the KREEP rocks, which are not very common anywhere on the Moon.

If you set up on the mare somewhere, you've got a vast majority of lunar basalt available.  These basalts have a lot of pyroxene and olivine, although a lot of them do feature thin laths of plagioclase (an anorthositic mineral).  Also included in the basalts in terms of useful items are calcium, potassium, magnesium and, in some mare lavas, titanium.  If you're looking for titanium, though, you've got to go to the right place -- only some of the lunar mare are high in titanium, while others are very low in it and are usually commensurately higher in magnesium.

All of the basalts do contain oxygen, of course.

Importantly, almost none of the rocks you will find on the surface are hydrated (the percentage of apatite is extremely low), and so there is little to no hydrogen bound up in the rocks you can scoop up off the surface in most places.

Me, I've always thought that for a long-term resource, the high-Ti mare basalts would be worth mining, at least for use in situ for building things like really strong pressurized compartments for lunar bases.  And also, of course, for building spacecraft and rockets on the Moon.  Titanium is a rather rare metal on Earth, as well -- if it could be harvested from the Moon, and transport costs could be made to come down an order of magnitude or two, it could even become economical to mine it for use on Earth.  But such things would be way, way far down the line from the OP's original speculations about what can be done in a single President's potential 8 years in office.

Even an infrastructure that uses relatively simple solar magnifiers to roast rocks and drive off oxygen may be well beyond what can be landed on the lunar surface and made to operate effectively in less than a decade...
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #92 on: 06/27/2016 11:21 am »
What you can get out of lunar rocks depends on where on the Moon you happen to be, and what rock suite is predominant.

If you're going to set up on the rim of Shackleton crater, for example, you're going to find almost entirely highland rocks.  These have a lot of aluminum, and depending on relative abundances of different highland species, you can have a fair amount of iron, magnesium and calcium also bound up in these rocks.  The non-metallic element included in these rocks (mostly in the anorthosite that contains the aluminum), of course, is oxygen.  The non-anorthositic components of the highland rocks tend to be olivine and pyroxene, and high-magnesium species come from deeper in the original magma-ocean crust, which solidified after the ferroan (iron-rich) aluminous rocks but before the KREEP rocks, which are not very common anywhere on the Moon.

If you set up on the mare somewhere, you've got a vast majority of lunar basalt available.  These basalts have a lot of pyroxene and olivine, although a lot of them do feature thin laths of plagioclase (an anorthositic mineral).  Also included in the basalts in terms of useful items are calcium, potassium, magnesium and, in some mare lavas, titanium.  If you're looking for titanium, though, you've got to go to the right place -- only some of the lunar mare are high in titanium, while others are very low in it and are usually commensurately higher in magnesium.

All of the basalts do contain oxygen, of course.

Importantly, almost none of the rocks you will find on the surface are hydrated (the percentage of apatite is extremely low), and so there is little to no hydrogen bound up in the rocks you can scoop up off the surface in most places.
{snip}

Practically any material that burns can be used to power a rover or a Moon base at night.

For the next 5 years (start 2016) there is a reasonable hope of landing 100 kg payloads at $2,000,000 a kg on the Moon.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #93 on: 06/27/2016 03:23 pm »
Gbaikie had it right with robotic missions to find polar water.

This may even extend to NASA funded commercial pilot plant (<1t per year).

Getting to this stage would take a good 8years.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #94 on: 06/27/2016 03:43 pm »
Altair was too big and the cabin way too high from the surface. A more resonable design is needed and has been discussed many time here over the years...

Can't argue it's not a bad design, but part bad design due to not knowing what it's suppose to do.
And if lunar lander in near term are landing robotic mission, I don't think one gets the result of the Altair.
Rather then focus weeks of living quarters for crew, one focuses on getting a robots and/or cargo to the lunar surface.
I think a lunar hopper for robot or crew might something to consider and if have hopper, your crew stays might
limited to 5 days or less.
And the hopper might be used to land on lunar surface- if assume it's the second stage of lunar lander. And maybe if second stage, the hopper is part of return lander.
Or can robotic rover on lunar surface be modified to move crew around- or your robotic rover might be something similar to the Apollo manned rover.
Musk dreamed of putting greenhouse on Mars- why not greenhouse on the Moon. Or inflatable tent with say 2.5 to 3 psi. So put inflatable tent on Moon via robotic operation. If got tent on lunar surface send crew with open cockpit.

So we talking about polar regions. A region where sun is always just above horizon. Or level ground is colder than level ground on Mars when either are sunlit. So could want "greenhouse" to warm the ground. If ground warmed, crew could sleep in it [could sleep anyhow even if wasn't warmed, but could be easier]. And not that you want crew spending much time sleeping- might plan it so most sleeping time is done in orbit.
I like the idea of telerobotics with the such a small signal delay could even be operated from Earth. John Glen promoted this a few years back. A separate hab would allow for a smaller reusable lander as well.
« Last Edit: 06/27/2016 03:46 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #95 on: 06/27/2016 05:46 pm »
Lander - Lander - Lander. How many times do I have to say this? NOTHING will happen without a good lander. THAT is what we should be focusing on. Everything else comes after. NOTHING can come before.

Well maybe not 'nothing' but it's a good point.

What aspects or systems of the lander can be broken out and developed quietly or with other funds and can be sold as being later used for Mars?

Landing technology?
Propulsion?
Life support?
Needing a copy of 'Tales of Suspense #39'

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #96 on: 06/27/2016 06:51 pm »
Lander - Lander - Lander. How many times do I have to say this? NOTHING will happen without a good lander. THAT is what we should be focusing on. Everything else comes after. NOTHING can come before.

Well maybe not 'nothing' but it's a good point.

What aspects or systems of the lander can be broken out and developed quietly or with other funds and can be sold as being later used for Mars?

Landing technology?
Propulsion?
Life support?
Well if you developed an ascent vehicle that was its own descent stage (and refueled on the surface for ascent), then you'd have a single-stage lunar lander.

So a Mars lander would be perfectly capable of operating as a lunar lander.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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 KelvinZero

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #97 on: 06/28/2016 12:42 am »
Well if you developed an ascent vehicle that was its own descent stage (and refueled on the surface for ascent), then you'd have a single-stage lunar lander.

So a Mars lander would be perfectly capable of operating as a lunar lander.
It is often pointed out that the Curiosity rover is about the mass of a Morris Mini.. which I think could have been an awesome final episode of Top Gear. There they go.. off into the red sunset. 8)

My point was that it is the robotic side which is heading towards actually achieving useful HSF hardware, not the HSF side.

If we were not designing everything from scratch all the time but had some sort of evolving workhorse lander perhaps a bit bigger than curiosity scale, I think that could be big enough to land two crew on the moon given plenty of infrastructure in place, refuel and return them to something in orbit. The Apollo ascent vehicle was about 4 tons but it also served as a base for a few days, delivered a rover and returned rocks.

Methane (or possibly even CO?) could be a viable choice for lunar ISRU, according to LCROSS. I think there is meant to be even more CO than H2O.
« Last Edit: 06/28/2016 12:43 am by KelvinZero »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #98 on: 06/28/2016 04:23 am »
Lander - Lander - Lander. How many times do I have to say this? NOTHING will happen without a good lander. THAT is what we should be focusing on. Everything else comes after. NOTHING can come before.

Well maybe not 'nothing' but it's a good point.

What aspects or systems of the lander can be broken out and developed quietly or with other funds and can be sold as being later used for Mars?

Landing technology?
Propulsion?
Life support?

I suspect that the lander's engines are already in development, even if officially classified as a test of 3D printing.

Things to develop:
Avionics suitable for human operation - radar, radio, lights, computers, camera etc.?
Lunar spacesuit?
Cabin?
Air lock?
Control panels?
Space suit recharging points - electricity, water, air, CO2 scrubbers etc.?
Stair case?
Space rated human rover?

Offline DougSpace

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Re: Eight year Moon mission. What can we do?
« Reply #99 on: 06/30/2016 03:57 am »
For $20 million have Masten modify one of the two Centaurs ULA has on loan to him to develop a "terrestrial demonstrator".  Demonstrating a full-sized lander undergoing the complete propulsive maneuvers would help convince people that we can afford the Moon.

Second, fully commit to the Lunar Resource Prospecting Mission

Third, purchase a block buy of about 20 Falcon Heavies ($2.7 B = 1 year of SLS & Orion funding) to secure all of the initial launches needed to develop a permanent lunar base.

Fourth, fixed-price contract for the laboratory development of and ice-harvester and hardware to produce propellant from it.  Make facilities such as the Space Power Facility available to simultaneously simulate nearly all the environmental conditions (vacuum, cryo temps, gritty regolith, suspend 5/6th weight, etc).

Fifth, develop a large, thin-walled, pancake-shaped habitat that can be unrolled and "constructed" simply by inflating it.  Demonstrate delayed telerobotic pushing of dirt on top of it prior to inflation.  Meanwhile start training the initial crew for the necessary jobs (e.g. hydroponic gardening, animal AG experiments, telerobot repairs, life-support equipment maintenance, metallurgy, machining, organic chemistry, etc).

Start by launching telerobots.  I think that enough progress could be made in eight years to make it difficult to stop.

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