Author Topic: Cislunar station gets thumbs up, new name in Presidentís budget request  (Read 46292 times)

Online GWH

I would be very interested to see the mission budget for ARM with LOP-G. The majority of costs I would have expected to be in the human elements and development of the propulsion element.

But now the PPE and LOP-G are separate.  ARM could be its own mission that merely take an asteroid sample to the station, and NASA is already alluding to multiple PPEs.

Offline MATTBLAK

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ARM was a contrived make-work for Orion/SLS. Spending billions to send a human crew to chip samples off a boulder that was tugged into lunar orbit is just flaky. Would be far cheaper to send a couple probes to remove good regolith and rock samples from a deep space asteroid and return them to the Earth. Hang on; isn't that being done already?!
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Online TrevorMonty

ARM was a contrived make-work for Orion/SLS. Spending billions to send a human crew to chip samples off a boulder that was tugged into lunar orbit is just flaky. Would be far cheaper to send a couple probes to remove good regolith and rock samples from a deep space asteroid and return them to the Earth. Hang on; isn't that being done already?!
The DSG would benefit future sample returns as sample can be returned to DSG. Avoids the need for small capsule for earth return stage. Low risker, lighter and larger sample container allowing for larger sample.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Don't misunderstand me; I think a 'Deep Space Gateway' might have some pretty good utility for deep space missions, even if it's just part of the infrastructure. But such a project is probably a $20 billion dollar project (worse case?). They'd have to be sure the complex would have utility that is worth the cost. If it were a fuel and servicing depot for a reusable Lander(s) that would be great. But otherwise; I'd rather see the money go into a Lander, partly or fully reusable or not.
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Online TrevorMonty

DSG maybe victim of its own success. While initial plan was to keep it simple with low operating cost, there is growing list of things people want to tack onto it. Much same as happened with ISS.

At present to doing any science BLEO involves a very expensive satellite and launch. Having the payload delivered as part of resupply mission lowers transport costs. While DSG provides power, comms , station keeping and even human intervention if need be. Payload could even be returned to earth on Orion.

Offline MATTBLAK

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A Propulsion Bus, Airlock and docking Node, Habitat Module and a 'Utility' module that can be logistics or another temporary Hab, then add some solar arrays. And then leave it as 'simple' as that. A 'Mini Mir' if you like, which is what China's Tian-He space station is pretty much going to be. And if the Docking Node had plenty of ports on it; this is a future expansion opportunity if need be. I was envisaging something not any more complex than the first few modules of ISS when it was young: Zvzeda, Zarya and the Unity Node and Airlock.
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Offline Proponent

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ARM was a contrived make-work for Orion/SLS. Spending billions to send a human crew to chip samples off a boulder that was tugged into lunar orbit is just flaky. Would be far cheaper to send a couple probes to remove good regolith and rock samples from a deep space asteroid and return them to the Earth. Hang on; isn't that being done already?!

Yeah, it was funny to watch the goalposts move.  Originally, the "reason" for putting the asteroid into lunar orbit was to ensure that it wouldn't hit earth.  That "reason" evaporated entirely once the mission became retrieving a boulder rather than a whole asteroid, but the lunar orbit remained.

Offline Proponent

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The DSG would benefit future sample returns as sample can be returned to DSG. Avoids the need for small capsule for earth return stage. Low risker, lighter and larger sample container allowing for larger sample.

Once you've got a LOP-G, there are some constructive things you can do with it.  But, if your goal were to do one of those things in the first place, you wouldn't build a LOP-G to do it.  For lunar sample return, for example, you're not going to want to spend $3+ billion a year on the LOP-G and then try to do lunar science on top of that.  Much better to spend a fraction of $3+ billion on lunar science directly, even it means doing without some marginal benefit provided by LOP-G.

Offline jongoff

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The DSG would benefit future sample returns as sample can be returned to DSG. Avoids the need for small capsule for earth return stage. Low risker, lighter and larger sample container allowing for larger sample.

Once you've got a LOP-G, there are some constructive things you can do with it.  But, if your goal were to do one of those things in the first place, you wouldn't build a LOP-G to do it.  For lunar sample return, for example, you're not going to want to spend $3+ billion a year on the LOP-G and then try to do lunar science on top of that.  Much better to spend a fraction of $3+ billion on lunar science directly, even it means doing without some marginal benefit provided by LOP-G.

I think the problem is less with the concept of LOP-G per se, but with how NASA wants to insist on having it done. I'm pretty confident that NanoRacks, or Bigelow, or SNC could probably build and deliver a workable LOP-G (including launch) for <<$500M. And I'm pretty confident that non-SLS/Orion ways of getting crew/cargo to LOP-G could also be found that would be dramatically cheaper than what is current planned. But NASA is unlikely to do it in the "maximizing bang for the buck" manner.

If NASA doesn't do LOP-G, they're not just going to write Elon a $3B/yr check and cancel SLS/Orion. They'd be funding some other bloated program of record and insisting on it using SLS/Orion. And with the budget they have, anything more ambitious with LOP-G would likely drag on until it gets canceled.

I'm not very optimistic about NASA's Human Spaceflight program achieving very much before certain congresspeople retire.

~Jon

Online envy887

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Welp. Now NASA is looking at crew rating iCPS and using it for crew because apparently EUS is nowhere in sight.

Guess we will find out what other long poles there are to flying Orion by 2021...

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/04/nasa-likely-to-fly-first-deep-space-mission-on-less-powerful-rocket

Offline MATTBLAK

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The ICPS is of course based on the Delta IV 5-meter diameter stage. It actually has pretty good upgrade potential and 'needs a home' if the Delta IV series is going away in a few years. Replace the RL-10-B2 engine with the MB60 engine - or use 2x RL-10s - modify it for multiple restarts, stretch it's propellant tanks about 30 percent and the SLS throw mass beyond LEO rises significantly... Dr Steve Pietrobon could probably give us a good idea of it's capabilities. I reckon north of 30 metric tons to TLI or TMI.

If the SLS launched pairs of these stages into LEO, inline - that would make a formidable propulsion stack to send something big beyond Low Earth Orbit. But let's not get ahead of ourselves... ;)
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Online envy887

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iCPS already does multiple restarts. It does perigee raise at the first apogee (core stage heads right into the drink), and it does TLI.

I'd be interested in IVF and boiloff management, but it can barely throw Orion to TLI as it is so that's not very helpful. It would need a major stretch, or dual launch, but SLS is in no position to support dual launch and EUS is probably no harder than major modifications to iCPS.

Switching to ACES, or at least Centaur V, would make some sense. That makes distributed lift feasible, and more than 25 t to TLI... but then what do you need SLS for?

Offline MATTBLAK

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I knew it could restart; but can it do 3x restarts? That would be the minimum for an exploration mission, I guess.
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Offline su27k

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Another lunar advocate voices his concern regarding the direction NASA is taking with LOP-G: https://denniswingo.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/the-elephant-and-the-moon/

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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The politics involved with ICPS/EUS are peculiar, as is the timing of this announcement. (It may have more to do with SLS fortunes on the whole rather than much else.)

It's very unlikely that ICPS would get much of a change other than HR, which was originally part of the program prior to DUUS/EUS arriving on the scene, in part to "accelerate" SLS/Orion missions. Extremely unlikely Centaur V.

Likely what's driving this is getting SLS to a manned mission soonest, so we're back to the pathetic EM- 1/2 missions as before.

(The only way you'd get better is if pre-positioned mission modules are placed by commercial launch providers, but even with those it might be a challenge for ICPS to reach/return from them.)

(Also wonder if this has been likely for the last few years, and that the SX lunar adventurer missions were quietly discouraged because they too much resembled a naked version of old EM-2 mission, but with it being at an accumulated price (dev plus mission cost) about 100x more - which might be politically costly, being finally large enough to be noticed by so-called fiscal conservatives and their undying love for deficit spending they've just embraced.)

You'll note the mention also of four RL10 for EUS as becoming too expensive. Given the costs accumulating for SLS, this is a surprising statement. As well as Congress allocating funds for a second tower/mobile launch platform so that ICPS and EUS can be concurrent, which also isn't pocket change.

How economics are catching up with CXP SLS is sometimes hard to decipher for us mere mortals.

Offline Archibald

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Wingo is far less a zealot than the aforementioned two, I have more respect and interest for his opinion. His concerns there are quite valid. While I'm a die-hard fan of a cislunar station, it only make sense if part of a strong program.
What is really frustrating is that there are many missions that could be done from the Gateway (not Lop-G) all the way from GEO to SEL-2.
I can tell you I've followed the story of the concept since its inception in 1999, and my HD is crammed with tech papers about it.

https://history.nasa.gov/DPT/DPT.htm

http://fiso.spiritastro.net/archivelist.htm

http://fiso.spiritastro.net/archivelist07-09.htm

(FISO and DPT are somewhat related: they are more or less the same group, among them is Harley Thronson
http://www.planetary.org/connect/our-experts/profiles/harley-thronson.html )
« Last Edit: 04/13/2018 05:09 AM by Archibald »
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Online GWH

Switching to ACES, or at least Centaur V, would make some sense. That makes distributed lift feasible, and more than 25 t to TLI... but then what do you need SLS for?
I don't have access to detailed dimension on the Centaur III vs DCSS, but they both list at 12m on Spaceflight101.com. Maybe 1m total accounting for the difference in extendable nozzle on DCSS.  Would be very interested to know what the scope of changes to the launch tower would entail.   

Centaur V would be triple the propellant mass of ICPS, roughly half that of EUS. ULA switched from Centaur to a 4 engine, 5m variant of the classic balloon tank design (heritage systems is the phrase right?) and added only 6 months to the schedule. Yet 5 years isn't enough time for the EUS... Hmm.... Centaur V should be crew rated from the get go, why invest in dead end?

As Space Ghost points out the questionably logic of rework on EUS for new engines, at the current burn rate of $2B per year on SLS, how many RL-10s can be bought for a 1 year delay?

Offline MATTBLAK

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I suggested in another thread some months back that the EUS will probably never be made and that ACES would make a decent substitute. Someone got huffy and said that would never happen and that I was just 'trolling' the SLS - and the thread was moderated for 'argument'. Anyone want to start placing their bets now as to when ACES - or at least the Centaur V - becomes the new, official EUS??

Go on; I dare y'all... ;)

EDIT: Expect the EUS to be officially cancelled soon. It may have to become the sacrificial lamb to ensure the SLS project survival - at least in the short-to-medium term. With ULA paying for a lot of the ACES/Centaur V project on their own dime(?) this could keep the elephantine costs under control for awhile. I also think the Vulcan/ACES could pick up a lot of the launch rate slack. With SLS having a low launch rate; the Vulcan and SLS could launch in mini-salvo of 1x each to place good mass into LEO for each lunar or other exploration architectures. An SLS/Centaur V or ACES should get mass into space about halfway between the Block 1 with ICPS and the EUS; so about 90 metric tons then. But Dr Pietrobon could work that out far better than I could.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2018 09:14 AM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline clongton

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What is really frustrating is that there are many missions that could be done from the Gateway (not Lop-G) ...

I've been a moon-first guy for decades so you'll forgive me if I get a little excited over lunar mission announcements, only to be followed by disappointment when examining the details. Gateway, Lop-G et al are all an astronomical waste of funding, effort and time. What DOES make sense is a permanent staging station at EML-2 that is envisioned to be the location for going to and returning from all lunar and solar system destinations. That station needs to be the central hub of all BEO exploration and exploitation policy. Once launching from and returning to that station becomes the center point of human space exploration policy then all missions to the lunar surface, planets,asteroid belt or outer moons will be designed to use it, saving tens of trillions of dollars in mission costs over time. All human exploration spacecraft would designed for exclusive use in space and be reusable for multiple missions. Thus all exploration missions would be two-tiered; flights from earth to the station in an atmosphere capable spacecraft, where crew transfer to the in-space-only exploration spacecraft and flights from the station to and from all solar system destinations. It's like driving your car to the airport and boarding a passenger plane to New Deli. It makes so much sense. All the current so-called stations are like designing a passenger aircraft when there are no airports available to fly from or go to. A permanent installation at EML-2 puts human explorers literally 1/2 way to ANYWHERE in the solar system. It's the "airport" that is vitally needed before any "passenger aircraft" makes any sense at all. I know that's a weird analogy but it is so appropriate. We need an "airport hub" at EML-2 for all our manned and some unmanned missions. It would be so much easier on everybody if we did that instead of all these one-off style so-called stations.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2018 10:40 AM by clongton »
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Offline MATTBLAK

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What do you think about 'Near Rectilinear Orbits', Chuck? I'm told they have less delta-v requirements and take less time for a reusable Lunar Lander to travel to and from the Moon and to a Station/propellant depot? If a large-ish single stage Lander were based there, with a propellant Hub that got regular top-ups from Earth commercial suppliers; it could 'plug in' to the propellant Hub which would automatically refill the Lander between missions. If Orion or some other 'shuttle' brought the crews up from Earth; this could be the Lunar Gateway. There would only need to be three docking ports in a 'Y' configuration - one for the Lander, one for a Tanker, and one for the Orion/shuttle. The Tanker would dock to it's port and there could be an automated transfer of propellants through lines and pumps running through the Gateway and into the Lander.

The Orion/shuttle then just docks with it's own port and the crew simply transfers through a tunnel and into the Lander. The crew and Lander then go out and down to the Moon and return later, transfer to Orion/shuttle and return home. When the Lander gets worn out; it can be tugged back to Earth by the Orion/shuttle and disposed of in the Earth's atmosphere at 25,000 mph. A replacement Lander goes out to the propellant Hub/Gateway for later. Cargo missions just go straight to the lunar surface.

I don't mind Robert Zubrin's recent 'Moon Direct' idea, but I think I like my variation of the above previous idea better - it's not really a new idea(s). Zubrin's craft may have been reusable, yes - but it would need a lot of delta-v to leave Earth orbit, land on the Moon, leave it and brake back into Low Earth orbit later.

EML-2 could have a larger, more sophisticated Gateway station that is multi-purpose and could have more than one Exploration 'Mothership' based there. I would like to see a SEP/Chemical hybrid propelled set of mission modules. It/they could travel to either Mars or deep space asteroids. If nuclear-electric propulsion and artificial gravity configuration ships came later; I could see Ceres, the Asteroid belt and maybe even the moons of Jupiter and Saturn in reach. Hey; a guy can dream, can't he? That's why I'm a 'Space Cadet' I guess. I only mentioned all this stuff in case Elon Musk's big plans don't pan out in the future! :( :)
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