Author Topic: MSR mission gains traction - SLS and Orion had an eye on involvement  (Read 9400 times)

Offline chrisking0997

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 288
  • NASA Langley
  • Liked: 98
  • Likes Given: 227
seriously, is there ANYONE here who thinks this plan makes sense?  honestly to me it feels like something a group of interns came up with (or, worse, a group of people trying to increase their funding).  Thinking out of the box is fine and all, but this one is out there.

Three landings suggests to me that the team could not get all the Mars equipment on a single lander. So they split it. The original design may have assumed the launch vehicles were Atlas V or Delta II.

distributed lift or not, the thought of having one rover collect samples and just drop them on the surface and then another rover coming along later and playing an interplanetary game of pokemon go to collect said samples kinda makes my eyes fog over.  Ill readily admit Im just a software developer with zero mission planning experience...but I just cant possibly see how that plan makes sense.  I started to wonder if there werent secondary mission objectives (like proving out search and rescue processes, for example), but theres not anything I can think of that cant be done in a desert on earth.  Or, maybe Im confused and this is a decades-old plan that is not based on the capabilities we have developed with recent Mars misssions.  Or, maybe I just mis-interpreted this entire thing (wouldnt be the first time)
Tried to tell you, we did.  Listen, you did not.  Now, screwed we all are.

Offline AegeanBlue

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 511
  • Raleigh
  • Liked: 128
  • Likes Given: 40
seriously, is there ANYONE here who thinks this plan makes sense?  honestly to me it feels like something a group of interns came up with (or, worse, a group of people trying to increase their funding).  Thinking out of the box is fine and all, but this one is out there.

Three landings suggests to me that the team could not get all the Mars equipment on a single lander. So they split it. The original design may have assumed the launch vehicles were Atlas V or Delta II.

distributed lift or not, the thought of having one rover collect samples and just drop them on the surface and then another rover coming along later and playing an interplanetary game of pokemon go to collect said samples kinda makes my eyes fog over.  Ill readily admit Im just a software developer with zero mission planning experience...but I just cant possibly see how that plan makes sense.  I started to wonder if there werent secondary mission objectives (like proving out search and rescue processes, for example), but theres not anything I can think of that cant be done in a desert on earth.  Or, maybe Im confused and this is a decades-old plan that is not based on the capabilities we have developed with recent Mars misssions.  Or, maybe I just mis-interpreted this entire thing (wouldnt be the first time)

Having Mars Sample Return in one mission has historically meant great risk and great weight requirements, beyond the launch abilities of most available rockets. Furthermore a full MSR mission costs as much as three flagship missions, since not all planetary scientists are Mars specialists spending the entirety of the robotic budget on Mars has been undesirable. MSR means three things:

1. Collect Mars samples
2. Send them off Mars
3. Recover them on Earth.

Collecting good indicative samples with robots is something that literally takes years. We do not have an astronaut on Mars to eye and select unique rocks as did the Apollo astronauts. Mars's gravity well is not as strong as the Earth's, but we have never launched anything from Mars. Making a launcher requires more development than making caches. Finally getting something from Mars to Earth, while it has not happened yet, is relatively well understood. Considering that a single shot MSR would cost twice what Cassini cost and require a heavier launcher than Titan IV/Delta IV Heavy, let alone the detail that the robotic program preferred to launch Delta IIs because of their cheap cost, this is why breaking of the mission was adopted

Offline MATTBLAK

  • Elite Veteran & 'J.A.F.A'
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4430
  • 'Space Cadets' Let us; UNITE!! (crickets chirping)
  • New Zealand
  • Liked: 1183
  • Likes Given: 2287
So distributed launch/dual launch of medium-heavy boosters could accomplish the mass budget and delta-v for an MSR?
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

Offline MATTBLAK

  • Elite Veteran & 'J.A.F.A'
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4430
  • 'Space Cadets' Let us; UNITE!! (crickets chirping)
  • New Zealand
  • Liked: 1183
  • Likes Given: 2287
I'm thinking that an MSR architecture could/would be three-fold:

1: Rover collects regolith and small rocks, then rendezvous with an RTG-powered ascent vehicle that made it's ascent oxidizer by sucking in Martian CO2 and splitting it into oxygen and carbon monoxide. CO is dumped overboard but oxygen is refrigerated to make LOX and this supplements the fuel already aboard: LNG or high grade alcohol. The Rover hands off the samples to the Ascent Vehicle then backs right away.

2: The Ascent Vehicle - Option 1: flies all the way back to EML-2 and meets a crewed Orion that takes the sample capsule(s) back to Earth. Option 2: The Ascent Vehicle just flies into Martian orbit (much less delta-v) and rendezvous with a robot Earth Return vehicle powered by hypergolic motors. The ERV then either takes the samples in a hand-off, or just tugs the whole assembly back to EML-2 to a waiting Orion.

Other options of course include just flying the Martian samples straight back to Earth; no expensive crewed Orion involved. Then again; the probe return vehicle would have to be made larger and more sophisticated. I also like the idea that the robot ERV would have gone to Phobos first to get some samples there.
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

Offline AegeanBlue

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 511
  • Raleigh
  • Liked: 128
  • Likes Given: 40
The 2003 MSR mission, which is the most mature so far and only one that actually had a launch date less than 5 years before it was cancelled due to the twin failures of 1999, used a solid booster rocket dating to secret US Navy work from the 1960s. Introducing ISRU and putting it on the critical path for success only adds risk in the view of the planetary scientists. The 2020 rover does have an instrument to produce oxygen from electrolysis of CO2 into O2 and CO, but it is an experiment, not a requirement for success of the caching mission. Planetary scientists are reluctant to add risk.

Offline MATTBLAK

  • Elite Veteran & 'J.A.F.A'
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4430
  • 'Space Cadets' Let us; UNITE!! (crickets chirping)
  • New Zealand
  • Liked: 1183
  • Likes Given: 2287
A solid ascent stage is certainly a very viable option if it's only going to low Martian orbit. Another RCS system would then be needed, of course to rendezvous with an Earth Return Vehicle. Or the ERV could merely be a propulsion bus/tug that then pushes the Ascent vehicle onto TEI - avoiding a complex robotic handover of the sample cache. Whether the Ascent vehicle also includes an Earth Entry capsule or makes its way to a loitering, human crewed Orion is another thing to look into, mission architecture-wise.
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

Online EnigmaSCADA

  • Member
  • Posts: 81
  • Earth
  • Liked: 76
  • Likes Given: 0
I'd like to be convinced of the usefulness of the scientific value of having a small batch if Martian rocks here on Earth vs just investigating the same right there on Mars. Are there really reasons to bring a few chunks back that could be well characterized in-situ?
*snip*

Laboratories here on Earth are much, much, much better equipped than anything we could send to Mars. We have a lot better, larger, and more diverse instruments here on Earth that can study samples in ways we just plain can't do on Mars. Everything a rover can do has to be built in, a limitation that Earth-bound labs don't have.

A university's chemistry lab could outclass the Curiosity rover any day of the week. That's not to say the science instruments on Curiosity are bad - they are excellent, though limited in what they can do - but that they are the next best thing to having samples being studied in labs here on Earth. Having samples here on Earth is always going to be better, because we can simply do much more with them.

Plus if we come up with a novel avenue of study, or a different question to ask, we can run new tests. For example, the lunar samples that were brought back by Apollo are still being distributed to researchers today.
Yeah, I get that. But what would extra fussing around with a few kilos of Mars rocks which would almost certainly be entirely from within a tiny radius of surface area actually yield? My guess is not that much, and definitely not enough to justify the actual cost and especially the opportunity costs of funding and carrying out the mission. In my mind, the same amount of funding and time spent toward some aspect of human exploration would pay off far more in the end. Alternatively, yet another robotic mission could pay off nearly the same at a lower price point to do whatever it is that they plan to do with MSR. I work with robotics all day and am of the belief that what's available COTS blows away any rover to date. The amount of abstraction and autonomy is far beyond current rovers. Pretty much all the major industrial robot manufacturers make arms that withstand extreme environments full of dust, solvents, vibrations, etc that are quite possibly worse than the rigors of the journey to Mars and the surface of Mars with a very dexterious end effector to manipulate & handle Martian material and instruments. If there's something in particular that just NEEDS to be done with Martian rocks here on Earth I'd like to know what that is, I'm open and willing to do a 180 on my opinion depending on that.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28540
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8463
  • Likes Given: 5516
Just ask SpaceX folks to pick up the samples that 2020 is gonna cache. Will be already sealed up, just need to collect them.

Itís not as if Mars material hasnít been bombarding Earth for billions of years and vice versa. And our spacecraft to Mars have never been perfectly sterilized, either.
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 Dalhousie

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2178
  • Liked: 309
  • Likes Given: 373
Just ask SpaceX folks to pick up the samples that 2020 is gonna cache. Will be already sealed up, just need to collect them.

Itís not as if Mars material hasnít been bombarding Earth for billions of years and vice versa. And our spacecraft to Mars have never been perfectly sterilized, either.

Can we please NOT drag spacex into everything?
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Just ask SpaceX folks to pick up the samples that 2020 is gonna cache. Will be already sealed up, just need to collect them.

Itís not as if Mars material hasnít been bombarding Earth for billions of years and vice versa. And our spacecraft to Mars have never been perfectly sterilized, either.

Can we please NOT drag spacex into everything?

Why? This is exactly what SpaceX is working on...
Failure is not only an option, it's the only way to learn.
"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the custody of fire" - Gustav Mahler

Offline Dalhousie

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2178
  • Liked: 309
  • Likes Given: 373
If there's something in particular that just NEEDS to be done with Martian rocks here on Earth I'd like to know what that is, I'm open and willing to do a 180 on my opinion depending on that.

Let's see.... SEM, TEM, BSE, EDX, laser ablation stable isotope studies, laser ablation ICPMS, nanoSIMS, electron probe, ion probe (SHRIMP), proton probe (PIXE), cathodoluminescence, thin section petrography, fluid inclusion studies, reflected light microscopy, TSEM, high precision geochronology for whole rock, cosmogenic, mineral separates,and individual grains (some using the SHRIMP), fluorescence microscopy  a wide range of organic geochemistry using non-thermal decomposition (including mass spectroscopy, gas chromatography, MinIon, selective dissolution, AFM (OK that last has been tried on Mars without much success)...

That's just off the top of my head. 

Physical and chemical properties of martian fines at all scale would be very valuable for designing bearings, coatings, and materials for use on Mars.

Plus archiving of sample splits for future analysis bytechniques not yet invented.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2178
  • Liked: 309
  • Likes Given: 373
Just ask SpaceX folks to pick up the samples that 2020 is gonna cache. Will be already sealed up, just need to collect them.

Itís not as if Mars material hasnít been bombarding Earth for billions of years and vice versa. And our spacecraft to Mars have never been perfectly sterilized, either.

Can we please NOT drag spacex into everything?

Why? This is exactly what SpaceX is working on...

Because it's off topic and irrelevant and gets dragged into everything.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline clongton

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10604
  • Connecticut
    • Direct Launcher
  • Liked: 2723
  • Likes Given: 1008
Just ask SpaceX folks to pick up the samples that 2020 is gonna cache. Will be already sealed up, just need to collect them.

Itís not as if Mars material hasnít been bombarding Earth for billions of years and vice versa. And our spacecraft to Mars have never been perfectly sterilized, either.

Can we please NOT drag spacex into everything?
Why? This is exactly what SpaceX is working on...

Because whatever they are or are not working on has nothing to do with the NASA MSR mission - nothing. It is off topic!!
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Just ask SpaceX folks to pick up the samples that 2020 is gonna cache. Will be already sealed up, just need to collect them.

Itís not as if Mars material hasnít been bombarding Earth for billions of years and vice versa. And our spacecraft to Mars have never been perfectly sterilized, either.

Can we please NOT drag spacex into everything?
Why? This is exactly what SpaceX is working on...

Because whatever they are or are not working on has nothing to do with the NASA MSR mission - nothing. It is off topic!!

Edit: I wrote an answer but I think it's better to delete it.
I'm interested in the actual discussion here, not pointless arguing about what's on topic or not.
« Last Edit: 05/06/2018 05:34 PM by AbuSimbel »
Failure is not only an option, it's the only way to learn.
"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the custody of fire" - Gustav Mahler

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28540
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8463
  • Likes Given: 5516
Fine, whatever. It’s just going to get increasingly absurd for everyone to discuss overly complicated unfunded Mars plans without acknowledging the elephant in the room (actually two elephants, as any Mars surface HSF mission will make a lot of the hoops jumped through for MSR architectures look ridiculous). But at least it has been mentioned. We can continue on with the fictional Mars sample return architecture.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2018 12:45 AM by Robotbeat »
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

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28540
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8463
  • Likes Given: 5516
It wasn’t out of line to mention commercial partners. The article mentions commercial cooperation (including launch on a SpaceX launch vehicle as “backup”) multiple times: “it is highly likely NASA would look to both the commercial and international sectors as partners to conduct such an MSR mission.”

So blame the article and NASA for dragging SpaceX into it.

...and BFS is basically the only way to do this anywhere near the planned 2024, as BFS is literally the only Mars ascent vehicle actively under development right now.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2018 12:53 AM by Robotbeat »
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 Negan

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 359
  • Southwest
  • Liked: 81
  • Likes Given: 289
There's some revealing cost information in this document. Commercial alternatives should definitely be considered.

https://www.nap.edu/resource/13117/App%20G%2009_Mars-Sample-Return-Lander.pdf

Offline redliox

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1943
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 387
  • Likes Given: 64
Robert Zubrin would argue MSR could be done with a single flight assuming some ISRU even without SLS.  On the other hand Blackstar (among many insiders or otherwise tech-savy folk) says the technology for an ascent to Mars orbit actually exists now even without using ISRU.  However either way progress seems painfully slow for the moment....

...emphasis on moment.  ESA's interest is promising, and ultimately I'd like to see what is offered on the table that will succeed the 2020 rover's sampling efforts.

Getting back to the thread though, trying to throw SLS and (especially) Orion into the mix seems too political, if not just foolish overkill.  A smaller rocket, either from ULA or SpaceX, could do the job more efficiently and cheaply.  If SLS is going to be used at least add a a permanent relay orbiter into the mix along with a return lander that can send the samples back directly to Earth.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline Dalhousie

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2178
  • Liked: 309
  • Likes Given: 373
Robert Zubrin would argue MSR could be done with a single flight assuming some ISRU even without SLS.  On the other hand Blackstar (among many insiders or otherwise tech-savy folk) says the technology for an ascent to Mars orbit actually exists now even without using ISRU.  However either way progress seems painfully slow for the moment....

...emphasis on moment.  ESA's interest is promising, and ultimately I'd like to see what is offered on the table that will succeed the 2020 rover's sampling efforts.

Getting back to the thread though, trying to throw SLS and (especially) Orion into the mix seems too political, if not just foolish overkill.  A smaller rocket, either from ULA or SpaceX, could do the job more efficiently and cheaply.  If SLS is going to be used at least add a a permanent relay orbiter into the mix along with a return lander that can send the samples back directly to Earth.

It does seem to make it excessively complex.  the real thing that people are concerned about is back contamination. However it would seem easier to be to ensure that your Earth entry capsule would survive lithobraking.  you could even design this in to avoid the complexities of parachutes and other devices.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28540
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8463
  • Likes Given: 5516
Robert Zubrin would argue MSR could be done with a single flight assuming some ISRU even without SLS.  On the other hand Blackstar (among many insiders or otherwise tech-savy folk) says the technology for an ascent to Mars orbit actually exists now even without using ISRU.  ...
True. Just a couple solid or hypergolic stages would do it. mars' thin atmosphere helps a lot with the usually-brutal scaling laws for small rockets.
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

Tags: