Author Topic: “Plan D for Outer Space” - NASA updates EM-2 mission baseline  (Read 10826 times)

Offline woods170

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{snip}
Simply put: testing an ECLSS on board an unmanned spacecraft is like testing the driving experience of a car without the car rolling so much as an inch: it is pointless.

Hence all the crap the ASAP was making about the original flight profile of EM-2. The first manned flight of Orion, with a brand-new, not-flight-tested ECLSS. And it was to go straight to the Moon. The compromise they have now come up with is not committing to TLI until more than 24 hours after launch. If the ECLSS throws a fit the crew will simply not perform the TLI burn and reenter as soon as possible.

That is why the test sequence I gave in reply #8 starts with people locked up in an Orion for 2 weeks. All the parts of the ECLSS have to work, if something fails then it is easy to get them out. The second part of the test ensures that flying the ECLSS does not cause any problems without risking any lives. Even empty temperature controls and fans still have to work. The third part tests Orion and ECLSS with people inside.

The second part (all-up ECLSS on an uncrewed orbiting vehicle) will absolutely not happen on Orion: they go straight from people-in-the-loop testing on the ground to all-up manned test in orbit.

There is no in-between step in this case, given that EM-1 carries only a partial ECS, without most of the systems needed for an all-up ECLSS.

Which is fine btw. given that unmanned testing of a full-up ECLSS didn't happen either on Mercury, Gemini and Space Shuttle.

Offline clongton

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The Falcon Heavy may not be able to get the Orion spacecraft to the Moon but it can put a 26 tonne object in LEO.

That is exactly what NASA should do. For all the brouhaha around the SLS, even if it does fly once or twice, it will not  - ever - be a major player in HSF going forward. It is so expensive to just own, even when not flying, and it's projected flight rate is so utterly anemic, that the only thing it would actually do is to hold back the progress we could otherwise be making.

Both Falcon Heavy and New Glenn will be capable of putting Orion into LEO. Orion is supposed to be launcher agnostic so NASA would do well to work with both companies and begin planning now for their launchers to be the Orion launch vehicles. NASA's HSF program going forward must include on-orbit refueling. It is such an utter no brainer that I can't even begin to fathom why NASA isn't already pursuing development and deployment of orbital refueling capability. With orbital refueling the Orion might actually stand a chance of fulfilling the dream of it being NASA's premere human spacecraft to ferry astronauts back and forth to the moon and other potential deeper spacecraft, such as the yet undefined MTV.

Uncouple Orion from the SLS and couple it instead to an orbital refueling station and NASA HSF will enter a new golden age. But so long as NASA's plans for Orion tie it to the SLS then that spacecraft is going absolutely nowhere in a hurry. But decouple it from the SLS and let the commercial launch providers put Orion into LEO for "refuel 'n go" missions and Orion could have a bright future for a long time to come. Otherwise it'll be just another failed program in NASA's long line of failed programs.

That's the key to Orion's survival and the survival of NASA's HSF program.
« Last Edit: 12/17/2018 12:01 pm by clongton »
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Offline woods170

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Both Falcon Heavy and New Glenn will be capable of putting Orion into LEO. Orion is supposed to be launcher agnostic...

Throwing a wet towel on this:

The only US manned spacecraft, currently under development, that is launcher agnostic, is CST-100 Starliner.
Orion was permanently wedded to SLS quite a few years ago.

Offline Lars-J

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Both Falcon Heavy and New Glenn will be capable of putting Orion into LEO. Orion is supposed to be launcher agnostic...

Throwing a wet towel on this:

The only US manned spacecraft, currently under development, that is launcher agnostic, is CST-100 Starliner.
Orion was permanently wedded to SLS quite a few years ago.

Only permanently wedded to SLS by political will. It did after all launch on a Delta IV Heavy once, so if there is a will there is a way.

But both SLS and Orion seem wedded to each other, but the relationship seems more like a suicide pact rather than a shotgun wedding. Both are highly dependent on each other.
« Last Edit: 12/17/2018 05:32 pm by Lars-J »

Offline clongton

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Both Falcon Heavy and New Glenn will be capable of putting Orion into LEO. Orion is supposed to be launcher agnostic...

Throwing a wet towel on this:

The only US manned spacecraft, currently under development, that is launcher agnostic, is CST-100 Starliner.
Orion was permanently wedded to SLS quite a few years ago.

Only permanently wedded to SLS by political will. It did after all launch on a Delta IV Heavy once, so if there is a will there's a way.

But both SLS and Orion seem wedded to each other, but the relationship seems more like a suicide pact rather than a shotgun wedding. Both are highly dependent on each other.

The suicide pact has to change. You're correct Lars. It's only wedded by political will. Orion could be made launcher agnostic if NASA wanted it to be. If they don't do it then one of the preflight activities for Orion will be to remove the ton of dust that has accumulated on the spacecraft between flights. It's even entirely possible that a NASA astronaut may fly in Orion and then many years later their adult son or daughter will fly in the same spacecraft for it's next flight. NASA could build a fleet of 5 reusable spacecraft and 2 or 3 of them will never actually fly.

Meanwhile commercial crews will have built several permanently occupied bases all over the lunar globe and SpaceX will have over 1,000 settlers on the surface of Mars. That's how utterly ridiculous NASA's SLS/Orion plans are.
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Offline woods170

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Both Falcon Heavy and New Glenn will be capable of putting Orion into LEO. Orion is supposed to be launcher agnostic...

Throwing a wet towel on this:

The only US manned spacecraft, currently under development, that is launcher agnostic, is CST-100 Starliner.
Orion was permanently wedded to SLS quite a few years ago.

Only permanently wedded to SLS by political will. It did after all launch on a Delta IV Heavy once, so if there is a will there's a way.

But both SLS and Orion seem wedded to each other, but the relationship seems more like a suicide pact rather than a shotgun wedding. Both are highly dependent on each other.

The suicide pact has to change. You're correct Lars. It's only wedded by political will. Orion could be made launcher agnostic if NASA wanted it to be. If they don't do it then one of the preflight activities for Orion will be to remove the ton of dust that has accumulated on the spacecraft between flights. It's even entirely possible that a NASA astronaut may fly in Orion and then many years later their adult son or daughter will fly in the same spacecraft for it's next flight. NASA could build a fleet of 5 reusable spacecraft and 2 or 3 of them will never actually fly.

Meanwhile commercial crews will have built several permanently occupied bases all over the lunar globe and SpaceX will have over 1,000 settlers on the surface of Mars. That's how utterly ridiculous NASA's SLS/Orion plans are.

I understand your concerns Chuck.

But...

This is not another "SLS stinks, Orion sucks and NASA is bad"-thread.

Let's get back on topic shall we?

Thank you.
« Last Edit: 12/18/2018 06:43 am by woods170 »

Offline Khadgars

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Why does every single SLS thread have to turn into this?  I used to really enjoy reading through the posts, I felt privileged to be part of such a knowledgeable, civil community.  But even something as benign as the EM-2 mission profile turns into this mess of who's opinion can be heard the loudest.  I will always be part of NSF, but its quite sad  :'(

Offline Rocket Science

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Why does every single SLS thread have to turn into this?  I used to really enjoy reading through the posts, I felt privileged to be part of such a knowledgeable, civil community.  But even something as benign as the EM-2 mission profile turns into this mess of who's opinion can be heard the loudest.  I will always be part of NSF, but its quite sad  :'(
Because we are measuring NASA against itself... Perhaps they set the bar "too-high" fifty years ago...
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Offline woods170

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Why does every single SLS thread have to turn into this?  I used to really enjoy reading through the posts, I felt privileged to be part of such a knowledgeable, civil community.  But even something as benign as the EM-2 mission profile turns into this mess of who's opinion can be heard the loudest.  I will always be part of NSF, but its quite sad  :'(
Because we are measuring NASA against itself... Perhaps they set the bar "too-high" fifty years ago...

In fact they did. Had the Space Race not come along, the first manned lunar landing would still be in the future IMO. Apollo was a brilliant achievement but also way ahead of its time. At least 5 to 6 decades too early.
« Last Edit: 12/19/2018 06:55 am by woods170 »

Offline clongton

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I understand your concerns Chuck.
But...
This is not another "SLS stinks, Orion sucks and NASA is bad"-thread.
Let's get back on topic shall we?

Thank you.

I didn't mean for it to come across that way. It really was a "Plan-D" post. There is a world of difference between bashing NASA and SLS, which I did not and will not do, and honestly assessing the facts on the ground without artificially coloring them, which is what I did do. Believe it or not, as a LV I actually like the SLS. But Congress/NASA/Boeing are wasting it away to the point that it'll never amount to anything. In the meantime Orion actually can amount to a LOT - provided it flys on a different LV. It needs to fly - a LOT. And sadly that's not going to happen on SLS. Essentially what I'm saying is that EM-2, even if wildly successful, is an exercise in futility because it's launch vehicle cannot fly often enough, affordably enough, to allow Orion to even come close to realizing it's potential. NASA needs a new "Plan-D", and that is to uncouple Orion from SLS, make it launch vehicle agnostic, and develop, deploy and make operational on-orbit propellant resources. That's what Plan-D really needs to do.

I see no way to save the HLV that I actually helped to bring into being, and that saddens me more than I can express. But Orion CAN be saved. Plan-D needs to focus on saving Orion. If NASA does that then Orion will become the cadillac of spacecraft going forward instead of becoming just a memory.

The trajectory envisioned for Orion in the 1st post of this thread is about the best that Orion will be able to do because it's LV doesn't have the TLI capability to allow it to orbit the moon and get back safely. Orion is a better spacecraft than that and deserves to be able to live up to its potential. NASA has got to get away from it's Apollo-style glory vision of a super rocket that sends everything to the moon with its lander with a single launch. The political atmosphere that NASA MUST function in just won't let that happen. NASA needs to look honestly at what actually IS possible in this political atmosphere and adjust to it accordingly. That's why I am advocating for a revision to NASA's plans for Orion. I want to see Orion go out to the moon 3 or 4 times a year, not once every couple of years. The current direction of Orion/SLS is a dead end. NASA needs a new direction - a new Plan-D.
« Last Edit: 12/18/2018 07:00 pm by clongton »
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Why does every single SLS thread have to turn into this?  I used to really enjoy reading through the posts, I felt privileged to be part of such a knowledgeable, civil community.  But even something as benign as the EM-2 mission profile turns into this mess of who's opinion can be heard the loudest.  I will always be part of NSF, but its quite sad  :'(
Because we are measuring NASA against itself... Perhaps they set the bar "too-high" fifty years ago...

In fact they did. Had the Space Race not come along the first manned lunar landing would still be in the future IMO. Apollo was a brilliant achievement but also way ahead of its time. At least 5 to 6 decades too early.
Apollo was its own worst enemy. This is because in the beginning space launch was a shoestring operation funded within military budgets. Then along came NASA and Apollo and cost was no object. It was this mentality/policy shift that doomed follow-on programs.

This mentality still exists in US government space. We even exported it to other governments by example because they want to keep up with our accomplishments. But now there is so much bureaucracy that the ability to get anything accomplished is delayed and costs way more than it should. This why when d discussing SLS the comments keep drifting over to what commercial space projects are accomplishing faster and for less.

Offline Rocket Science

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Landing on the Moon was an aberration. Check out my thread from eight years back and look where we still are now... :(
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=25469.0
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Offline whitelancer64

Because we are measuring NASA against itself... Perhaps they set the bar "too-high" fifty years ago...

In fact they did. Had the Space Race not come along the first manned lunar landing would still be in the future IMO. Apollo was a brilliant achievement but also way ahead of its time. At least 5 to 6 decades too early.

Very true. IMO, without the Cold War and the Space Race, we may very well not have put a human into orbit yet.
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Offline clongton

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Landing on the Moon was an aberration. Check out my thread from eight years back and look where we still are now... :(
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=25469.0

This is a Plan-D post. Most of what I say below is context, but it is a Plan-D post.

To answer the question you posed at the end of your opening post there,
Quote
Absent of this [international competition], what is going to urge the country on a commitment?
absent that competition only commercial opportunity is going to actually enable the kind of lunar development all of us, when we were much younger and wildly idealistic, envisioned. Absent that competition there is no reason any government on earth would dedicate that much capital and time, especially any elected government, which completely changes its vision every 2 years.

Lewis and Clark, while federally financed, were able to explore and catalog the Louisiana Purchase only because they could live off the land for months while doing it, being guided by persons native to the region. Today's explorers and opportunists have no such advantage. So it takes a tremendous vision and investment on the part of the federal government to create the means for entrepreneurs to go there and see what can be accomplished in that faraway place.

The relevance of that thread and this post to this topic is that today's government and its agencies need to execute plans that face the challenges of opening this new frontier head on and not waste time and money doing things that may be good for the American ego but contribute little to the only concretely justifiable reason there is to actually go there - commercial opportunity. Absent the competition for national supremacy only commerce offers that potential and NASA's current Plan-D does not contribute to that because what they are doing is not repeatable often enough and affordably enough. Plan-D needs to refocus on what resources (Orion) and capabilities (Propellant Depots and Commercial LVs) we actually have or soon could have. The plan needs to optimize those and not waste time and effort. The current Plan-D does not do that and that's what I have been trying to say. Plan-D needs to change because in the grand scheme of things it is irrelevant in its current form.
« Last Edit: 12/19/2018 12:42 pm by clongton »
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Offline freddo411

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{snip}
Simply put: testing an ECLSS on board an unmanned spacecraft is like testing the driving experience of a car without the car rolling so much as an inch: it is pointless.

Hence all the crap the ASAP was making about the original flight profile of EM-2. The first manned flight of Orion, with a brand-new, not-flight-tested ECLSS. And it was to go straight to the Moon. The compromise they have now come up with is not committing to TLI until more than 24 hours after launch. If the ECLSS throws a fit the crew will simply not perform the TLI burn and reenter as soon as possible.

That is why the test sequence I gave in reply #8 starts with people locked up in an Orion for 2 weeks. All the parts of the ECLSS have to work, if something fails then it is easy to get them out. The second part of the test ensures that flying the ECLSS does not cause any problems without risking any lives. Even empty temperature controls and fans still have to work. The third part tests Orion and ECLSS with people inside.

The second part (all-up ECLSS on an uncrewed orbiting vehicle) will absolutely not happen on Orion: they go straight from people-in-the-loop testing on the ground to all-up manned test in orbit.

There is no in-between step in this case, given that EM-1 carries only a partial ECS, without most of the systems needed for an all-up ECLSS.

Which is fine btw. given that unmanned testing of a full-up ECLSS didn't happen either on Mercury, Gemini and Space Shuttle.

I'm of the opinion it is not FINE.   Building out and integrating the ECLSS and then flying it in zero G would be a good test.   We just don't know what problems might turn up.   You are correct that it would be a good idea to have something consuming the the LSS ... dog? monkey? a small custom built test rig?

It's wasteful to fly a couple billion dollar test without, ahem, testing things.

Offline CJ

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Edit, OOPS! I somehow lost the quote tags, and thus inadvertently plagiarized - apologies to Woods170, and also to anyone who read this post in unfixed form.

   
There is only a partial ECLSS on EM-1, specifically a rudimentary ECS.
The "Life Support" portion is still in development. Besides, even if a full-blown ECLSS was on EM-1 it could not be properly tested.
You see, there is nobody on board to breathe.

Breathing does four things for an ECLSS:
- Use up oxygen (which must be replenished by the ECLSS)
- Produce CO2 (which must be scrubbed by the ECLSS)
- Produce water vapour (which must be largely removed by the ECLSS)
- Produce particle effluent (which must be largely filtered by the ECLSS)

Other than the little detail of breathing, humans also shed a lot of other stuff into the atmosphere, mainly hairs and dead skin tissue (skin flaking). Both must be filtered from the cabin environment. That, again, is done by the ECLSS.

Simply put: testing an ECLSS on board an unmanned spacecraft is like testing the driving experience of a car without the car rolling so much as an inch: it is pointless.

Hence all the crap the ASAP was making about the original flight profile of EM-2. The first manned flight of Orion, with a brand-new, not-flight-tested ECLSS. And it was to go straight to the Moon. The compromise they have now come up with is not committing to TLI until more than 24 hours after launch. If the ECLSS throws a fit the crew will simply not perform the TLI burn and reenter as soon as possible.

What if the ECLSS has a fit just after the TLI burn? Or near the moon? Unlike LEO, they can't abort back to earth fast enough to matter.

So, why not test it on EM-1? The claim is it won't be ready, but why not? If it's mainly hardware tested on ISS, as claimed, it should be possible to get it ready in two years.

You raise some good points regarding breathing's impact on ECLSS, so let's go down your list:

1 Oxygen depletion: fill a few cloth bags (perhaps a couple of layers of pillow cases) with iron filings, sized as needed. The filings will oxidize, thus using O2. If control from the ground is needed, wrap them in plastic and feed them via a valve-controlled air hose. Alternatively, use O2 scavenging paper packets from the food industry. Any controllable O2 scavenger would do.   
2 CO2: a CO2 tank on slow bleed. Could be controlled from the ground if needed.
3: water vapor: This one is harder... perhaps a tiny ultrasonic humidifier fed by a very small pump, hooked to a bag of distilled water, and run on a timer to mimic human output ranges.
4: particle effluent (detritus, dead skin cells, dust, hair, etc). That one is even harder to mimic. However, the ECLSS should have a filter, much akin to an air conditioning filter, that's easily accessible and changeable by the crew, so my guess is this is not likely to be a lethal failure source. But, to make sure... use hard water instead of distilled in the ultrasonic humidifier from #3, which will create some fine mineral dust.     

Obviously,  an actual spacecraft engineer could come up with far better versions of what I propose above, I was going for simplicity, plus what I knew off the top of my head.

Alternatively, keep the first crewed mission in LEO, so a speedy abort is possible.

The mission scenario outlined in "Plan D" bothers me greatly; why risk a crew by sending it around the moon (where a speedy abort is impossible) with unflown hardware? At least use EM-1 to test actual flight hardware, so it's a real test. They've got about two years, at least, to install the ECLSS before EM-1 launches, which ought to be possible if, as claimed, the ECLSS consists of components already tested on ISS. If not, that's even more reason to require an in-space test before entrusting it to take a crew to the moon and back.
« Last Edit: 12/20/2018 06:09 am by CJ »

Offline Lar

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A man sized bag of rats[1] or two might not get past PETA but seems like it would test the ECLSS fairly well.

1 - with provisions to feed and water them.
« Last Edit: 12/19/2018 04:48 am by Lar »
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Carbon dioxide and water vapour can be produced by burning methane. There are things that will give off dust if heated. This sounds like a modern version of the Davy Safety Lamp.

As for rats/mice the Rodent Research Facility can be used to transport them. I do not know if this can work unmanned.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1209.html



Offline woods170

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{snip}
Simply put: testing an ECLSS on board an unmanned spacecraft is like testing the driving experience of a car without the car rolling so much as an inch: it is pointless.

Hence all the crap the ASAP was making about the original flight profile of EM-2. The first manned flight of Orion, with a brand-new, not-flight-tested ECLSS. And it was to go straight to the Moon. The compromise they have now come up with is not committing to TLI until more than 24 hours after launch. If the ECLSS throws a fit the crew will simply not perform the TLI burn and reenter as soon as possible.

That is why the test sequence I gave in reply #8 starts with people locked up in an Orion for 2 weeks. All the parts of the ECLSS have to work, if something fails then it is easy to get them out. The second part of the test ensures that flying the ECLSS does not cause any problems without risking any lives. Even empty temperature controls and fans still have to work. The third part tests Orion and ECLSS with people inside.

The second part (all-up ECLSS on an uncrewed orbiting vehicle) will absolutely not happen on Orion: they go straight from people-in-the-loop testing on the ground to all-up manned test in orbit.

There is no in-between step in this case, given that EM-1 carries only a partial ECS, without most of the systems needed for an all-up ECLSS.

Which is fine btw. given that unmanned testing of a full-up ECLSS didn't happen either on Mercury, Gemini and Space Shuttle.

I'm of the opinion it is not FINE.   Building out and integrating the ECLSS and then flying it in zero G would be a good test.   We just don't know what problems might turn up.   You are correct that it would be a good idea to have something consuming the the LSS ... dog? monkey? a small custom built test rig?

It's wasteful to fly a couple billion dollar test without, ahem, testing things.

Quite frankly I don't understand what gets you ticked off on this one. It is very simple: NASA doesn't plan on testing its full-up ECLSS system for Orion on unmanned missions.

That's it.

What you think of it is completely irrelevant. So is what I think of it.

But here is some additional information: the requirements for Orion ECLSS state that it needs to operate for (at most) 3 weeks per missions. That puts it in the operating range of the space shuttle ECLSS, which was also untested in orbit, prior to its first manned mission.

And what to think of the Spacelab ECLSS? Many people don't realize this but Spacelab had its own independent ECLSS. The first all-up on-orbit test of that system was on the first manned Spacelab mission.

Same for the Skylab ECLSS.
Same for the Salyut ECLSS.
Same for the Mir ECLSS.
Same for the ISS ECLSS.

Simply put: there is no need for unmanned, on-orbit test of the full-up Orion ECLSS.

Even Apollo had only a partial test of its ECLSS on unmanned missions. The reason was the same: no-one to breathe was present on those flights.

Offline Nibb31

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The difference with Shuttle or Apollo ECLSS is that they were first tested for days in LEO where the mission could abort at any time if there was a malfunction. For Apollo, there had been several LEO flights to certify the system before Apollo 8.

If there is an ECLSS malfunction after the Earth departure burn, there is no abort capability.

An EM-1.5 long-duration manned flight to LEO to test not only  ECLSS, but also other human factors (equipment interaction, waste management, manned operations, user interface, EVA, comms, and so on) seems like a no-brainer to me before committing to a BEO shakedown cruise. It could even dock with the ISS for safety and to test RV and docking procedures.
« Last Edit: 12/19/2018 11:32 am by Nibb31 »

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