A BETTER way of retruning to the moon!

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frodo1008

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I hope the MODS will not mind of I place this both here in free space and over on M&L, I consider it easily that important!

OK fellow space cadets, here we go! The big thread that I originally promised.

The HOW (I will also bring out another thread on the WHY) of going back to the moon in a far less expensive, and far more reliable manner, over just the Constellation way of getting back to the moon. NASA’s (to me flawed) method of using two rocket launching systems, which MUST accomplish a very timely rendezvous in LEO, just to get a start on the journey, and MUST also come back in the Apollo style mode of a far faster entry into Earth’s atmosphere, in a far more dangerous entry that a pure space plane would have to do.

Let us make sure that we already know just where we are to begin with here.

We are now in a high LEO orbit. An orbit in an inclination above the major launching areas of the world. Somewhere between the inclination of Cape Kennedy Space Center and the European launch complex the “Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG)” in French Guiana. This orbit must be at least some 500 miles in altitude (or even higher) to ensure that a space station there never has to use expensive propellants to be reboosted in order not be dragged down by the Earth’s atmosphere (like the ISS does). It is also at this altitude to be above almost all human generated space debris

The materials for a Bigelow type of inflatable, multi module transfer space station would have been brought up on relatively inexpensive EELV types of launch vehicles. And this station consists of at least three Bigelow inflatable modules, which would cost less that 1% of the cost of the ISS (in the one to two billion dollar range). Even if it were more expensive than this it would still be at a fraction of the cost of the ISS, after all, that is Bigelow Aerospace’s main goal, to provide such stations at far less cost that some 10% of the cost of the ISS.

We the people bound for the moon would have come up on a true two stage to orbit type of space plane taxi, along with some nine of our fellow travelers, and our piloting crew. Said space plane having originally been launched either from a mother aircraft type of ship that took off from a conventional airport runway, or perhaps had a boost from a maglev type of ramped launching system. After being released from our mother ship, we then ignited our relatively small solid rocket booster(s), which got us op to some 15 to 20 mach, where we ignited our linear aerospike type of form fitting engines to get us the rest of the way up to this transfer space station. When we come back to Earth, we will use our lifting body type of undersurface (which has an advanced type of thermal protection system), along with the relatively small control surfaces of our space plane to make a safe landing back at our starting point. All of this (especially with some 5 or more flights per week) at a cost of less then $500,000 per each passenger (and as the number of passengers so increases, even that relatively low cost will go down a great deal).

Now, the space station we arrive at will be initially quite small, say a living habitat, for up to 5 rotating space station crew, a control and operations module, and a pass through from one air lock to the other transfer module. Now, eventually this would be a very good location for a far larger and more advanced “Space Hotel” type of space station. One with enough inflatable modules to actually have a spinning wheel type of artificial gravity (for the comfort of the paying passengers who stay at the hotel for some time), with a capacity for up to thousands of somewhat wealthy tourists (wealthy at least in the beginning, with the price continually coming down all the time). How would that be for a vacation destination?

OK, back to our simple beginning station. Attached to the other end of our pass through module is the actual moon going ship. Said ship does not have to be (in fact would probably be better off to not be) streamlined in any way, as it would never encounter any atmosphere in any of its travels. It would only travel between this High LEO, up to a Low Moon Orbiting Space Station. It would NOT be powered by conventional chemical fuels thrusters (maybe some small thrusters for maneuvering, that used very little propellants anyway), but would be instead powered by something such as the VASIMIR engine(s) developed by Franklin Ramón Chang-Díaz. The great advantage of such engines is that they use very little fuel, and therefore do not require large amounts of propellants to be brought up for their operation. The only draw back, (not a killer draw back by any means) is that the journey between Earth and moon stations is going to take quite a bit longer due to the less (but constant) thrust developed by such engines. But over all, such engines will turn out to be far more economical over even standard liquid engines for this travel. And will turn out to be cheaper by even further over the current Constellation concepts!

So, away we go in our Earth/moon travel buggy! We are headed for another small (initially at least) Bigelow type of inflatable space station (could even be an exact copy of the Earth station, why not?). This one in a Low moon orbit (no atmosphere to cause boosting problems). Here we again transfer, this time to a moon landing craft; such a landing craft not limited to a certain size by the ability of such a system as the Constellation to get it up to the moon. Such a craft could easily be large enough to take some 10 passengers and a piloting crew to and from the moon’s surface. It could also be available in a materials only freighter version, to take many tones of materials to and from the moon’s surface. There could even be made available at the moon space station such extra vehicles for emergency use to take crews off of the moon in case of emergencies there.

As all of this moon space station and lunar Landers would have been brought up using the relatively reliable and inexpensive exclusively VASIMIR powered Earth/moon ship, the relative costs of any amount of not only these vehicles, but also very elaborate moon bases, (say at the poles over which the station should then orbit) where both very extensive moon exploration, and even moon materials mining exploitation of the moons extensive resources, could easily and relatively inexpensively and reliably take place.

Unlike the Constellation project, this kind of true Earth/moon transportation could continually and much more reliably provide transportation for literally thousands of tons of materials from the Earth to the moon, and just as importantly thousands of workers, and eventually probably tens of thousands of moon bound space tourists also!

Using the pure private space bound launching efforts of such as spacex (Elon Musk), Virgin Galactic (Burt Rutan), and the relatively inexpensive inflatable space stations of Robert Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace, I see no practical show stoppers that such a system could not be built at least (and quite probably far less) as inexpensively than the current Constellation plans of NASA!

However, even more importantly to me at least this system would be far safer, more reliable, and sustainable that NASA’s current ideas.

The only draw back that I can see is that it might take somewhat longer to get back to the moon. But when we did get back it would be with a far greater chance of staying and utilizing the resources of the moon itself to both go on to Mars, and to eventually build a viable space faring civilization. Apollo gave us our flag planting ceremonies, and it was very good that it did so, but now it really is time to get down to actually and continually working (and with moon tourism, eventually playing, and even possibly living) on the moon!

Now, thanks for taking the time to read this relatively long post, and let the general discussions begin!
 
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R1

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I thought the Space Shuttle already used the most advanced thermal shielding. Did it not?

I would hate to see the U.S.undergo another 10 to 30 year delay to build an entirely new system from the ground.
Could Russia take us to orbit in the meantime? If they could, why not simply build our own Russian rockets also?
Just how are the private space plane projects doing? Could the private industries have such plane system ready
within a few years, with the help from Nasa?

Other questions: Would the U.S. be able to build a new Shuttle in a timely manner, such that we would not retire it
until the Space Plane is in operation? Is it possible to launch a Space Plane or Shuttle, piggybacked on the Jupiter
Rocket? This way the Jupiter project can move forward. The only thing is how do we bring people up to orbit and back to earth,
for up to three decades.





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frodo1008

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R1: If we have not made at least some progress over the years in thermal shielding (such as much larger blanket types of shielding instead of very high maintenance cost very small tiles) then something is definitely wrong with progress in a vital area for the future reduction of the costs of launching human beings into space. Personally, I refuse to believe that we have not made such progress, and the only reason that such newer methods have not been used on the present shuttles themselves is that it would probably be just as expensive to retrofit them, as it is to just continue with the present system. After all, eventually we are going to have to retire the shuttles, whether or not we keep them around at a very reduced flight rate for some time to come or not.

NASA has already stated that it is going to cost at least $100 billion dollars for the Constellation project, and that is only the beginning for going back to the moon their way! I can not believe that even given a fraction of that amount of money over the next 10 years or so the such as Burt Rutan would not be able to come up with a true two stage to a High LEO orbit space plane. Heck, if you must know (there are many history books on the history of the STS system that would show this) ALL of the original plans (with the exception of the very interesting Chrysler concept) were two stage horizontal landing and take off space planes. A whole lot of work and money was expended on these various predecessors to the shuttle, so this is not a whole new approach that has never been researched at all.

As for the Russians, for the reasons already stated in many posts, (not just mine) forget it!

As I have stated, at least for getting materials up, we do not have to make use of the Russians at all, we DO have systems in the Delta IV Heavy, and the Atlas V Heavy, that are already launching, or about to already launch, and I do not think that spacex and Elon Musk and company are going to be that far behind even with their version of the Falcon 9 Heavy, than the others either. And going out to the Direct 2 site their ideas look very interesting for building a far better launch system for at least materials also.

Besides which Burt Rutan and Virgin Galactic are going to have a sub orbital space plane for launching at least ten people into sub orbital space within a very few years. And I would be very willing to bet you that if Rutan can come up with such a system without any governmental help, that he could very well come up with a true space plane for getting into orbit without expending anywhere near the kind of funds that NASA wants to expend on the Constellation project. Heck, from what I have read of Rutan, he may not even want NASA's money, as it usually comes with NASA's control, and it then becomes almost impossible to think outside of the box as he does all the time! However, if he could be guaranteed some degree of autonomy, he might be interested, and we could have a far better launch system for people within some ten years at the worst, for a whole lot less expenditure of NASA's already very limited manned space budget!

If that means that it would take an extra decade to get back to the moon, then so be it! It would be infinity better to go back to the moon with a systems that was truly sustainable, taking some degree of extra time, than it would be to saddle a probably very reluctant tax paying people with a relatively huge and continuing expenditure! As great and wonderful as Apollo was, I do NOT want to see repeat of what happened afterwords, NO WAY! If it would then take more time than I have left (I am now 66 years old) to see mankind get back to the moon, then so be that also!
 
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R1

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And, in theory at least, the space-place could possibly launch attached to the Space Shuttle tank and rockets, could it not ?

The Direct 2.0 launch system, which makes use of the current solid booster rockets and liquid tank, could easily carry
even our own Shuttles into orbit, correct? I think we are retiring the Shuttle because of its cost. This is not
the case with the booster rockets and liquid tank. These will become the Jupiter rocket system.

So I am not suggesting that we defeat the purpose of retiring the shuttle as a flawed design. In other words, I am aware that
we intend to place payloads and humans on top of the rockets, not beside them. The reason why I would like to
see the new Space-plane attached to the current Shuttle rockets (the primitive Jupiter system) is
so that we can go ahead and use it already. We could keep producing the solid boosters and liquid tanks which Jupiter will need, and separately, the various other companies could work on getting the very same plane up to orbit in various other ways. Until they do, we could be launching the plane already, on the current Shuttle rockets.
 
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frodo1008

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R1: Thanks for your excellent input here. I originally fully supported NASA's first Constellation plans. This was because, like the Direct 2 plans these plans made full use of the original STS system hardware. This hardware having had all of its original developmental costs amortized out over the 30+ years of the STS system.

Heck, I even thought that NASA was going to make initial use of the 20+ fully completed and paid for SSME's that it still had in its inventory. These engines, even if used in a throw away use, would at the very least have already been completely paid for. And would have given plenty of time for the development of their replacement at a far more reasonable cost also.

They were also going to make use of the already well known (and therefore known cost also) four segment Large Solid Rocket Boosters (LSRB's). once again, at a most reasonable cost.

I would still think that what I have proposed here would have been a better way of going back to the moon. But at least the over all costs would have been far more reasonable for the Constellation system.

But even that was NOT to be!

Now, we also have the developmental costs of the new J2 engines (not too bad at less than ($1 billion), but it could have been spread out over more time by using the already manufactured SSME's in the meantime.

However, even Griffith was angered when ATK came up with a developmental cost of some $5 billion, just to increase the regular four segment motors up to 5 segment motors! Good Grief Charlie Brown, the ENTIRE EELV developmental program by the Air Force, including the development of two separate rocket launch systems in the Delta IV and the Atlas V, and even including the first large liquid engine development since the SSME, in the RS68 engines, was only about $3 billion totally!!

If you ask me ATK was doing one heck of a rip off job on NASA!

It was this kind of thing, along with coming here and seeing major problem after major problem, that eventually turned me so totally against the Constellation Project. I still support NASA in general, but am very unhappy with the "Devil in the details" of the Constellation project.

Hence, my own efforts to try to see if there was a better way to get back to the moon, and I do think that I have found it!

A way that could include ALL of the newer rocket launch systems and then some (such as Bigelow's inflatable space stations), and STILL cost less then NASA's current Constellation project. And what is even more important to me at least, provide a far more sustainable system for going back to the moon, stretching out even into the far future!
 
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jimglenn

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Re: A BETTER way of getting as high as the moon!

It will be impossible to overcome the inertia of nasa and the nuts who pay them. Us! We don't
hold them accountable. They can do what they want.

Separate cargo and people craft makes sense. Things can always go boom, get smart and make
the people boosters better, with escape systems, the cargo craft don't need that or life support.
Use the solids for cargo, liquid motors for people.

I would forget the spaceplane thing, too hard to boost wings efficiently thru the atmosphere, too
much drag. Just stick with rockets, maybe a wing on the first stage to "fly" like the Rutan system,
until launch. Use airbreathing engines until then. Avoid the latest waverider or whatever it is tech,
sounds like trouble. There is a reason the Soyuz has been in use 50 years, it works. Parachute
down bigger capsules, save yourself the trouble of wings falling off, etc. And forget the people living
in balloons idea, just too scary. One little puncture and you can't breathe! :(

 
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jim48

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Re: A BETTER way of getting as high as the moon!

jimglenn":1hu0yphb said:
It will be impossible to overcome the inertia of nasa and the nuts who pay them. Us! We don't
hold them accountable. They can do what they want.

Separate cargo and people craft makes sense. Things can always go boom, get smart and make
the people boosters better, with escape systems, the cargo craft don't need that or life support.
Use the solids for cargo, liquid motors for people.

I would forget the spaceplane thing, too hard to boost wings efficiently thru the atmosphere, too
much drag. Just stick with rockets, maybe a wing on the first stage to "fly" like the Rutan system,
until launch. Use airbreathing engines until then. Avoid the latest waverider or whatever it is tech,
sounds like trouble. There is a reason the Soyuz has been in use 50 years, it works. Parachute
down bigger capsules, save yourself the trouble of wings falling off, etc. And forget the people living
in balloons idea, just too scary. One little puncture and you can't breathe! :(

Is this a Chesley Bonestell painting? Cool stuff! Don't you think we should be gearing up for a manned Mars mission rather than a return to the moon?
 
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R1

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We may have to go to the moon first, jim.
There are just too many resources for long journeys to the asteroids and Mars and elsewhere.
I hope that one of the reasons for going to the moon first is so that we can obtain materials from which to make water,
hydrogen, and oxygen. We may be able to use moondust also, to line some hollow walls on the spaceships with.
This would protect the crew and vital things from radiation.
 
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10_stone_5

Guest
Don't you think we should be gearing up for a manned Mars mission rather than a return to the moon?
Thank you !
People often tie the moon with any or all Mars missions, and I simply don't agree. They are mutually exclusive considerations.
 
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jimglenn

Guest
Jimbo, realize what you said. Mars is really really far away. Inhospitable. Could cost a trillion dolla to git there.

For what? See if there are martians? If you really want to do it, straighten out the economy, which will mean
fixing the world with all those muslims and people who hate us, welfare slobs, drug addicts (not me..), and
Scientology types like Cruise.

If you ever worked on this high tech junk, you will find there are many ways to get in trouble. Any little magnetic
stirrer or o-ring can wreck your day. You have to send at least 3 ships to mars, each one has to be able to take
on all the crews. Triple redundancy. Once they leave they are on their own. And how do you pick the people?
Guys and girls? Compatibility issues? It sounds scary to me. Look at that one astro with the diaper and teargas.

:lol:

I linked the source of the pic, it was von Braun and Walt Disney, lots more there, check it out. They were
rocket gods!
 
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jimglenn

Guest
I don't know who she is. It would be funny to have RICHARD HOAGLAND found up there.

With a glass pyramid he said is there. Little UFO's and green men. Rayguns and monoliths.
 
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yevaud

Guest
jimglenn":tppbr79w said:
I don't know who she is.
Dude...*Shock*...Ralph Kramden's wife from The Honeymooners?. You know, "one of these days, Alice, Pow, Bang, Zoom, to the Moon!" :)
 
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jim48

Guest
Doesn't know who Alice Kramden is??? That show was in re-runs when I was a kid growing up in the '60s. WGN out of Chicago runs The Honeymooners on Sunday nights at 9:00 EST. That show still cracks me up. :lol: Yes, I'd love for them to find Hoagland on Mars. Now tell me again how difficult a manned Mars mission would be. Moon missions were dangerous too. Remember Apollo 13? As Captain Kirk once said "Risk... risk is our business! That's what this starship is all about!"
 
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R1

Guest
We almost do not even have enough money to put humans in orbit.

I'll take that back. We actually do, it's just that Washington has not wanted to pay enough.
 
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R1

Guest
Money is the best propellant. :lol:

Just kidding. Anyway, I have found an SDC article about European's good efforts on a space plane.
The link is here:

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/090311-tw-space-plane.html


And I have a question about the space planes:
Is is not more cost effective, and reasonably possible, to fly them attached to a high flying, larger plane, and subsequently release them at high altitudes for their flight to orbit?

Nasa may be having some technical difficulties with parts of the Ares design. So it's nice to know that
other countries are putting forth their own effort to reach orbit efficiently and very soon.
 
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jimglenn

Guest
Is that the Jackie Gleason Honeymooners? If so, that is pretty old. Are all you people 60 years old?

I can barely remember Dobie Gillus.
 
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jimglenn

Guest
NO! The LOX tank is very weak, additional loads will make it rupture, and blow everything up
when it takes off, destroying the pad and Florida too. :lol:
 
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R1

Guest
All right. Then how about this.
Once in orbit, could we attach the shuttle to a tank and go to the moon, orbit for a while, and then return?
 
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R1

Guest
http://www.floridatoday.com/content/blogs/space/2009/05/falcon-9-moves-to-fall-launch.shtml

A summer demonstration launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 has been moved to the fall.
I hope it is only paperwork and nothing serious. However, the article does mention technical work on the rocket.


If we have enough private capability to transport people up to Leo, wouldn't it make sense for Nasa
to focus on simply taking the Leo people to the moon and beyond?
I am glad to see many private companies and countries developing programs to put people in orbit very, very soon.
I hope Nasa can move on and re-allocate its resources to the next step already.
 
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scottb50

Guest
jimglenn":1ntdrfi6 said:
NO! The LOX tank is very weak, additional loads will make it rupture, and blow everything up
when it takes off, destroying the pad and Florida too. :lol:
I doubt it would destroy all of Florida, maybe the pad though. I doubt anyone would try something like that to begin with.

The basic Shuttle configuration is not the problem, it's the shear mass and complexity of the Shuttle vehicle opposed to the normal payload for a rocket. Look at Soyus, it carries roughly half the number of people as Shuttle and weighs less then the wings of the orbiter.

If there was no foam needed there would be no avenue for damage to the orbiter and if the orbiter was smaller it would be able to have an escape system if something failed. That's why the best alternative is a TSTO vehicle with a fly-back, fully re-usable First Stage and infinitely variable upper stages depending on the mission.

Basically you need to get an upper stage to the same point the Shuttle is at once the SRB's separate, from there an upper stage needs to get the payload to orbit and maneuver it to an LEO location or some other location.

Air-drops, balloons, scramjets and all that nonsense just won't work. SSTO would be great, but until we have Star Trek technology we can't do it, TSTO is easily doable and TSTA, Two Stage To Anywhere is also doable, the Centaur already does it.
 
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