Aviation Week: No lunar base?

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JonClarke

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<i>I might agree with that, but the MERs have shown that there is a lot of interesting and unexpected geology that could be found on the surface which was not visible from orbit.</i><br /><br />I agree, but since people are going there anyway, let's send them somewhere else. Imagine a rover with Lunakhod mobility (100 m per day) but with MER longevity, travelling along the eastern margin of Mare Imbrium! It might have cover 150-200 km.<br /><br /><i>Also, a lot would depend on what type of robotic program NASA could put together. If they build only a small number of expensive robots, then I would strongly go with sending them where we don't plan to send humans. However, if many relatively standard, relatively inexpensive rovers or landers could be built and sent to many sites, then I would prefer some go to planned manned locations.</i><br /><br />It mifght be good if they were dual use machines, ones that could be used by the crews when on the surface and then carry out a range of asks either autonomously or teleoperation when the crews are not present.<br /><br />Jon<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Whether we become a multi-planet species with unlimited horizons, or are forever confined to Earth will be decided in the twenty-first century amid the vast plains, rugged canyons and lofty mountains of Mars</em>  Arthur Clarke</p> </div>
 
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gunsandrockets

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Possibly related to the AW&ST story...<br /><br /><br />http://www.thespacereview.com/article/759/1 <br /><br /><br />Excerpts...<br /><br />----------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br />A bigger political challenge, though, lies two years down the road, when a new president is sworn into office. Depending on the status of the VSE (including how closely it is hewing to current budgets and schedules) and the new president’s interest in the program and NASA in general, he or she could take the program in a very different direction, or kill it in any recognizable form. Anticipating this change in administrations, one group of experts is studying an alternative to NASA’s current plan that would do away with lunar exploration entirely.<br />-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br />The notional mission design that Farquhar presented is based on what he calls the “Deep Space Shuttleâ€, which is similar to Orion but features a reusable service module that would aerobrake into Earth orbit at the end of the mission. The vehicle would also have “drop tanks†carrying the propellant needed to send the spacecraft to SEL2 and back; as the name suggests, the tanks would be jettisoned after use. A 35-day round-trip mission to SEL2, including five days at the libration point to carry out telescope servicing, could be carried out with a total delta-v only marginally higher than a round-trip mission into lunar orbit.<br /><br />While missions to SEL2 can carry out servicing of observatories based there, the libration point can play an even bigger long-term role, Farquhar believes. “The L2 libration point is the logical place to stage missions either to near Earth asteroids or to Mars,†he said. An “Interplanetary Transfer Vehicle†would slowly spiral out from SEL2, phasing its orbit to head to a NEO or to Mars. A Dee
 
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halman

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gunsandrockets,<br /><br />Yet another expert coming out with an alternate plan to the VSE! Does it not occur to anyone that the more fractured the space community is, the less likely it is to get anything it wants? Everyone has their own agenda, it seems, which is far more important, they believe, than straightforward plans to go to the Moon to stay. Everyone is convinced that a lunar base is going to soak up every available dollar in the space agency budget, completely ignoring that establishing a base might just possibly arouse enough interest to cause off planet budgets to be increased.<br /><br />If we set the precedent that our exploration is going to consist of only planting the flag and collecting a few rocks, support for space development is never going to materialize. We have no more "been there and done that" with the Moon than Columbus did with the Americas. It was those who followed him who found the wealth that transformed Europe. If we refuse to follow up on what we have accomplished, instead dashing hither and yon on this pet project and that one, why should we expect to get funding?<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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no_way

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mr. Griffin, personally it would seem, took time to respond<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>“I have noted on many occasions that, at present NASA funding levels, our budget is sufficient to support a variety of excellent space programs, but that it cannot support all of them. Balanced choices must be made. But they cannot be continually remade if there is to be progress,†Griffin explained.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />wise words.<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>But applying resources in the right direction, irrespective of pace, is always productive, and we are doing that. Ares and Orion as they are presently taking form are the building blocks for any human future beyond low Earth orbit (LEO).<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />huh .. not quite.<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>President Bush acted on those recommendations in his proposal to Congress. No such far-reaching proposal should be adopted without debate. That debate was had, in 2003, ‘04, and ‘05, and it was fulsome.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Thats a kick in the nuts. It seems that i managed to either sleep through 2003, 2004 and 2005 or someone was actively filtering the news channels.<br /><br />
 
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frodo1008

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Just attaching my own post to yours as the last one in the thread.<br /><br />Manned flight to the asteroids???? Perhaps if we were talking about NEO types of asteroids. But people, we know that a manned flight to Mars is going to be a VERY challenging mission at best, and a disaster at worst.<br /><br />Now, the last time I looked the Asteroid belt was about half way between the orbit of Mars and the orbit of Jupiter.<br /><br />The mean distance from the sun to Mars is about 1.5 AU (1.0 AU being the distance from the sun to the Earth).<br /><br />The mean distance of the Asteroid Belt from the sun is 2.7 AU. This means that it is about 110 million miles further to the Asteroid Belt than it is to Mars!<br /><br />Heck, Jupiter is also a very interesting object, with some 50 moons that are also at least as interesting than the Main Belt Asteroids! And it is only some 5.2 AU! <br /><br />Do these people realize what it is they are actually proposing? Good Grief, NASA will be VERY fortunate to get the continued funding just to get back to the moon! And these people are proposing we go on twice as far as Mars is at its closest approach to the Earth!! <br /><br />Am I the only one here that sees this as being somewhat far fetched?<br />
 
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j05h

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Frodo - the asteroid mission being bandied about is to a NEO - nominally it would be a 35 day mission using an extended service module, Orion and perhaps a mission module. No one is talking about humans-to-the-Main-Belt yet.<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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frodo1008

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OK, that is somewhat better. However, I have thought that even NEO's do not stick around the Earth itself long enough to do this?<br /><br /> The only NEO that I know of that does this is called the moon!<br /><br />I am perfectly willing to find out that my notions on this are wrong however. If so, then it would certainly make an interesting addition to the current program of going back to the moon!!!
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">the asteroid mission being bandied about is to a NEO - nominally it would be a 35 day mission using an extended service module, Orion and perhaps a mission module.</font>/i><br /><br />I think NEO missions would be incredibly cool, and Griffin has been supportive of them even before joining NASA and still is (if Congress shows up with the money). I also seem to recall that about a year ago NASA did a study on doing these types of missions (does anyone have a link to their report? Was it ever released?)<br /><br />I am, however, skeptical of this group of scientists' motives. Generally the Planetary Society has been against the money spent on manned space exploration, and this could just be a ploy to divert money from VSE to unmanned missions. Also, I recall some pretty sweeping statements in the AW&ST article that I am not sure how well they were backed up. For example, one person mentioned that young people weren't motivated by missions to the moon but they were motivated by missions to asteroids. I'm not so sure.</i>
 
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frodo1008

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Yeah, I agree it would indeed be "cool" (as others have stated), but practical?<br /><br />I have my doubts!
 
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wick07

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very cool <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#3366ff"><strong>_______________________________<em> </em></strong></font></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"</em>If you are surrounded by those who constatly agree with you, then you're in an intellectual vacuum.  If you feel like trying to make a difference, you have to BE different.  How can you do that without interacting with those who are different from yourself?"</font></p><p><font color="#0000ff">-  a_lost_packet_</font></p> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i> > Since we have extensive experience in Lunar surface operations, and will have 10 cm scale images from LRO robotic precursors to planned landing sites are redundant.<br />It would be better to send robots to places we don't plan to go. </i><br /><br />Generally I would agree with you, Jon. In the case of the proposed Shackleton base, however, a case can be made for ground-truth. We have some experience in daylight, nearside lunar operations, not in permanently shadowed craters. Knowing what is in there and whether it is extractable is crucial, and I don't think LRO will completely answer those questions.<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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bdewoody

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IMO if we don't/can't build a base on the moon we have no business sending people to Mars or anywhere else for that matter.<br /><br />All Apollo proved is that we got extremely lucky. A permanent moon base will be a great challenge but it will provide a firm foundation for manned trips to Mars and other points of interest. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em><font size="2">Bob DeWoody</font></em> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> A permanent moon base will be a great challenge but it will provide a firm foundation for manned trips to Mars and other points of interest.</i><br /><br />How, exactly? This is used as an argument against everything else, not just Mars. How is NASA building a research base going to enable expeditions to other places? They aren't talking industrial extraction or building ship hulls or other enabling activity. The plan now is only to go and explore the Moon in short sorties and maybe build a base, because ESAS is budgeted so exactly that is all they can afford. Note both Bigelow and ILC Dover are deploying inflatables for practical testing - a most of what we need for any rocky planet can be developed here on Earth. <br /><br />How does the Moon enable faster Mars exploration?<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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kelvinzero

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I dont think anyone says the moon will enable faster Mars exploring. The argument is that the moon is a more achievable goal that has value in its own right, and in the process we will gain much more confidence in relevant technology.<br /><br />You have probably already heard my own take: We should be working much harder to prove life support and ISRU based industry right here on earth before even chosing a destination. instead this seems to get a pathetically small amount of attention compared to big rockets.<br /><br />Are they really cutting the moon plan down to sorties? That would be very disappointing to me. I know there is still a lot of worth while exploration to do on the moon but what really thrilled me was the idea that we might finally be constructing something significant in space that wouldnt fall down again the moment interest waned. <img src="/images/icons/frown.gif" />
 
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bdewoody

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What you said and more. I have always been thrilled at the idea of humans exploring and settleing on Mars. But I'm afraid the way we will end up going there will be a repeat of the Apollo missions (not that they didn't do some important science) just to be the first to get there but end up with no significant gain.<br /><br />If, on the other hand, we build a real "permanent " presence on the moon with manufacturing capabilities we can go anywhere in the solar system without having to make up to 10 heavy lift launches from earth. The moon has all the resources necessary to build an interplanetary space vehicle and does not have the gravity penalty that earth does.<br /><br />Also after several years of permanent bases on the moon we will have the necessary skills to survive on Mars or the moons of Jupiter or Saturn.<br /><br />The moon should be our permanent space station. It's close, it has raw materials and it won't fall out of orbit. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em><font size="2">Bob DeWoody</font></em> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> I dont think anyone says the moon will enable faster Mars exploring. The argument is that the moon is a more achievable goal that has value in its own right, and in the process we will gain much more confidence in relevant technology. </i><br /><br />I agree with those points, especially that the Moon is a great target for exploration in it's own right. However, many, many people are saying that we will build new rockets on the Moon, or set up ISRU there, and launch from there to Mars. It ain't gonna happen. Spacecraft require significant industry to build - the Moon has exactly zero industrial base now. In effect, they are saying that the Moon is essential to getting to Mars or that it will enable Mars sooner. What I'm saying is that if the goal is getting to Mars, then Luna is a huge distraction. <br /><br /><i>> ...working much harder to prove life support and ISRU based industry right here on earth before even chosing a destination. instead this seems to get a pathetically small amount of attention compared to big rockets. </i><br /><br />Absolutely. Look at the advances that the Mars Society, NASA and others have created in the Haughton Crater Project, other Mars-analogs and McMurdo Base. The "Moon as Mars testbed" argument was debunked 15 years ago by Zubrin. Almost all the engineering will be done on Earth, and what can't be done here will be tested in LEO, not on the Moon. Big rockets are a distraction away from Getting There.<br /><br /><i>> Are they really cutting the moon plan down to sorties?</i><br /><br />Yes, they are. NASA has budgeted Ares so tightly that they can only afford Flags-n-Footprints. Instead of going with orbital assembly, depots/caches and building the Lunar hardware now, they have chosen the path that almost guarantees failure in a tightening budget environment. They could be building "Altair" right now. <br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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samkent

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If we can't afford to keep maintaining the ISS beyond 2016, what makes you think we can afford a Moon base? We are not going to manufacture anything on the Moon in the next 50 years at minimum. <br />There is nothing on the Moon that we need. Therefore we will not stay for more than a few days/weeks.
 
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j05h

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<i>> What you said and more. I have always been thrilled at the idea of humans exploring and settleing on Mars. But I'm afraid the way we will end up going there will be a repeat of the Apollo missions (not that they didn't do some important science) just to be the first to get there but end up with no significant gain. </i><br /><br />This is exactly what ESAS has been planned to do, too. Even to the rhetoric of "Apollo on Steroids". The development then operating costs of Ares will take up most of the budget, heavily limiting lunar surface activities. NASA is talking about moving to sorties instead of a base partly because it is the only thing they will be able to afford while owning Ares.<br /><br /><i>> If, on the other hand, we build a real "permanent " presence on the moon with manufacturing capabilities we can go anywhere in the solar system without having to make up to 10 heavy lift launches from earth. The moon has all the resources necessary to build an interplanetary space vehicle and does not have the gravity penalty that earth does. </i><br /><br />NASA is not talking about building a base for manufacturing - they have let open the possibility of corporate or international ISRU at their base. Even with a base @ Shackleton with easy access to water, there is still a need for a certain industrial base before rockets can be built. You are talking about building Long Beach, CA or Decatur, AL before the first Rocket From Luna is launched. Propellant is one thing but building rockets is entirely larger of an enterprise. <br /><br />IMHO, third stages such as Centaur and Delta upper stage should be reused extensively as tugs. Instead of being thrown away, they would function as prop stores, tugs and EDS equiv. for crew and cargo outbound. <br /><br />Have to disagree about the lunar gravity well. 1/6th G and no atmosphere is challenging in it's own right, especially for a LEO- or L1-to-anywhere architecture. Freefall at the top of planetary gravity wells (L point <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">How, exactly? This is used as an argument against everything else, not just Mars. How is NASA building a research base going to enable expeditions to other places?</font>/i><br /><br />If, and I admit it is a big if, but if the Moon offers something substantially more than it apparently does right now, the Moon provides us the opportunity to increase launch frequency, which will drive down costs and drive up reliability of all equipment (rockets, life support equipment, habitats, etc.). These benefits can be carried over to a Mars mission.<br /><br />What is needed for this to happen is a reason to continue returning to the Moon: rich scientific discoveries, increased enthusiasm by the public which can boost NASA's funding, resources (PGMs?) that justify industrial development, super rich tourists, a global movement of unification or competition, ...<br /><br />Time will tell.</i>
 
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j05h

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<i>> <br />If, and I admit it is a big if, but if the Moon offers something substantially more than it apparently does right now, the Moon provides us the opportunity to increase launch frequency, which will drive down costs and drive up reliability of all equipment (rockets, life support equipment, habitats, etc.). These benefits can be carried over to a Mars mission. </i><br /><br />A LEO or L1 complex can offer many of those same advantages (minus resources, plus constant Sun) while keeping the majority of the infrastructure at the top of the Well. This is especially true of flight freq and operational experience.<br /><br />The best description I have for the Moon is that it will be a "platform" for deploying things on. I see it being many decades, perhaps next century, before the industrial base is there for exporting materials or goods. Both PGMs and water are easier to access in some from Earth-crossing asteroids.<br /><br />Yes, time will tell.<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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gunsandrockets

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< ...many people are saying that we will build new rockets on the Moon, or set up ISRU there, and launch from there to Mars.><br /><br />Many people? Who?
 
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gunsandrockets

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ISS, the great white whale of the sky, for all it's apparent lack of utility is beginning to provide a small market for commercial space services. Likewise a lunar base could provide similar opportunities. In fact NASA's current planning for the lunar base explicitly asks for other non-NASA players to contribute hardware to lunar operations.
 
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gunsandrockets

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<There is nothing on the Moon that we need. Therefore we will not stay for more than a few days/weeks.><br /><br />NASA is already planning for lunar base stays with a crew rotation of sixth months similar to crew rotations at the ISS. Extended exposure to low-G conditions is vital to understanding the requirements for human spaceflight to destinations such as Mars. Plus the moon is of genuine scientific-interest as well. <br /><br />Lunar operations are a two-fer, we explore space and expand the envelope of human spaceflight capabilities at the same time.
 
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