Bring back mass from space

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willpittenger

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Does anyone see a future craft able to even come close to how much the shuttle can bring back from space? For that matter, how much is Constellation projected to be able to return from the Moon. Please provide cargo amounts only. Don't include craft, crew, or supplies.
 
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newsartist

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willpittenger":1r1vdy7n said:
Does anyone see a future craft able to even come close to how much the shuttle can bring back from space?
Short answer, no.

Nothing planned for real, or PowerPoint dreamed, can come close.

Remember that in an RTLS abort, the Orbiter would come back with the full payload, only less some propellant.

Orion, and the new Russian replacement for Soyuz, would vary by mission requirements, and final design. They still fall far short of the present system.
 
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CalliArcale

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I think, looking out a long ways, that someday the demand for such a spacecraft will be there. But it's not going to be soon, and frankly, the main reason the Shuttle has so much download capability is thanks to the NRO getting involved. They liked the idea of a launch vehicle where you can't tell how much went up or came down, because it looks the same from the outside in any case. But that cool capability didn't prove to be all that useful in practice. Useful enough to justify using it, but not useful enough to justify the whole expensive program.

So, no heavy download capability in the near future, but I think someday it will be wanted again.
 
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willpittenger

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So how much do you think we will be able to bring back from the Moon?
 
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mental_avenger

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Perhaps a better question would be: What massive substance or product from the Moon would warrant the expense of being brought back to Earth?
 
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CalliArcale

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willpittenger":2n2hbprc said:
So how much do you think we will be able to bring back from the Moon?
Are you talking about Constellation specifically, or generically into the future? I imagine that someday, in the distant future, we'll be able to mine the Moon or other celestial bodies and bring tons of material back (though I expect we'd want to do as much refining in situ as possible, to reduce the amount of useless slag we bring home to litter the Earth). But in the near future, I expect to see perhaps a modest improvement over Apollo. Less than half a ton of lunar material. (The bulk of the returned mass will of course be the spacecraft itself, the crew, and some of their equipment.)
 
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