Improvements needed in logistics for Constellation

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I think the Apollo missions taught us a few lessons in equipment that might get ignored. We aren't talking about landers, suits, or rovers here. Rather, it's the little things: Cameras, cables, equipment, etc.

First, the camera. During Apollo 12, Al Bean accidentally pointed the camera at a point of the LEM that was too bright. In general, until the rover had a camera that could be remotely controlled, TV cameras added a lot of work for astronauts. They had to move it a lot and (as noted later) watch out for the cable. It was also up to them to focus it.

Ok. Today's digital cameras take care of most of the formerly tedious work like manually focusing and the F-Stop. But I think that Mission Control should have control over at least one camera. Plus, let's cut the cable and make the cameras upload everything wirelessly to the lander or rover (which ever is nearer that has a direct uplink). Now all the astronauts have to do is deploy the camera, work for a while, and then retrieve it. Just don't back into it. I also think we should ensure that all cameras, regardless of type or who controls it, should be able to be safely pointed directly at the Sun without damage. I say that as the crew might not be able to tell where it is pointed or ensure that it ends being hit with a bright reflection—of which there will be plenty.

Next, the weak Lunar gravity and stiff suit gloves can make driving in core tubes tough. For that reason, it makes sense for similar equipment to be attached to the rover (so the rovers weight would work in our favor). Astronauts would control it via a wireless controller slung from their shoulders (where Apollo crews had cameras). This controller would work like what we see on some job sites here on Earth. Move a joystick and the machine works away.

The final part I want to bring up is the link home. Apollo astronauts had to point it themselves. I think there should be a beacon (or beacons if we have to operate when Houston is in the wrong position—or Earth is). Most of the time, this would be a orbiting probe or satellite. Now a system in each transmitter would look for that beacon and point the dish in the correct direction automatically. I don't know that it would allow for continuous operation as a rover moves around, but that would be ideal.

Now you should provide other tidbits that we don't want to forget but could easily.


Isn’t some of your concern a bit premature?

Instead of designing that micro sized, gas saving spare tire, shouldn’t we build the car first?

But I do recognize some of the short comings of the Apollo days.

Cameras are a dime a dozen these days, so I don’t think they will be an issue.

Drilling for core samples: The down side of attaching the drill to the rover would be what if it TOTALLY ceases up? I wouldn’t want the astronauts to be 10 miles from the lander with a drill that won’t come out of the ground or detach from the rover. What should happen and what actually happens could be fatal on the Moon. I have a simple Earthly example, my car. I have a dickens of a time getting the rear wheels off. There’s no rust or abuse, but I still have to use a 2x4 and 2lb hammer from the back side and beat them loose.

Communications: Our options have increased dramatically since the 60’s. Firstly the available power will likely be much higher. This will allow a simple wide beam pattern antenna. This will allow direct communications with Earth. Or they may use repeaters on the rover and lander or even a nearby ridge with solar power.
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