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SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.

Posted by: RGClark - Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:47 pm
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SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon. 
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Space Walker
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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Wed May 02, 2012 2:34 pm
Another team has now announced plans to do mining from
the Moon:

Renowned scientists join tech visionaries at Moon Express to mine the
Moon for planetary resources.
“MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., April 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Moon Express, a
Google Lunar X PRIZE contender, announced today that some of the
world's leading planetary scientists have joined its Science Advisory
Board (SAB) to assist the company in its plans to explore and
ultimately mine the Moon for precious planetary resources.”
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases ... 32035.html


Some people have advised that I should open up a blog for such technical discussions - sometimes meant as a constructive criticism, sometimes not. In any case I have decided to do so. I'll leave such detailed discussions to the blog.
I happen to believe off-world mining will be the "killer app" for routine space flight. For it, we will need low cost super heavy lift, and low cost manned flight. On the blog so far are posts discussing creating a super heavy lift vehicle at the few hundred million per launch range, compared to NASA's SLS at ca. $10 billion per launch(!), and of manned lunar missions also at the few hundred million per launch range, compared NASA's Constellation program at $100 billion total.

Low cost HLV.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2012/0 ... t-hlv.html

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2012/0 ... -cost.html

Comments on the blog posts and on improving the blog are invited.


Bob Clark

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Single-stage-to-orbit was already shown possible 50 years ago with the Titan II first stage.
Contrary to popular belief, SSTO's in fact are actually easy. Just use the most efficient engines
and stages at the same time, and the result will automatically be SSTO.
Blog: http://exoscientist.blogspot.com


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Spaceflight Enthusiast
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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:44 pm
Moon Express is founded by Naveen Jain, if you guys don't know. That is the guy who created InfoSpace and Intelius. Both companies managed to acquire bad reputation. So, although I believe in the mission of Moon Express, I don't buy the stuff told by Naveen Jain.


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Space Walker
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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:53 pm
Previously, I argued in favor of low cost manned lunar missions using a single launch of the 53 mT payload capacity Falcon Heavy launcher:

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2012/0 ... -cost.html

In a follow up post I'll show it can be done even cheaper than discussed there using smaller, currently available upper stages. This might allow manned lunar flights at three orders of magnitude cheaper cost than the estimated $100 billion total cost of the Constellation program, at least for single missions.
Note also the Falcon Heavy would also allow Bigelow-style space hotels to be transported to the lunar surface thus allowing long term stays on the Moon, also at much reduced costs than earlier estimates. I'll write about this as well.
However, for supporters of the SLS, in another follow up post I'll show a single launch of the interim 70 mT version could carry the Orion capsule to a lunar landing and back using Centaur-style Earth departure and landing stages. This argument depends on the ca. 20 to 1 mass ratio ULA suggests can be produced by switching to lightweight aluminum-lithium alloys.
This is important because it means rather than the interim 70 mT just making test flights, it can actually be used for manned flights to the Moon.
Note that Lori Garver at the recent AIAA meeting said the SLS will indeed be used to make manned flights to the Moon:

NASA's Garver lists moon as goal for astronauts against Obama space policy.
LORI GARVER SEPTEMBER 11, 2012 BY: MARK WHITTINGTON
Quote:
“The truth is, we have an ambitious series of deep space destinations we plan to explore, and are hard at work developing the hardware - and the technologies - to get us there.
“In fact, we just recently delivered a comprehensive report to Congress outlining our destinations which makes clear that SLS will go way beyond low Earth orbit to explore the expansive space around the Earth-moon system, near-Earth asteroids, the moon, and ultimately, Mars. Let me say that again: We're going back to the moon, attempting a first-ever mission to send humans to an asteroid and actively developing a plan to take Americans to Mars.“

http://www.examiner.com/article/nasa-s- ... ace-policy

NASA is considering lunar flyby missions with the interim 70 mT version of the SLS:

NASA Weighs Early Deep-Space Tests With Orion.
By Frank Morring, Jr.
September 13, 2012
Quote:
Planners in NASA’s human exploration and operations (HEO)
missions directorate are studying whether it would be possible and
worthwhile to expand the first three planned tests of the Orion
multipurpose crew vehicle, including the first flight with a crew, to
evaluate the capsule’s performance beyond low Earth orbit.
Architecture studies of potential deep-space missions using Orion also
are being used to consider ways to use the big capsule to collect data
on how it would perform beyond low Earth orbit, in lunar flyaround
like the Apollo 8 mission, and perhaps early flights to the Earth-Moon
lagrangian points under discussion as destinations where human
explorers could prepare for missions to asteroids and eventually Mars
and its moons, according to HEO Associate Administrator William
Gerstenmaier.

http://m.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx? ... 15.xml&p=1

Then rather then just doing a flyby mission with the 70 mT SLS version or waiting until 2030 when the full 130 mT version will launch, a full manned lander mission can be launched sometime after 2017 when the 70 mT version becomes available:

Space Launch System.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Laun ... gram_costs

Interestingly then, since the Falcon Heavy can also do such single launch Moon missions, the next Moon race may be between the commercial space providers and NASA.


Bob Clark

_________________
Single-stage-to-orbit was already shown possible 50 years ago with the Titan II first stage.
Contrary to popular belief, SSTO's in fact are actually easy. Just use the most efficient engines
and stages at the same time, and the result will automatically be SSTO.
Blog: http://exoscientist.blogspot.com


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Space Station Commander
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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:30 pm
I see feature creep. You want to build a big rocket, that's difficult so you make a smaller version first to test and get the bugs out. So far so good. But your schedule is getting longer and longer, and it's starting to look like your final product may no longer be relevant by the time it'll be done. So, you look at your test version, which is scheduled to be done more quickly, and start thinking that if you could just add a few things to it, it could do something useful and save your bacon. So you add some functionality to the test version, which delays it, and before you know it you end up getting less more slowly.

It says they're evaluating, and for sure they'll weigh the pros and cons much more than I just did, but my gut feel is to not do it.

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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:05 pm
These designs, though cheap, could all be better suited to build a small "Hot Rod" exit shuttle, that takes people to things already assembled or made from orbiting debris and asteroids etc, putting equipment into orbit that makes equipment is the next logical step, with a very light minimalist style bullet ship, robotics can withstand Gforces that we simply can't, and my plasma bullet style maglev projectile idea could he tested on a very small test ship, say 2ft by 2", with a mhd powered electromagnet, so the projectile uses the plasma moving past it to power pushing The plasma away, creating a supercavity, this would act like a brake, but a bigger ship could be made that was powered bugs reactor or beamed power.

Bunker busting bombs have VERY rugged electronics, building a robot with this as a cpu or ARM could withstand amazing Gs,

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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:09 pm
As follow-up to the blog post on using the Dragon on a single launch of the Falcon Heavy for lunar missions, I found the "Early Lunar Access" proposal of the early 90's was using a similar architecture as what I was proposing, also using all cryogenic space stages:

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon, page 2: Comparison to 'Early Lunar Access'.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2012/1 ... -cost.html


Bob Clark

_________________
Single-stage-to-orbit was already shown possible 50 years ago with the Titan II first stage.
Contrary to popular belief, SSTO's in fact are actually easy. Just use the most efficient engines
and stages at the same time, and the result will automatically be SSTO.
Blog: http://exoscientist.blogspot.com


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Space Station Commander
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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:00 am
The big difference and increase in scale/capability is from materials. Composites and Al-Li alloys.

Mirrored on your blog.


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