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Long-distance surface-trips by Transrapid instead of rovers

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Sun Apr 03, 2005 3:34 pm
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Long-distance surface-trips by Transrapid instead of rovers 
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Post Long-distance surface-trips by Transrapid instead of rovers   Posted on: Sun Apr 03, 2005 3:34 pm
Repeatedly I thought about trips between several places and locations at the surface of the moon, the Mars and other planets of the solar system.

The astronauts of several Apollo missions used a lunar rover and sometimes it looks like astronauts to the Mars will use a rover too.

But imagine a permanent station at the moon or the Mars or even at moons orbiting the gas giants. Such a station may be growing and the people at the stations my be required to got to several places around the whole body of the planet they are at.

Currently it seems that member of such stations would use a rocket, a rocketplane or a normal space vehicle - suborbital or orbital - to go to places thousands of kilometers away from their station. The reason would be to save time.

Please keep in mind that I am talking of permanent station(s) here and of people living there for several years of their life.

What about using and installing Transrapid or Transrapid-like technology at the planets where such stations will/would be existing on? Modifcations may occur in the future... What about using this technolgy instead of rovers? Especially if stations grow to colonies or colonization occurs by private space travels and misssions?

Will Tansrapid-like vehicles move faster at the moon or at the Mars than at Earth? And how fast would they be? Could the amount of electricity and magnetism required be provided? ...



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Last edited by Ekkehard Augustin on Mon Apr 04, 2005 8:06 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Apr 03, 2005 6:08 pm
They wouldnt need as much energy to go as fast as on earth, since there is no atmosphere on the moon. And a less dense one on Mars. So if you would you use Maglev rail (erm, or whatever its called), you would need a bit less energy then on earth. I dont think using rockets to go from a to b will be any good just to save time. Why should that work on the moon and not on Earth? I mean, the traffic jams are massive, the strees and highways are full, yet so many trucks transporting goods. Why? Because it's still cheaper then airtravel, and you can get mostly anywhere with the cargo.

So i don't see any use for rockets for point to point travel on one single body. The rover is pretty useless, or just for the people who want some fun. It's simply not efficient to travel. First make roads e.g. infrastructure, then travel.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 04, 2005 8:18 am
The longer I think about the more I think that Transrapid-like technologies should be used in genral at the moon and later at the Mars - it should be used for transportation of equipment too. In concrete I remember the plans to install a large radio telescope at the far side of the moon. The purpose is to avoid the noise of earthian radio communication but to make the signals received by that far-side radio telescope avaliable at Earth a sender has to be connected to that telescope that sees the Earth and so is able to route the signals there. As a consequence there has to be a significant distance between the telescope and the sender - two places equipment to be transported to. Only one point should be alandind site for vehicles arriving from Earth - the rest should be done by moon-bound vehicles and the best could be Transrapid/Maglev.

Another point for transporting equipment by that technology might be that a significant amount of all the work to be done will be done by robots - and these may be better equipped by Transrapid/Maglev than by rovers.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 04, 2005 5:45 pm
IMO the available methods of travel would depend on several factors:
  • Average Payload. This includes passengers and freight
  • What fare price will the market bear (how fast do people want to travel)
  • How is demand spread over time.
  • What environmental influences are there.
  • What is the distance to travel

Depending on these factors, various transport methods may be chosen.

A very long range, low-medium density, high fare route is likely to attract ballistic liners and the like.

A rail link (conventional or maglev) IMO isn't that likely unless the route is short-medium range and high or very high density. In terms of infrastructure it is among the most expensive surface travel modes available, though it also has the highest capacity. In terms of implementation either an elevated or underground (tunnel) railroad track is most likely, with rail tunnels being unpressurized and passengers and freight riding in containers moved on and off modular railcars. IMO ground-level tracks will be fairly rare for safety reasons. You can't hear a train coming sealed in a suit.

If costs are a problem or if the route is only incidentally used, an unpaved rover trail will be the most likely solution. Potholes will have to be filled in and crevases bridged or routed around, but other than that the only thing needed are navigation aids.

Paved roads occupy the middle ground between tracks and rails. Heavily used tracks would be paved to prevent a road and rover maintainance nightmare. Note that rover includes everything from singleseat trikes to mammoth all-wheel-driven land trains.

Another possibility for short/medium range travel is a cablecar. This has the benefit of having a lower ground impact than rail, lower setup costs and less sensitivity to ground conditions. On the other hand, a cablecar's total capacity is less than that of a rail link.

Other possibilities also exist. Giant conveyor belts have been suggested in science fiction.

Cheers,
ErikM :twisted:


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 7:14 am
The current situation is that there is no lunar infrastructure at all currently - and the installation of an infrastructure requires technologies. An infrastructure is required to install a station connected to a safe lansing site at which vehicles can land safely without danger of destruction for the station. And infrastructure is required too if a radio telescope should be built at the far side of the moon with connection to a sender that sends the data down to Earth.

As far as humans are working on all this at the moon it has to be taken into account that only limited amounts of oxygen and nitrogen are availiable and that they are provided by delivery from Earth only or mainly at least for the first time.

All this requires fast trips and travels to keep the consumption of oxygen low during trips and travels. For this reason high velocity is needed - and as far as I know Transrapid/maglev provides the highest velocity among all non-rocket vehicles - airtravel is impossible at the moon for a well-known reason.

Rovers a slow compared to Transrapid/maglev - they would be faster if there were roads. But the construction of the required roads would take years whereas the rails of Transprapid/maglev can be carried relatively easyly. To construct a normal railroad would take an amount of time similar to the construction of roads as far as I know the data about construction times.

Not market but requirement is the aspect why I am thinking about Transrapid at moon, Mars and other planets. The lunar rovers of the Apollo mission really don't look like they could be used to carry the amounts of equipment required for the concrete projects mentioned and a lorry would be a very huge object to be carried from Earth to moon - I am doubting if that would be a good idea. ...

...



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:14 pm
erikm wrote:
IMO ground-level tracks will be fairly rare for safety reasons. You can't hear a train coming sealed in a suit.


No, but you'd sure as hell be able to feel it. And besides, if somebody's dumb enough to stand on a set of railroad tracks, they don't need to be endangering the colonists on Mars (via their own stupidity) anyway.

<random thought>I'm envisioning those old silent movies where the villain tied the pretty girl down to the train tracks, and the hero had to save her before the train arrived... At least there'd be a reason for them to be silent.....</random thought>

erikm wrote:
If costs are a problem or if the route is only incidentally used, an unpaved rover trail will be the most likely solution. Potholes will have to be filled in and crevases bridged or routed around, but other than that the only thing needed are navigation aids.

Paved roads occupy the middle ground between tracks and rails. Heavily used tracks would be paved to prevent a road and rover maintainance nightmare. Note that rover includes everything from singleseat trikes to mammoth all-wheel-driven land trains.


I actually kinda like the idea of mini- and super-rovers. If nothing else, dozens of models and sizes would be necessary for scouting out, constructing, and initially supplying a new colony. Those would be very interesting to design.

erikm wrote:
Another possibility for short/medium range travel is a cablecar. This has the benefit of having a lower ground impact than rail, lower setup costs and less sensitivity to ground conditions. On the other hand, a cablecar's total capacity is less than that of a rail link.


Cablecar... As in San Francisco "DING DING" trolley, or as in Swiss Alps ski lift?

erikm wrote:
Other possibilities also exist. Giant conveyor belts have been suggested in science fiction.


Plagiarist.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 1:32 pm
spacecowboy wrote:
I actually kinda like the idea of mini- and super-rovers. If nothing else, dozens of models and sizes would be necessary for scouting out, constructing, and initially supplying a new colony


How about something like the land trains described in Patrick Tilley's Amtrack series of SF novels. Huge 100m long segmented vehicles moving on 3m high pneumatic tyres rolling across the lunar suface would be something to see. :)

I think that mostly transport will be land based vehicles travelling over the lunar surface using wheels or tracks like a tank. Settlements are likely to be grouped together at first for utility distribution and safety reasons which makes long distance travel across the surface unnecessary. As the population increased and more settlements were further apart, rocket flights would be used to connect them possibly via an orbital terminal running scheduled flights between them.

Raw materials would be transported accross the surface on large vehicles to processing plants, the use of rails or cable cars is harder to maintain and less flexible than a wheeled vehicle which can go to many different locations and not just point to point.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:06 pm
That is a situation decades or perhaps centuries in the future. The project of the radio telscope at the far side of the moon is a project of the nearby future - and there will have to be a large distance between that telescope and the sender that can send the data down to Earth.

This causes significant transportation requirements that have to be managed. I am doubting if that can be done by rovers without wasting precious time.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:47 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
This causes significant transportation requirements that have to be managed. I am doubting if that can be done by rovers without wasting precious time.


Agreed. They would probably use an Armadillo type craft to cover the distance as a rail or cable car system would be far to expensive and the number of people travelling relatively small.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:00 am
It may be wirth to go into the details to find out the real numbers of the expenses - I could imagine that Transrapid/maglev is between Armadillo type crafts at the one side and rails or cable cars at the other. The real Transrapid here in Germany would go from Hamburg to Berlin no longer than half the time a normal car goes - and as time goes by the possible velocity would be increased. As far as I know the infrastructure would be ready in significant less tiem that a highway or a railroad.

The Armadillo type crafts would require and consume propellent whereas the other technologies could use the free available energy of space which I would prefer by far.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:51 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
All this requires fast trips and travels to keep the consumption of oxygen low during trips and travels. For this reason high velocity is needed - and as far as I know Transrapid/maglev provides the highest velocity among all non-rocket vehicles - airtravel is impossible at the moon for a well-known reason.

True. I was subsuming things like 'I want to travel really fast because my air is running out' into a high fareprice. Currently, price isn't much of an issue since you have to ship in your air. Given the current life support endurance a hopper (ballistic craft) will be the choice for anything over short range or prepared routes. All other travel will be using rovers.

Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Rovers a slow compared to Transrapid/maglev - they would be faster if there were roads. But the construction of the required roads would take years whereas the rails of Transprapid/maglev can be carried relatively easyly. To construct a normal railroad would take an amount of time similar to the construction of roads as far as I know the data about construction times.

Unfortunately the construction issue is a bit more complicated than you might think. As I understand it, a maglev 'rail' is a steel or reenforced concrete beam which has magnets imbedded in or mounted on it to allow lift, lateral control, forward propulsion and to provide power to the cars. A more conventional beam-mounted conventional railway has two or three steel rails mounted on sleepers or the beam itself. So if you are building a track, regardless of type (dual rail, monorail or maglev), you still have to manufacture those beams, ship them to your railhead, site and embed footings for them and then mount them.

I said earlier that above ground tracks might be elevated for safety reasons. While that is certainly true because it prevents people/rovers blundering/tripping onto the track or stepping on a third rail, another reason is that you don't have to grade and lay down bedding for the entire line.

Building a rail line underground has the added benefit that it's radiation shielded. If there's a breakdown anyone having to get off halfway should appreciate this. However, given the cost and effort likely to be involved there probably won't be too many underground rail lines. Even cut-and-cover isn't cheap.

Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
The lunar rovers of the Apollo mission really don't look like they could be used to carry the amounts of equipment required for the concrete projects mentioned and a lorry would be a very huge object to be carried from Earth to moon - I am doubting if that would be a good idea.

It might surprise you. There are a number of ways prices can be brought down fairly quickly.

One method of course is In Site Resource Utilisation. You only ship in those parts you really have to have and cannot (afford to) build locally with tools that were shipped in. For instance, a rover would have a chassis and wheels (including wiremesh tires) made from locally smelted iron. The wiring harness and engines would be brought in though. In the case of concrete, there seems to be research going on around making forms of concrete from lunar materials. Sodium silicate and sulfur are materials that get mentioned (try google or go here).

Another way to bring costs down would be to design for versatility. The rover above would, for instance, be built as a powered flatbed chassis with sockets for power and control lines (in, out and through), onto which components could be bolted in a few hours. To use it as a rover to transport some people, a habitat module and some batteries/solar panels would be mounted on it. For cargo, mount the batteries/panels and a radio (and teleoperate it). To use it as part of a land train daisy-chain its power and control lines to the previous chassis and fit a pulling bar, but more as a steering/safety aid than anything else. Power for the land train could be provided by any of several means. Mounting a nuclear reactor on one car is a possibility.

spacecowboy wrote:
Cablecar... As in San Francisco "DING DING" trolley, or as in Swiss Alps ski lift?

The ski lift variety. You still have to site the towers (which will be a PITA) but afterwards can more or less ignore any crevases and rough terrain in between (except for maintainance visits). Other bonuses are that you can have almost the entire drivesystem under pressure and can hang power/data lines over the same towers. At stations cars would be placed on and removed from the cables as required.

Andy Hill wrote:
How about something like the land trains described in Patrick Tilley's Amtrack series of SF novels. Huge 100m long segmented vehicles moving on 3m high pneumatic tyres rolling across the lunar suface would be something to see.

If you're using large chassis as basis you get a large land train. Something like this perhaps. Of course, the tires would be reenforced spun steel wire, like that on the LRV. Would be an imposing sight to see though, I'll agree with that.

Hmm. A thought about railroads. If you aren't too interested about it being around long-term and it's only shortrange, a high tech variant of a World War I narrow gauge military railroad might be considered. They were designed to be quick to lay and pull up though on an unprepared bed they didn't last long. A lunar variant might use mats to help spread the load from the sleepers over the dusty surface. It would have selfpowered railcars (no third rail) and speeds would be low.

Cheers,
ErikM :twisted:


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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 06, 2005 9:27 pm
I like the cablecars, I really like the land trains (remember, colonies will be established wherever there are natural resources to be found, and not necessarily that close to each other), and as for getting data from a Farside telescope -- well, that's why those Russian boys invented radio satellites.

Forget railroads. They're bloody inefficient -- they can't change their path.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 07, 2005 1:00 pm
Hello, erikM,

what you say would require an industry at the moon. If there would be an industry at the moon it would look different to me than now.

Roads and railways require very lot of human work - much more than the Transrapid as far as I know. Currently all the beams - regardless of if they are fro railways or for Transrapids will have to be produced at Earth and then flown to the moon. And they will have to be installed by humans.

Once all this is done I see the advatages for use in construction and building the radio telescope at the side of the Transrapid currently. The Transrapid is faster than rovers and railways because of less friction - and the Transrapid has more transportation capacity per trip than a Armadillo type craft.

Regarding life support there would be advantages too if only equipment and no humans are transported if there were humans waiting for the equipment at the destination of the transport. The longer the humans working around the destination have to wait for the equipment the more atmosphere, water and food they consume.

I didn't have in mind prices or costs here but capacity and the like - do I misunderstand you?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:32 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
what you say would require an industry at the moon. If there would be an industry at the moon it would look different to me than now.

True. However, any serious colonial effort would more or less require basic industries. After electricity generation, the second would probably be oxygen extraction. After that, the third will probably be making some form of concrete out of lunar soil and rock. Concrete just has too many uses not to have and masses far too much (about 2 tons per cubic meter) to even try to import. Even if a small 'garden shed' plant (I'll give it a 0.5 tons per day capacity with a crew of 4) massed 200 tons total (including a bulldozer, delivery rover and spare parts for two years), it would still recoup its launch mass well inside two years. Uses include building habitats, paving heavily used roads (lunar dust is abrasive) and paving pads (less FOD on launch/landing).

Food production, which people might think would be the second or third industry, would probably be the fifth or sixth. Growing food requires air, a sealed habitat (concrete and/or metal, or an imported balloon) and electricity (for lighting and HVAC, among other things). Other necessities, like soil/fertilizer, water and furnishings, can be imported or recycled/reclaimed from other activities. Until food can be grown importing it shouldn't be impossible. A net use of 1 kilogram per person/day means 2.5 tons can feed 25 people for 100 days.

Processing regolith for metals (iron/steel and aluminum to start with) will also be high on the agenda. Initial production would likely be sheet metal in various thicknesses and bar stock extruded into various shapes. Uses would be to make habitats airtight, to make storage tanks and to build rover chassis.

Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Roads and railways require very lot of human work - much more than the Transrapid as far as I know. Currently all the beams - regardless of if they are fro railways or for Transrapids will have to be produced at Earth and then flown to the moon. And they will have to be installed by humans.

I strongly urge you to read this article about the construction of the Shanghai maglev line. The girders they used weighed about 200 tons per 25 meters and were assembled close to the site with local concrete and steel and imported fittings (magnets etc). For a lunar track, even 50 tons per 25 meters would be totally unacceptable if it had to be imported.

Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Once all this is done I see the advatages for use in construction and building the radio telescope at the side of the Transrapid currently. The Transrapid is faster than rovers and railways because of less friction - and the Transrapid has more transportation capacity per trip than a Armadillo type craft.

True, but the effort and shipping mass required to start up the rail line will make it unfeasible. People would have to choose between having a (short) imported rail line and having a selfsupporting settlement capable of building that rail line (or a cablecar) a few years later. On the other hand, grading a rover trail and optionally shipping some concrete or sheet metal one-way to pave a hopper pad doesn't require a massive investment of effort and can largely be done via teleoperation.

Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Regarding life support there would be advantages too if only equipment and no humans are transported if there were humans waiting for the equipment at the destination of the transport. The longer the humans working around the destination have to wait for the equipment the more atmosphere, water and food they consume.

This basically means the supply batch size, the number of resupply trips needed and space required to store supplies goes up. The tele-operated cargo rover I mentioned earlier is one way to deal with the cargo shipments. If life support requirements really are high enough that a rover trip couldn't be made without exhausting life support, people would have to travel by hopper and freight by rover.

Cheers,
ErikM :twisted:


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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 07, 2005 10:12 pm
Assuming that there is some sort of navigational beacon system set up along the way, there's no reason that a rover can't make an entire trip by itself, using something similar to the autopilot in today's aircraft.

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