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Moon race - Armadillo vs NASA

Posted by: JamesHughes - Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:01 am
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Moon race - Armadillo vs NASA 
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Post Moon race - Armadillo vs NASA   Posted on: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:01 am
Ok, so NASA wants to be back on the moon by 2020, with all that moonbase stuff.

At their current rate of progress, will Armadillo beat them to it?? It's 14 years (well, probably longer for NASA sadly), and if the funding is available, I think they could.

Any thoughts?

James


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:52 am
Well while I would be pulling for Armadillo all the way, I don't think so.

I think that Nasa would get there first, just to spite a small private company from getting there first.

However I think Armadillo will hit the moon with a small rocket before Nasa puts any people there, if that counts =)


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 07, 2006 10:05 am
It depends on if they would try to get there of their own or if they cooperate with one or more other companies - t/Space, SpaceX, SpaceDev etc. - and if the other(s) has/have sufficient private capital/funds I think.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 22, 2006 10:25 pm
NASA beats everybody hands down.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 28, 2006 4:18 am
I would think a focused cooperative effort by Armadillo and JP Aerospace could put someone on the Moon (and bring them back) in ten years or less. Armadillo on it's on might be able to beat NASA to the moon. Hard one to assess.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 28, 2006 2:35 pm
I think things would have to change considerably before Armadillo would be able to compete in any race to the moon with NASA. Its finances alone would need to improve by several magnitudes I think and while John obviously has a certain amount of money he is willing to spend he does not have bottomless pockets (unfortunately).

Once Armadillo gets to LEO and there is an income stream coming in from outside to invest in bigger/better hardware then I think things will change but at the moment they are not in the same race.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 28, 2006 2:53 pm
I have to agree with publiusr on this one. There is WAY more to going to the Moon than just making a rocket engine that can lift the required weight. Than alone is a big enough problem, but you also need a world wide tracking network, very reliable environmental controls, really good navigation, and hundreds of little things I can't even imagine right now. John himself said Pixel is not a prototype lunar lander; it is just a vehicle specially designed to win that prize. Yeah, the deltaV for the prize is about the same as the real LM, but a real lunar lander would be totally different, with lower thrust and more fragile structure, due to the lower gravity environment. Oh, and much better landing gear.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 29, 2006 10:02 pm
There is a lot that goes into insuring close tolerances. Many individual parts have to be weighed--it isn't just thrown together. If you put a payload atop a rocket it had better be worth its ride.

I remember video footage of one of the small SDI interceptor drone packages hovering over a net.

The craft was not meant to hover in 1g, being meant for space-usage.

But hover it did. With tiny pulses it was rock steady--with very brief pulses out to the side. It would fire--drop a bit--fire and get up to exactly the same height it was before. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen--and I remember this test from the late 1980s.

Made by professionals.


Put 100 tons of these tiny things in orbit--and get the launch and separation sequence done and over with during peacetime--and I can wipe out a whole squadron of ICBMs. Who cares if it can't differentiate between nosecone, MIRV bus, decoys and warheads?

I'll hit them ALL.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Dec 30, 2006 5:52 am
Time will tell. Although I thought they had a good chance to take the X-prise as well (until the fuel problem bit them).

I don't think you can compare what NASA accomplished with Apollo to what may be possible for a small company like Armadillo. I also wouldn't think Pixel and Texel would have much if anything to do with whatever Armadillo may come up with for a moon mission. Pixel and Texel were really only meant for one thing, to take home the lunar lander prize money. I'm sure that they'll get a lot more flight time for demostration flights as an added bonus in addition to the lunar landing challenge but I doubt those two rockets will have anything more to do with whatever Armadillo may come up with for a real lunar mission than any of their other rockets. I also think that Armadillo will be 'into the black' as far as revenue goes long before they get to orbit. I think between prize money and suborbital tourism they'll have a revenue stream before going to orbit.

I would tend to doubt a hypothetical future Armadillo moon mission would be at all comparable to anything NASA comes up with. I would imagine Armadillo would be more inclined to simply use the 2nd stage/lander from a 2 stage theoretical orbital ship to go to and land on the moon. I'm not sure any sort of world wide tracking network owned or borrowed by Armadillo would be necessary. They could simply go by the seat of their pants or tie into several existing radio telescope networks tied to the internet. Current tech with a bit of creative programming is likely to solve that particular problem. I figure the easiest way for Armadillo to accomplish a moon mission would be by launching from JP Aerospaces Dark Sky station (once/if that's built). They would probably need two additional launches for refueling, using some sort of 'tanker' rocket. The first refuel once they get to orbit for the trip to and back from the moon and a second refuel so they could land back home. Although if they get high enough performance they might be able to pull off such a mission with a single refuel. I also tend to think that life support and such won't be as big of a deal as many would believe, certainly won't be as big a problem as it was for Apollo.

I also tend to think that NASA will screw themselves over, causing their current moon mission plans to work out about as well as their original space shuttle/space station plans and probably take longer then what it took from the original shuttle/station idea of the late '70s to the (someday) finished ISS. IF it takes NASA less than 30 years or so from today to return to the moon, I'll be stunned and amazed, happily stunned and amazed but still quite shocked.

Granted it may very well take Armadillo 10, 20 or 30 years to accomplish a moon mission and someone else may beat them to it but unless something really strange happens I don't see NASA getting back to the moon any time even close to when they expect to.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Dec 30, 2006 4:26 pm
Hello, TJ,

With Pixel and Texel they get experiences and insights into how to conceive, develop and build a real lunar lander that can take of at one lunar location, fly to another, land there and return then.

It also might be that NASA really involves theri vehicles into NASA's concept - as far as I know they are forced to because they explicitly and publicly say at the NASA-website that the vehicle winning the Lunar Lander Challenge will be involved directly - in another thread I quoted NASA and linked to the website.

Since the issue and guarantee was done publicly even lawsuits may be successful.

To develop Pixel and Texel to win the prize money only doesn't mean yet that no real lunar lander will be built - the prize money simply can be the capital required to develop a larger and more capabable lunar lander the experiences and insights got by Pixel and Texel (might) go into.

They might be prototypes also and/or Armadillo Aerospace might license out the technology to thers and get money for the licences.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Dec 31, 2006 3:03 am
I'm sure that something from Pixel and Texel will wind up in a real lunar lander if they ever build one, just like something from pretty much everything they've ever fired a rocket engine under will also have some influence on such a machine. I just think they're more likely to simply use whatever lander they come up with to get back to Earth to land on the moon. The hardware should easily be comparable and it'll simply be a matter of software which is one of Armadillos biggest strengths.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:05 pm
I wouldn't think Armadillo are contemplating a Moon program. Their focus seems to be manned sub-orbital flight, and low cost orbital launchers. If they manage to put a small (< 10 kg) satellite in orbit in the next few years, that will be a tremendous achievement, and hopefully lead to commercial success and much greater things.

A minimal moon landing, however, requires thousands of kg's in lunar orbit, which means many tens of thousands of kg's in Earth orbit, which means tens of thousands of tons of launch weight. This compared to Pixel & Texel's one ton launch weight.

If Armadillo reach orbit, and I hope and expect they will, the next step would be scaling up to commercial size payloads, not developing all the other elements of a moon program.

I could see them providing some or all of the propulsion elements in collaboration with others though.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:51 pm
LEO is halfway to anywhere. If you can get there cheaply, you are already king of the world.
Pulling a one-way lunar landing mission from cheap LEO access becomes a relative piece of cake, because you can try and fail LOTS until you get things right with basically no consequences.
Scary thought for established aerospace industry, aint it ?


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Post    Posted on: Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:07 pm
no_way wrote:
LEO is halfway to anywhere...


Not really true, that's known as Heinlein's error. LEO if half the Delta V you need to get to anywhere. But mass ratio scales exponentially with Delta V. So even with LOX/LH2, LEO is only 20% of the way to anywhere in terms of launch mass.

But yes, cheap access to LEO is a great advantage. Once you're there, simple low thrust, low pressure engines, can get you anywhere.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:22 pm
According to Prof. Collins' answer to me which I posted in the Financial Barriers section as the initial post of new thread he has been told by engineers that LEO is halfway to anywhere.

As Prof. Collins explains in his scientific documents the links to are listed in the answer posted the concept he applies is that the vehicle leaving LEO for anywhere is NOT launched from the ground, the erthian surface but it is kept waiting in LEO - it doesn't need to be launched from ground no more.

In that concept the passengers simply are carried into LEO - and then some or a few of them enter the waiting vehicle to anywhere.

In that case it in fact turns out that the costs into LEO are around half those to anywhere.

So if the uissue "LEO is halfway to anywhere" is right or not simply is a matter of the concept and the perspective - the concept makes the difference as well as the view.

In so far no_way is right and regarding Heinlein the questionis what his concept was.



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