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Lunar Landers

Posted by: rpspeck - Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:23 pm
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Lunar Landers 
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Post Lunar Landers   Posted on: Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:23 pm
Micro-Space's development of an X-Prize Cup, Lunar Lander competitor yeilded such a lightweight and structurally efficient system that we realized we were already building a FULL SCALE MANNED Lunar Lander. This assumes that we will use 90% Hydrogen Peroxide (as used for the Rocket Man backpack) rather than the 50% Peroxide we have been flying. We will probably also mix Hydrazine with our Methanol. These will yield over 300 seconds vacuum ISP and are compatable with our epoxy tank materials.

Our startling contention that the vehicle we displayed was a FULL SCALE system for MANNED lunar access is of course not an engineering surprise. It is well known that a vehicle holding 300 pounds of high performance rocket fuel (as this one can) can transport more than 300 pounds of mass to the lunar surface or back to orbit. The fact that this can be done with a vehicle empty weight of less than 50 pounds is perhaps unexpected. But the biggest surprise for many is that there are individuals who would consider – actually welcome - ascent from the Moon clad in a pressure suit and riding little more than a bicycle frame! Those who are willing will shatter all timelines and price estimates for personal access to the Moon!

"News" at <www.micro-space.com> now has a drawing of our vehicle and other details, and will soon have photos. The Human version will modify the wire braced frame, moving the tanks out to provide a place for a man or woman to stand in the middle. Clipping in a parachute harness, with waist belt and boot stabilizers, will minimize center of gravity changes.

These “Ultralightâ€


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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 04, 2007 4:19 pm
Hello, rpsepck,

what do you think about the idea to enhance the capabilities of Micro Space's lander towards a rescue vehicle for Mars rovers like Opportunity when trapped in a dune?

I don't know what to consider to be best but it could provide a ramp for example.

I am asking because you mention in the Technology section that the lander could be used on Mars.

Could this imrpve the chances of getting more interest by the public or even by NASA and others?



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Post A Shovel   Posted on: Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:08 pm
I consider a shovel, in the hands of a human astronaut, to be the best Rover Rescue technique. This sounds like a joke, but it is not. I have decades of experience with robots and know that robotic capabilities are extremely limited even with massively expensive systems.

On the other hand, the ability of humans to survive in challenging conditions, and get work done, is amazing! (Read accounts of 9/11 rescue workers). It will soon be demonstrated that the costs for austere, ultralight human planetary missions ARE LESS than unmanned efforts. This should not be surprising, since even “Unmanned Air Vehiclesâ€


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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 17, 2007 9:09 am
Hello, rpspeck,

I agree. I think like you.

I was asking only because NASA, ESA and otthers are going to continue to send robotic rovers that like Opportunity could run into problems with sand dunes.

So it might be interesting if they are accomanied by a lander developed by Micro Space that is quite similar to your lander for the Lunar Lander Challenge. The version for rescuing robotic martian rovers befor the first manned trip to Mars might be fueld using ISRU and called to the loctaion where a rover is trapped.

This version of the lander should have the ability to go several kilometers and there refuel by ISRU again.

If NASA would consider this to be interesting it could increase your revenues and funds.



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Post MARS NOW - Only the explorers names are unknown!   Posted on: Sat Mar 17, 2007 8:28 pm
Regarding NASA: keep in mind that Armadillo Aerospace, after submitting a preliminary proposal to NASA for a “Lunar Landerâ€


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Post    Posted on: Fri May 11, 2007 7:09 am
Hello, rpspeck,

thinking about landers including landers carrying fuel down to the lunar surface I have another question regarding Micro Space's lander(s) this moment.

Can you imagine to apply the skycrane concept where the payload is let down to the surface by a crane while the lander is kept at an altitude of several meters? I have in mind another aspect than NASA has for Mars.

a) If this would be applied from higher altitudes during descent the payload could be landed before the skycrane would have to land - the skycrane could return into orbit without landing itself.

b) Nearly each payload could be landed also in rocky surroundings full of boulders. luanr and martian mountains etc. might be accessible easier.

This I should discuss in the Technology section also but at present I am particularly interested in your answer and thoughts about it because I am wondering if this is something companies like Micro Space might do.

What about it?



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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:17 pm
Hi rpspeck,

Have you considered trying for the Google lunar prize? It sounds like it is right up your alley. I guess the tall pole in the tent for you would be the $6 million for a Falcon 1 launch, unless you can find a cheaper ride somewhere. On the other hand, if you had a credible space craft completed and ready to launch, you might get SpaceX to give you a free ride for a share of the prize money.


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Post Google Lunar X Prize   Posted on: Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:35 pm
We are VERY interested in this new prize!

It plays nicely into our strengths: storable fuels, low lander weight and our "split tank cluster" configuration, with space for a human voyager or a lunar rover.

I also believe that (unlike the one shot, NASA funded "Lunar Lander" terrestrial simulation) this effort has important follow on potential.

Nations which have spent hundreds of $$ Millions to be counted as "partners" for the ISS (with zilch return), will be able to purchase and equip dedicated copy Lunar Rovers with specialized sensors and do real research and exploration. This will highlight their national corporations and laboratories (who make the special sensors) as well as their commitment to be real space explorers. The cost of cementing such a position can be as little as $20 to $30 Million, and more than 20 such craft will probably be produced and used.

Both the competitors and follow on craft will be able to tap public interest similar to that captured by Spirit and Opportunity (A Lot!). We really have explored a very small part of the Moon close up. Add the Google reputation and promotion and the Commercial, Sponsorship value for these rovers is also far, far greater, than the terrestrial Lander simulation.

Since an exciting follow on application has now been announced, the sponsorship value for those current "Lunar Lander" efforts which seem to promise actual future operation on the Moon is also increased.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:59 pm
But how likely is it that you would be able to get to the point on which you buy a ride on a Falcon?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 20, 2007 6:07 pm
I noticed this thread where you quite positively talk about the use of the Falcon 9 when talking about a Mars misison:

"Anything up to a 3.6 meter (12 foot) diameter habitat should be no problem. I typically estimate "small airliner cabin" sizes (3 meter diameter and 4 meter long) at 40 to 60 pounds mass. Volume need not be "expensive" as payload mass.

The Falcon 9 should be able to handle a lightweight SOLO mission with Mars surface EVA and modest sample return.

The Falcon 9 - S9 both allows a two person landing crew and greater capability for sample return or other expedition complexities."


Have you got any real timeframes in mind for this? Do you feel there is any other real comppetitors to the Falcon 9 that you could use as well?

Also it would be great to see some images of your latest progress, will there be any updates available soon?

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 20, 2007 6:54 pm
Both the Atlas V and the Delta IV can be listed as alternatives for a lightweight Mars Mission. It is not essential that the expedition crew be lifted at the same time as the expedition gear. I continue to "Prophecy" that the first human Mars mission will have a budget of "not more than $100 Million", and this could include either of those vehicles (possibly with promotional discounts).

The $27 Million promised price for the Falcon 9 is not necessary to achieve this cost target.

Recently I considered the Russian Dnepr very attractive for deep space missions. I no longer think any Russian launch vehicle should be seriously considered: they have discovered "Opportunity Pricing", and can be expected to charge all the market will bear (short term). I do not think Russian business people are sophisticated enough to understand that a short term pricing focus can produce great long term business damage. Just as with OPEC, high prices today will empower competitive development which will eventually undercut their profit margins.

I have no "time frame" since the limiting factor is now funding and not technology. No technical obstacle stands in the way of an expedition embarking for Mars by January 2014.

The reality that "affordable" Mars expeditions can now be undertaken - with risks comparable to those of Polar expeditions 100 years ago - has not yet begun to sink in, and until it does funding will be unattainable.


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Post Funding Chances?   Posted on: Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:57 pm
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
But how likely is it that you would be able to get to the point on which you buy a ride on a Falcon?


At the moment the chance is very slim: this is particularly true since the potential for both follow on business and sponsorship I see is invisible to many.

Yet this is little different from the original X Prize. At that time the very concept of a privately developed spacecraft was laughed at. The majority of the prize money came from "experts" willing to bet against success. Few were talking about "affordable" private space travel and no one expected it to be funded before the Prize was even awarded!

Most argue that the potential follow on for this effort is smaller. That is probably true, but the task is also easier! (And the prize bigger!) It is easier to BUY a space launch than to develop a new vehicle to accomplish it. The actual flight hardware is a small fraction of the mass of either SpaceShipOne or White Knight. And the path to repeat Rover sales is much easier that transition to a production Human Aerospace Plane!

The potential international users (I expect NASA to be one of the slowest and possibly last to adopt this research methodology) can be expected to sit quietly until it becomes obvious that something is going to be accomplished. A very astute researcher might be able to penetrate official skepticism and find the excitement fired in foreign research teams who understood that THEY could soon join NASA in doing original research on a remote "planetary" surface. And that THEIR expertise in analytic techniques could soon be should showcased to the world. For this, and their national corporate sponsors, more than 20 of these $20 to $30 Million rover copies will be purchased as an affordable way to step into original space research.

Shorter term, the willingness of Google to aggressively promote this publicly (which they certainly have the ability and motivation to do) will have a very large impact on the sponsorship prospects. SpaceX (and possibly others) could indirectly sponsor early efforts by making excess launch capacity available for early team demonstrations at affordable prices. This could take the form of "Super Cube Sat" opportunities (also of interest to universities). The "Cube Sat" option itself (at $40,000) is itself a significant step for a team to demonstrate their ability to get something interesting to work in space.

An "Off the Wall" possibility is that private Foundation Support (which once had real impact in aerospace: Guggenheim support for both GALCIT and Dr. Goddard) could again become a reality. This would be triggered by price tags 100 to 1000 times lower than NASA budgets for significant advances.

The "High Cost to Orbit" (particularly for a dedicated launch to a unique orbit with a fuel filled vehicle) has always been the stumbling block for space development. This has ruled out HP and Apple, Garage/basement type developments.

But I think that the Google Lunar X Prize has achieved a balance between difficulty and public excitement, cost, sponsor attraction and potential follow on business which which will lead to success. Micro-Space will make every effort to be part of that!


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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:08 pm
Hello, rpspeck,

now that the LLC hasn't been won again - do you consider to compete for it next year? The award would help finance your participation in the lunar Google-contest, the participation could be a test of the lander required for that contest and you could add the delivery of a payload to the LLC-contest.

What about it?



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Post XPCup 2008   Posted on: Tue Oct 30, 2007 7:36 pm
Our plan is to ACTUALLY compete (both Level 1 and Level 2) in the X Prize Cup, NG Lunar Lander Competition in 2008.

We had hoped to see Armadillo walk away with prize money - since they have worked much harder for it than any other team - and were surprised that they did not.

Now that all of the lead Armadillo once enjoyed has evaporated - thanks to "Murphy" - the rest of us will have only ourselves to blame if we neither win nor come close in challenging 2008 flights.

The flip side (relative to being disappointed to see Armadillo fail) is, as you suggest, that the remaining prizes (and associated prestige) would be a big shot in the arm for our Google Lunar X Prize effort.

In spite of a longer list of 2007 competitors, we still claim a tenuous #2 ranking due to the facts that: 1, we have FLOWN 17 of our liquid fuel systems (with the same motors and fuel); 2, that we have in production fuel tanks that allow much better mass ratios than necessary and make possible surprisingly light weight systems; and 3, that we have achieved 2 stabilized, near hover flights with the similar gyro referenced, gimbaled motor control systems.

This tenuous position (#2) will, of course, be quickly lost if we do not accelerate our developments and start flying.

(We have never pretended anything other than the "Dark Horse" label once used for us when the teams are evaluated on the basis of "sexy looking models", "Slick Brochures" and "snappy PR".)


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Post HUMAN Lunar Landers   Posted on: Tue Oct 30, 2007 8:18 pm
The Micro-Space "Human Lunar Lander" drew quite a bit of attention at the 2007 X Prize Cup event.

Probably, not all of those who saw "Sally", suspended in her "space suit" within this skeletal lander, actually understood what they were looking at. But even they realized that the ambition of this team went far beyond flying robots.

Our displayed "Human Lunar Lander" is an eclectic combination of our production components and simulated parts to complete a mock up. But it is full size! Barely bigger than a telephone booth, this is a full scale Human Lunar Lander!

Good storable fuels require less than a 2 to 1 mass ratio to shuttle from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon. For the astronaut willing to travel in their "pressure suit", given the low structural mass of our landers, the ten 4 inch diameter tanks will hold all the fuel required.

Economical travel to Orbit, the Moon and Mars is just around the corner for those willing to live like mountaineers and travel light!


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