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How to achieve the Lunar X PRIZE...

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:32 am
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How to achieve the Lunar X PRIZE... 
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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:55 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
There is every precedent for price increases and none for reductions.


There is also no precedent for having an indiginous rival supplying launch services that much cheaper than Pegasus. In the past there wasn't the competition to drive the price down and the US military could be relied upon to foot the bill what ever it was but now there is an alternative with Falcon 1 and SpaceX are in a position to take virtually all their customers if they dont drop their prices. Faced with that I cant see how they can maintain their crrent price structure.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 28, 2007 5:08 pm
I doubt Pegasus can compete with Falcon 1. It will simply be withdrawn from the market if Falcon 1 is successful. And I think the price of a Falcon 1 launch will go up, not down. In a way it has already gone up. Falcon 1e is $8.5 million; but of course that carries a bigger payload. (Oh, it just occurred to me that I had been assuming the 723 kg payload was the $7 million Falcon 1 launch. It isn’t. It is the $8.5 million Falcon 1e. The Falcon 1 payload is only about 475 kg). And I will go out on a limb here and predict that SpaceX will not be able to lower prices due to reusability. They will find the cost of recovering and refurbishing the first stage for reuse is as high as building a new one.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:17 pm
I just cruised a bit through the Internet and found that Arianespace is offering ASAP5:

That is a system for launching auxiliary micro or mini payloads on normal Ariane 5 launches.

The mass limits are 120 kilograms for micro and 300 kg for mini payloads. The question besides if that's enough mass for the moon landing is how much this launch would cost.

Perhaps it would be even possible to ride for free except the payload support structure in case the big satellite customers agree to that (as they would have to pay anyway for the launch).

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:24 pm
The German space magazine "Raumfahrt Concret" has an article about the German Aerospace Center (DLR) plans for the Moon exploration.

They show a quite complex sample return mission with a mass of about 4 tonnes (included is an additional satellite). Their rover is capable of surviving 6 to 12 Lunar days and driving of some 50 kilometers.

It needs about 465 Watts power and weighs about 300 kilograms (30 kg scientific equipment).

So I wonder if when we delete the sample return part of the mission so that we get perhaps about 2.5 t of mass if that is not better than the current idea to make it as light as possible.

Such a "heavy" rover would deliver real scientific value back and a launch onboard a Russian rocket would be still "cheap" (I think I listed somewhere in the Google Lunar X Prize Section the launch cost of a Dnepr or Kosmos rocket with 4 or 5 tonnes into LEO for some $12 millions).

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:40 pm
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
Their rover is capable of surviving 6 to 12 Lunar days and driving of some 50 kilometers.
That is why it is so heavy. A rover that does not have to survive a lunar night would be MUCH lighter and cheaper and easier to build. And it would win the basic $20 million prize.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 11, 2007 6:00 pm
Yes, but I wonder if one could "sell" slots for scientific instruments to finance a bit of the mission?

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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:41 pm
Hello, Klaus,

the cricial question will be if it would be sufficient to justify launch costs - including their funding - that in addition to the investment into the rover outweigh or exceed the prize money of $ 20 mio to $ 30 mio.

The Surveyors would have required a Falcon 9 - a Falcon 5 isn't under construction yet - which has launch costs of $ 35 mio which minus 10% would still be $ 31.5 mio. To keep the launch costs at $ 6.2 mio to $ 7.65 mio (Falcon 1 with Merlin1 or Merlin 1e minus 10%) the weight of the lander plus instruments plus TLI-injection stage must be kept at less than the weight of a Surveyor and less than 723 kg or 570 kg.

If it all is sufficient to get funding there will have to be an agreement about to whom the prize money should go. In the case of WK/SSO the money has gone to the Mojave Aerospace Venture.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:18 pm
I wrote on page 1 in this thread

Quote:
A different possible launcher would be the Russian Dnepr rocket with about 4 tons into LEO and launch costs of some $10-11 millions.


So, the question would be, if it makes sense (or if it's even necessary in case the rover is too heavy) to swap the $6-7 million Falcon 1 with a Dnepr rocket.

It would be more expensive then of course but the payload mass would be increased a lot.

My basic idea behind this: If I exceed Falcon 1 payload mass and need a larger rocket, why then not use all the payload mass that rocket offers even if it's not necessary for the Lunar X Prize?

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Post Dnepr $$$+++   Posted on: Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:45 pm
Keep in mind when discussing the Russian Dnepr, that the Russians have a new "economic philosophy". This is reflected in >2X increases in price for future manned Soyuz flights and (according to Bigelow) has also been applied to the Dnepr with costs raised 2x to 3X.

The Dnepr was a very attractive use of a surplus = obsolete missile, turning scrap into useful cash with a modest investment of labor. It offered very interesting performance - with a few disadvantages (such as the launch site, orbital inclination and US ITAR rules) to balance against its modest cost. The Russians will eventually learn that when you get greedy enough, such markets are pinched off and you get to keep your old scrap metal instead of turning it into gold!

This is all good for SpaceX, since these were the only rockets which equaled Musk's projected launch costs. Now all these customers can use the half or full bay Falcon IV and avoid the Russian drawbacks.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:28 am
As someone potentially participating, rpspeck, do you think a piggyback payload on an Ariane 5 (or an US launcher if they offer it) would be a realistic possibility or is SpaceX the only feasible solution?

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:43 am
Perhaps there is an opportunity for someone like Armadillo to sell landers to more than one team so that anyone competing would just have to think about the rover.

Also if SpaceX developed a small kick stage to get teams into lunar orbit from a Falcon 1 launch it would create a new market for their rockets for anyone wanting to land something on the moon's surface.

With the "how to get there at a reasonable cost" part sorted out I bet there would be a lot of interest from governments and private companies wishing to do research on the moon.

I think that if people dont have to sort out the whole transport infrastructure and only have to concentrate on their own lander more would be willing to send rovers to the moon, not just to win this contest but also to do research.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:28 am
With some people already working on landers, and some people already working on rovers, there are clearly opportunities for collaboration. Everyone sticking to what they know, no-one spreading themselves too thinly, and it starts to look achievable.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:58 pm
I was wondering whether it might be possible to use one of the Apollo experiments to home in on a site and grab an extra $5m that is being offered to a team that visits one.

Wasn't there some sort of reflector set up to bounce a laser off of from earth to measure the exact distance to the moon? Could this be used by an incoming craft to guide it to a site?

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:32 pm
Hello, Andy hill,

sounds like a very good idea. The only question may be if the experiment is still going on and to what degree the idea would be an obstacle for the experiment - wouldn't the vehicle using the reflector block out each laser beam directed to that reflector?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:37 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
The only question may be if the experiment is still going on and to what degree the idea would be an obstacle for the experiment - wouldn't the vehicle using the reflector block out each laser beam directed to that reflector?


I think that the reflector is no longer being used but obviously it is still on the lunar surface and I think it was a passive device and as such should still be functional.

The laser might be fired from the vehicle itself as part of a range finding device.

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