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Billion dollar moon trip

Posted by: ruperty - Sun May 24, 2015 11:17 am
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Billion dollar moon trip 
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Post Re: Billion dollar moon trip   Posted on: Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:26 pm
RGClark wrote:
I think individual flights to the Moon could be done at the few hundred million dollars range by commercial space. The reason is SpaceX has said it could do a manned lunar landing using two Falcon Heavy's and a Dragon capsule.


They surely could. But they can't afford to do it on their own dime. And getting to the Moon isn't really useful unless you have something to do, which costs even more.

As always the limiting factor is money.


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Post Re: Billion dollar moon trip   Posted on: Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:13 am
A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, because it used to be. But anymore, putting together a trip to the Moon is going to cost a lot more than 1 billion dollars. To do a return to the Moon properly, we need to establish a transportation system which will transfer people and cargo from Earth orbit the the lunar surface, excavating equipment that can work on the Moon, and light weight materials that can be used in underground construction of habitat. If we can't go to the Moon to stay, it is not worth going back.

I estimate the cost of a proper lunar campaign to be around 700 billion dollars over a 15 year period, with much of that cost being the development of a launch system for putting people in orbit. Once we are in orbit, everything is so much easier to do. We can already put cargo up there very easily, and it would be cheap if we started to mass-produce the rockets. What is so expensive are the manned launch systems.

There is no question that any lunar habitat is going to have to be underground, in order to be protected by soil from radiation. Blasting can open up trenches quickly, but excavation equipment will be needed to cover up habitat. Using solar power for heavy equipment is feasible for about 15 days a month, unless huge advances in power storage are made.

So, if every person on the planet put in $100, we could probably go back to the Moon to stay.

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Post Re: Billion dollar moon trip   Posted on: Sat Oct 24, 2015 1:57 am
Most of the people on this planet don't have a net worth greater than $100 USD much less any to give so that a few rich people can go have an adventure on another one.

A billion dollars IS still a lot of money. Aerospace costs so much because the Western "Government-Industrial-Complex" has massively inflated labor and materials costs from 70 years of feckless spending and blantant redistribution of wealth to defense and science corporations and universities. Yes it built the most advanced aerospace industry in the world, but it is also the most expensive. At this point it is prohibitively, even fatally, expensive, even if the industry and government still refuse to realize it and still spend like drunken sailors.

India and China specifically, but also the rest of the world (except maybe Japan which has the same problem the US has), all have orders of magnitude less costs. And they can do a Lunar or even Mars project for far far less than we, as we have seen.

Were I an international company, organization unconstrained by the chains of ITAR, I would pick someplace other than the usual players (US, EU, Japan, or even Russia), that has the capacity and desire to build an aerospace industry, but where costs have not (yet) gone to orbit.


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Post Re: Billion dollar moon trip   Posted on: Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:51 am
The costs of building a new refinery are measured in the billions of dollars, and replacing the Golden Gate Bridge is estimated to cost about 2.5 billion. High speed rail networks run into the billions of dollars, even in China, because there is so much engineering involved.

And our history of space exploration has always been focused on getting the highest possible performance out of our systems, so using liquid hydrogen as a rocket fuel has been common. Were we to scale back our expectations, and use slightly lower technology, like kerosene for fuel, costs would come down significantly.

Again, the most expensive part of space exploration has been putting humans into orbit. Sending up cargo is steadily getting cheaper per kilogram, and mass production of launch vehicles could reduce those costs even more. So getting the hardware we need into space is not all that difficult. But we run into a barrier when we start talking about manned launches, because suddenly everything has to be absolutely fail-safe.

When a launch vehicle lifts off the pad, every single process has got to happen correctly, or else everything comes apart in a hurry. This is no big deal if it is a satellite or a probe, but when people die it is a big deal. We have yet to develop a launch system which does not lift off vertically, and, until we do, I am convinced that space exploration is going to be slow, difficult, and expensive, all because of the dangers in launching vertically.

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Post Re: Billion dollar moon trip   Posted on: Sun Nov 01, 2015 1:38 pm
halman wrote:
The costs of building a new refinery are measured in the billions of dollars, and replacing the Golden Gate Bridge is estimated to cost about 2.5 billion. High speed rail networks run into the billions of dollars, even in China, because there is so much engineering involved.


All of those things have the same thing in common as space flight, government money and/or strict government oversight and regulation.

Quote:
And our history of space exploration has always been focused on getting the highest possible performance out of our systems, so using liquid hydrogen as a rocket fuel has been common. Were we to scale back our expectations, and use slightly lower technology, like kerosene for fuel, costs would come down significantly.


Er.... whut?


Quote:
Again, the most expensive part of space exploration has been putting humans into orbit. Sending up cargo is steadily getting cheaper per kilogram, and mass production of launch vehicles could reduce those costs even more. So getting the hardware we need into space is not all that difficult. But we run into a barrier when we start talking about manned launches, because suddenly everything has to be absolutely fail-safe.


That is because we have become highly risk-adverse as a society. Most of the costs for launching and operating in space is because of the low volume/one-off production, the expendable nature of most of the equipment, and the specialization and historical "price is no object" mentality of government funding.

Quote:
We have yet to develop a launch system which does not lift off vertically, and, until we do, I am convinced that space exploration is going to be slow, difficult, and expensive, all because of the dangers in launching vertically.


With our current technology, vertical launch of "rockets" is as cheap and straight forward as you can get. As SpaceX is proving, reuseablility isn't as simple as it seems.


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Post Re: Billion dollar moon trip   Posted on: Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:32 am
What we need to make manned space exploration feasible is a method of putting people into orbit and bringing them back that is relatively safe, fairly cheap, and very reliable. And we don't want to have to launch a bunch of times if we want to 10 people on orbit at once. Having the ability to land on a runway is also important, as it keeps recovery costs down.

So, we want a 'space bus', a vehicle designed specifically to carry passengers into space. Most of our experience in space has focused on getting the most weight possible into orbit, using the most extreme technology available. That is not how one builds a bus. We want to use fuel which can be stored at room temperature, which does not evaporate rapidly, and which has a proven track record. By using kerosene instead of liquid hydrogen, we avoid all of the problems inherent with handling a substance which must be kept at minus 252 degrees C.

So we overdesign, then give ourselves a safety margin. Instead of trying to reach 1000 kilometers, we only shoot for 350. We incorporate retractable wings, to lower the landing velocity. And we take off horizontally, so that if something goes wrong, we can abort safely.

The space shuttle proved conclusively that a lifting body can be used as a reusable re-entry vehicle, which lands on a runway. By keeping the payload down to what is needed to keep 10 or 15 people alive for 72 hours, and the people, we can design a vehicle small enough and light enough to be lifted to launch altitude by a carrier wing.

Trying to go back to the Moon for one billion dollars is a tourist gimmick, not a real effort of exploration. Such an effort is going to require people who are on the spot, or very close by, in order to learn what works and what does not. We can put tons of hardware on the Moon right now, if we want to. Putting somebody in orbit is beyond the capabilities of the United States right now, and may be for some time.

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Post Re: Billion dollar moon trip   Posted on: Fri Nov 20, 2015 3:06 am
Nits, take it as constructive feedback.

halman wrote:
What we need to make manned space exploration feasible is a method of putting people into orbit and bringing them back that is relatively safe, fairly cheap, and very reliable. And we don't want to have to launch a bunch of times if we want to 10 people on orbit at once.


If it is safer, cheaper, and more reliable than alternatives, launching people one at a time is perfectly acceptable.


Quote:
Having the ability to land on a runway is also important, as it keeps recovery costs down.


That has not been the experience thus far.

Quote:
Trying to go back to the Moon for one billion dollars is a tourist gimmick,
not a real effort of exploration.


The Moon has "been explored" already. It has been elevated to ready for commercial exploitation. "tourism" (for hire, not the scientific kind) is the lowest rung of "sending people somewhere for some reason". It only gets harder and more expensive from there ("You mean I have to go out there and do... experiments! That sounds like... work! But I'm a billionaire!!").



Quote:
We can put tons of hardware on the Moon right now, if we want to. Putting somebody in orbit is beyond the capabilities of the United States right now, and may be for some time.


The US if it wanted to (had the political motivation) could could launch manned spacecraft in short order (months). It has the resources. It has just been politically expedient (until recently) and short-term financially advantageous (cheaper) to buy rides. That has now changed and thus the US is developing 3 (or 4) separate man rated launch systems.


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