Cunjo Carl

What are NASA's odds for landing on the Moon in 5 years?

What are NASA's odds for landing on the Moon in 5 years?  

89 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Your oppinion on NASA's odds for landing astronauts on the lunar south pole in 5 years

    • 0 - 10% (Very Poor)
      43
    • 10-33% (Worse than 2:1 against)
      25
    • 33-66% (About 50-50)
      17
    • 66-90% (Better than 2:1 for)
      4
    • 90-100% (Very Good)
      0

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  • Poll closed on 07/14/2019 at 09:18 AM

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Posted (edited)

 


NASA announced they'll be landing astronauts on the lunar south pole within 5 years! It's an exciting but very difficult goal.

I'm sure opinions will range right across the board, but what are your thoughts on NASA's chances for success right here from the starting line? Despite all the unknowns, I've been curious what the general gut feeling is on the forum.

In any case best of luck to NASA moving forward! There's a lot of ground to cover and they've been showing us a lot more of the behind-the-scenes action, so it should be great fun to watch over the coming years.

 

Edited by Cunjo Carl

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Well...

I don’t think they’ll make it. Their budget for manned programs is in the range of 8 billion per year and SLS Block 1b is close to cancellation...

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Spoiler
Quote

NASA announced they'll be landing astronauts on the lunar south pole

NASA still believes that the Moon is impaled on an axis.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQUNYF-DYTw6VQQTVgTx47

They are going to make selfies at the pole sticking out from ground, and do a pole dance around it.

 

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I hold onto a sliver of hope here. NASA seems to really be working hard and fast for a landing. From the broad agency announcement April 8:
 

Quote

 

NASA intends to release a solicitation under the second Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to seek proposals from industry in support of design analysis, technology maturation, system development and integration, and space flight demonstrations for the Ascent Element of the Human Landing System (HLS), an integrated lunar transportation system.  The Ascent Element will provide a safe environment as humans are transported to the lunar surface.  The Ascent Element also provides powered ascent for the crew to return them safely from the lunar surface.  The primary objective of this Appendix to the NextSTEP-2 BAA is to enable rapid development and flight demonstrations of human lunar landers.
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=820daf05b614ff8021aed77315eeee38

 

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Posted (edited)

It's feasible. NASA's jumped through more hoops before, only this time they don't have to engineer brand new technologies and equipment based on theoretical experience. The US is the only nation on Earth that can use it's prior experience to make it happen. Also NASA doesn't play to do it alone. I see nothing stating that NASA plans on doing it solo so I could expect NASA to work hand-in-hand along side ULA, Blue Origin and SpaceX to get payloads to the moon to accelerate their lunar architecture. Besides, an intensive schedule over a shorter timeframe, with a concrete date (rather than a timeline) draws us to achievement. This isn't Apollo. We don't need to do an Apollo 8 flyby first, nor an Apollo 7 orbital test flight. We can do a quick test of the lunar lander at LOP-G, return it, have the crew board soon after and land and return using Orion. Many of the steps and delays that plagued the Kennedy goal to the moon were related with trial and error just to get there for the first time.

Apollo 4, the first flight (that I'm considering, not earlier SA/AS flights) took flight in 1967. Apollo 11 landed in 1969. 2 years later. So this kind of jump is easily feasible. "But Zoo, SLS is only slated to launch once a year at most", as of current reports. This new goal may cause a shift. I can't claim to know what's happening internally with this new proposal, and for all we know after SLS' maiden 2020 flight, NASA may shift funding to make multiple launches feasible. But, even if NASA can't, this again isn't NASA alone. NASA can and will utilize their commercial (and international partners as they already stated in their press release) partners to make this goal. I'm certain to help with this goal, SpaceX will be called upon for cargo launches, and for more vital and essential elements NASA will employ ULA to launch them using the ever proven Atlas V, and may even call upon the Atlas V should the payload exceed the FH's payload fairing size.

With NASA's planned missions, they probably don't need a crewed SLS launch every year, and using the Falcon Heavy/Atlas V for any cargo, they could get away with 5 missions by the end of 2025. Apollo had 6 missions between Apollo 4's first all up test and the penultimate moment that was Apollo 11. Assuming we don't do a repeat unmanned mission, we can skip Apollo 6, and if we skip any LEO test flights (and if we do any LEO test flights, they could be done using the Falcon 9 or Atlas V instead), which would skip Apollos 7, and 9. Leaving only Apollos 8, 10, and the end goal, 11. So to match SLS' launches with these remaining missions. We have EM-1, or Apollo 4 in 2020, EM-2 which is comparable to Apollo 8 (while also filling the manned testing portion of Apollo 7) in 2021, followed by hardware testing in lunar orbit, ala Apollo 10, in 2022. Leaving 3 years to deliver crew to the (likely commercial launched) LOP-G.

So it's crazy. Maddeningly crazy. Likely just a PR stunt and not actually going to happen. But, assuming Bridenstine is smarter than he looks, he might know more than I do and may know that it's actually feasible. So I put my vote at roughly 33%. It's feasible. Definitely a possibility, so I can't say it can't happen. But will happen? Especially by their timeline? That's where the % falls off for me. But I'd rather be optimistic. After all I've missed a lot in my life already in regards to spaceflight history, so I don't want to say "it won't go anywhere" and miss out. So I'm certainly going to keep watching (as I already am) and we'll see.

Just one man's mad thoughts.

Edited by ZooNamedGames

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I‘m afraid that they‘ll do it in time but the accelerated schedule leads to an Apollo clone with short surface stays, for two people. Then we have like two or three landings an are back to square one. 

I would actually have preferred the slower approach with the first landing at the end of the 20s.

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10 hours ago, Canopus said:

I‘m afraid that they‘ll do it in time but the accelerated schedule leads to an Apollo clone with short surface stays, for two people. Then we have like two or three landings an are back to square one. 

I would actually have preferred the slower approach with the first landing at the end of the 20s.

I actually totally see this happening.

However, thankfully, this isn't the 60s. NASA isn't alone, and they can't escape to LEO like they did the 70s after these moon missions. The missions can only get longer. Even if NASA doesn't extend the missions, SpaceX and any other corporations willing to sink RnD can take it up after NASA abandons the moon. If they do end up quitting early, they'll be working on Mars missions.

That's just my thoughts.

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It all comes down to funding. At their current levels? Not happening. If Congress pitches in the extra dosh NASA asks for when they send in their modified 2020 budget request? Difficult, but possible.

They gotta move fast though. Assuming they get the money, they really only have the remaining 7 months or so of this year to finalize design work before they need to start bending metal. The good news is that they've got a head-start - a lot of the Constellation design stuff can be reused here. But they can't treat it as business as usual. They're going to need to be lean, efficient, and quick about this.

Basically, I think it's possible. But I wouldn't bet on 5 years. Even with the right funding and motivation, it might take longer than that. Still, I'm cautiously optimistic about this. I think a goal like this is exactly what NASA needs to get its excrements together. I suppose we'll see.

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Posted (edited)

Where is the lunar lander?  I think its going to take a lot longer than 5 years to develop a lunar lander, and as far as I know one hasn't even been selected.  They would have to do it faster than Apollo, and current NASA/Contractors have not been able to meet much slower deadlines.

I watched the video, and this whole thing looks extremely fishy, the lander isn't even mentioned when it is probably the hardest part of the whole mission, so it looks just looks like political messing around.  They haven't even seriously designed the lander, and expect to land in a short period of time.  The only organization developing a manned moon lander right now is SpaceX, and their project would have to go very well for 5 year landing to happen.  Blue Origin might be able to, but they are very slow, like NASA/Boeing, and don't have any experience with orbit, life support, or any of the myriad of other things required to make a manned lunar lander.

Edited by ment18

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5 years?  That's plenty of time for changes at the that which shall not be discussed level.  If a future that which shall not be discussed entity decides that the policies of the previous that which shall not be discussed entity, it could all come crashing down. Any number of events in the realm of that which shall not be discussed could happen to delay/cancel the current plan, and the people involved in that which shall not be discussed are known to engage in "whatever the other that which shall not be discussed group proposed is evil" line of thinking.

 

Technologically?  Easily doable.

Funding?  Possible.

That which shall not be discussed motivation?  Changeable as a stalk of grass in the wind.

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Obligatory:

Spoiler

 

That said, I do think the chances are better than 1 in 1,000,000. If funding materializes and there aren't any major snags with the hardware, then it is certainly possible. 

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Very poor. I won't say it's 0, maybe someone makes a moon rocket and they buy seats (would that count, or does it have to be a NASA program?).

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2 hours ago, MaverickSawyer said:

Exactly ZERO chance of them making that timeframe.

Have you even looked at NASA history before?

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24 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Have you even looked at NASA history before?

Have you? Ignore the Apollo era, that's not a thing, and hasn't been for almost 50 years.

I think the chances of this happening where NASA is leading the effort (vs NASA buying seats) is effectively zero. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I will be mightily surprised.

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3 hours ago, MaverickSawyer said:

Exactly ZERO chance of them making that timeframe.

I'd have to insist on a non-zero chance of buying a couple seats on Starship and/or New Glen (obviously New Armstrong would be the right one, but I can't see them getting New Armstrong in 5 years without a peep of New Glen's progress).

 

6 minutes ago, tater said:

Have you? Ignore the Apollo era, that's not a thing, and hasn't been for almost 50 years.

I think the chances of this happening where NASA is leading the effort (vs NASA buying seats) is effectively zero. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I will be mightily surprised.

Give NASA an Apollo-era budget (without the traditional meddling from Congress) and NASA can get the job done (although I've said before that they might have to limit themselves to Apollo-era [hopefully post Apollo 1] safety as well).  I see zero chance of Washington DC (House + Senate + Trump + whatever president is elected in 2020) all agreeing on the necessary level of funding.

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23 hours ago, Cunjo Carl said:

 

 

At 1:07 in the video - does anyone else think they just used KSP to create this video? Look at that lander.... it's ReStock+ all the way!

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3 hours ago, tater said:

Very poor. I won't say it's 0, maybe someone makes a moon rocket and they buy seats (would that count, or does it have to be a NASA program?).

NASA's been very clear that they want as much of this commercial as possible, so I'd say that would count! Along these lines, they're also hoping for significant contributions from other space agencies which count towards this same effort.

 

Thank you everyone for your responses by the way. Given the shear number of unknowns and radical changes involved we're destined to have differing gut instincts on this, so please bear that in mind!

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16 minutes ago, Cunjo Carl said:

significant contributions from other space agencies

Yeah, that's not a thing, either. NASA crew budgets (SLS/Orion/ISS/Cargo/Crew) Is more that ESA spends, period. Anyone not contributing billions a year doesn't count, sadly.

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2 hours ago, tater said:

Have you? Ignore the Apollo era, that's not a thing, and hasn't been for almost 50 years.

I think the chances of this happening where NASA is leading the effort (vs NASA buying seats) is effectively zero. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I will be mightily surprised.

They've got built hardware and flight ready hardware. SLS may seem like 5 years away but it really isn't anymore. SLS is finally here. It's just a hair more than a year away from finally taking flight and once it does, SLS has no excuse no to accelerate development (ignoring growth as an economy of scale and the lack of hesitation for EM-2).

2 hours ago, wumpus said:

Give NASA an Apollo-era budget (without the traditional meddling from Congress) and NASA can get the job done (although I've said before that they might have to limit themselves to Apollo-era [hopefully post Apollo 1] safety as well).  I see zero chance of Washington DC (House + Senate + Trump + whatever president is elected in 2020) all agreeing on the necessary level of funding.

A factor that no one has considered yet, is SLS readiness and relation to the next presidential term. Which, is the biggest effect on the space program. Neither side wants to commit out of fear of spending their party's time and energy to make something that will only be ready once the other party takes office. However, SLS' readiness proves that they can achieve these goals within one terms duration. Allowing that same political party to reap the benefits of funding it. So it makes sense why politicians are so keen to fund it now.

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1 hour ago, tater said:

Yeah, that's not a thing, either. NASA crew budgets (SLS/Orion/ISS/Cargo/Crew) Is more that ESA spends, period. Anyone not contributing billions a year doesn't count, sadly.

They can still contribute. Alleviating the development and costs that NASA needs to bare. What international partners cannot provide, corporate can.

I'm almost entirely certain, Musk would love to help, and isn't sitting in his fancy SpaceX headquarters saying "Yeah, I know NASA shares the same ambition I have about getting back to the moon and leaving LEO, but I'm going to ditch them and do this solo". Musk is likely going to throw as much money and RnD into SS/BFR as he can to make this happen. What does it say about SpaceX if a formal rally of all aerospace entities, international and corporate, and SpaceX ignores it or cannot achieve it? To me, it says a lot.

As it stands, Musk's #dearmoon mission is planned for 2023. 2 years before the closure of NASA's timeline. If we can send crew around the moon and have that same vehicle power land back on Earth, perhaps #dearmoon can take a detour, and deorbit, land and reorbit, then refuel for a trip back to the Earth. It'd skip the entirety of LOP-G, but it'd keep to the timeline. However I don't think NASA will support abandoning SLS in it's entirety and as a result, will likely continue to utilize SLS and Orion, however I see no reason why they wouldn't use Cargo SS to assist. 

Either way, NASA alone? Nah. With Elon Musk and his containable imagination and ambition which will throw billions into an idea to make happen? That's where I see things going differently.

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2 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

They've got built hardware and flight ready hardware. SLS may seem like 5 years away but it really isn't anymore. SLS is finally here. It's just a hair more than a year away from finally taking flight and once it does, SLS has no excuse no to accelerate development (ignoring growth as an economy of scale and the lack of hesitation for EM-2).

SLS is a few years from flying a person, and none of the other hardware exists. The "usual suspects" in terms of contracts won't do squat without a huge contract, which is money that doesn't exist, and won't exist.

2 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

They can still contribute. Alleviating the development and costs that NASA needs to bare. What international partners cannot provide, corporate can.

Nobody else can get anything meaningful to lunar orbit. No one else has the budget to quickly develop anything else.

This thread is about the next 5 years.

Musk and Bezos? That's a different story.

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By they own, no not unless they get lot of funding. 
Now with starship it might be possible if that program goes smoothly. 

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I think it’s very unlikely, even drawing on the private sector, given the current NASA appetite for risk. As demonstrated by Commercial Crew.

Before anybody gets upset, I’m not saying that NASA’s approach to managing Commercial Crew was wrong (I simply don’t know enough about the details to make any kind of judgement) but that level of perceived need for detailed micromanagement is not going to get boots on the Moon in five years.

Apollo was at least as much (probably more) of an organisational and project management tour-de-force as a technological triumph. The NASA that made Apollo happen is not today’s NASA, which now comes with several decades worth of preconceptions, bureaucracy  and organisational cruft.

Streamlining all of that is going to be enough of a challenge, let alone the technical hurdles. Not impossible but unlikely.

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