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)
3 hours ago, KSK said:

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

I want to say I once heard Frank Borman say that they figured Apollo 8 was about a 50/50 proposition. There were military guys, and did it as that sort of operation.

Edited by tater

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Uh, no. At the moment, I think SpaceX is going to beat NASA to the Moon (and probably Mars). They're significantly further on with their (universal I might add, it's capable of landings on both the Moon and Mars) Starship program. Meanwhile at NASA, the SLS hangs in the balance and they don't even have a lander design.

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Posted (edited)

[snip]

The next issue is economy. Today, economists are announcing a crisis greater than that of 2008, so I doubt that NASA will have enough budget for such a mission in 5 years.

Further issues, labor costs in NASA are so high that other agencies from other countries will easily perform several times cheaper each mission that NASA will come up with.

Another problem is technology. There is not even a prototype of the lander or did I miss something?

[snip]

Edited by Snark
Redacted by moderator

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Posted (edited)

[snip]

Chances are next to nothing this will occur in five years. Then another government will come, cancellation of the program will occur and another longterm damage to human spaceflight. Because of this, I bet smart folks at NASA are using the surplus budget to invest in things they will be able to use after the inevitable cancellation.

Edited by Snark
Redacted by moderator

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Some content has been redacted and/or removed.  Please try to avoid politics and ideological discussions, and to stay on topic.

A certain amount of politically-related discussion may be unavoidable-- this is a government program with a government budget, after all-- but please don't get into ideology, or discussions of political motivation, or commenting about the character of specific countries.

Also, please try to stay on-topic.  Specifically, this thread is about the odds of it happening-- i.e. can they and will they do it.  The topic is not "should it be done", is it a good idea (either for NASA or in general), etc.  That's a whole other discussion, and not what this thread is about, so please try to stay with the topic.

Thank you for your understanding.

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Posted (edited)

You can see I made a comment about how absurd this plan is on the Youtube video. 
The spacecraft are too expensive, the government doesn't fund it enough, etc.

EDIT:
Looks like NASA removed my Youtube comment. Wow.

Edited by Lo Var Lachland
Clarification edits

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9 hours ago, Lo Var Lachland said:

You can see I made a comment about how absurd this plan is on the Youtube video. 
The spacecraft are too expensive, the government doesn't fund it enough, etc.

EDIT:
Looks like NASA removed my Youtube comment. Wow.

It's possible it's been flagged as spam or is awaiting review before being public. Flat earthers on FE debate videos often claim "censorship" when in reality, the YouTube channel in particular never has anything to do with the removed comments. See more about that here. So it's possible you're just victim to that instead.

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43 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

It's possible it's been flagged as spam or is awaiting review before being public. Flat earthers on FE debate videos often claim "censorship" when in reality, the YouTube channel in particular never has anything to do with the removed comments. See more about that here. So it's possible you're just victim to that instead.

Yeah. 

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On 4/14/2019 at 6:39 AM, RealKerbal3x said:

don't even have a lander design.

In typical Kerbal fashion I read that as “ladder”

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On 4/14/2019 at 9:39 AM, RealKerbal3x said:

they don't even have a lander design.

frassinito-Altair-580x539.jpg

Altair

crewed-lunar-lander-concept-high-sun.jpg

LockMartin proposal for a reusable lander.

These are the only two I could find, but I wasn't trying very hard to find them. There's a high likelyhood other companies have lander designs fully fleshed out, and just stored in a corporate vault somewhere, unknown to the public.

"But Zoo, they haven't even started metalbending for a lander yet". The early test articles for the lunar module didn't even begin test flights until 1968 with LTA-2R aboard Apollo 6. TWO YEARS prior to the deadline of the end of the decade, a single year before they made their final landing on the moon. The Lunar Module, was a paper spacecraft until 1967 at the soonest. Like all modern lander designs, it sat in the concept and refinement phase for ages. So, going by the Apollo-era schedule (since I don't see any promises by NASA to develop any systems that would warrant any advanced development time for the lander itself), NASA would launch the first test article in 2023. Manned landing in 2024. "But Zoo, the SLS launch for that year will be booked by a manned flight to LOP-G", I never said that the lander needed to launch Saturn V style with a crew ontop. It's far more feasible, and likely, that the Falcon Heavy or Atlas V will launch the lander solo to LOP-G, where either a crew will be waiting for it to dock so they can board it and descend to the lunar surface, or the crew will arrive after the lander arrives. Hell it's feasible that NASA could skip LOP-G all together and do a true LOR and have Orion rendezvous and dock with the lander in lunar orbit, where the crew with transfer over and then undock from Orion and descend to the surface. Point being, there's no reason for both to be SLS launched.

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Posted (edited)

Those are proposals, not designs. So far none have been accepted.

Altair is different, but got cancelled. It was also designed for a different LV so...

Edited by Bill Phil

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3 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

Those are proposals, not designs.

So was the LM in 1961, 6 years before it even had it's first parts built.

4 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

So far none have been accepted.

The LM wasn't accepted until 1962. The process from calling out for a lander designs began in July of that year and ended two months later.

I can't imagine it would take NASA long to choose a lander in 2019. Especially since all the design details are vastly easier to look over, as opposed to tens of thousands of papers which have to be read.

6 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

Altair is different, but got cancelled.

So was Ares V. But here we are, roughly a year from SLS' first launch. Just a modernized version of Ares V. I don't see any reason why Altair couldn't get the same treatment and be modernized and updated. Which would be substantially easier to achieve using a working design, than to start from scratch. "But Zoo, that would lead to the same compromises and dead end designs that ruined SLS", perhaps. But unlike SLS, this 2020 Altair design doesn't need to keep flying. Eventually it can be replaced by a superior design.

9 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

It was also designed for a different LV so...

And why can't it be launched solo on SLS?

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1 minute ago, ZooNamedGames said:

And why can't it be launched solo on SLS?

Altair was about 46 tonnes.

SLS Block 1 can get 26t to TLI.

SLS Block 1b can get 37t to TLI.

SLS Block 2, might be able to get 46t to TLI.

Chicken and egg. No SLS Block 2, and the lander is not a thing on SLS. So you need both Block2, and you need Orion launched basically withing a few days (since Altair uses hydrolox, Orion has to be waiting for the lander).

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Upon doing some reading- 2010 Altair would exceed the launch capability of SLS when launched fully assembled. However after modernizations, and potentially launching it separately, the descent module could be launched by SLS-1B and the ascent module launched by another LV and assembled in orbit. That said, 2020 Altair could be lighter and fit to SLS.

1 minute ago, tater said:

Altair was about 46 tonnes.

SLS Block 1 can get 26t to TLI.

SLS Block 1b can get 37t to TLI.

SLS Block 2, might be able to get 46t to TLI.

Chicken and egg. No SLS Block 2, and the lander is not a thing on SLS. So you need both Block2, and you need Orion launched basically withing a few days (since Altair uses hydrolox, Orion has to be waiting for the lander).

See above.

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2 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Upon doing some reading- 2010 Altair would exceed the launch capability of SLS when launched fully assembled. However after modernizations, and potentially launching it separately, the descent module could be launched by SLS-1B and the ascent module launched by another LV and assembled in orbit. That said, 2020 Altair could be lighter and fit to SLS.

See above.

Hydrolox.

Boiloff.

Assembly in space is only an option with a refilling capability extant. The benefit of that propellant is fantastic Isp. The cost is flexibility. You are basically making an architecture where multiple spacecraft have to be assembled, and literally all of them need to launch within hours of each other. Scratch that for no other reason, even if you magically get multiple SLS launches in a years. Any scrub kills the mission. Any delay kills the mission.

The lander has to be hypergolic props, I see no other reasonable possibility given distributed launch. So ~320 seconds vs 460+. Ballpark for the same mass is that the hypergolic lander has 1500m/s less dv. Looks like the lander needs to be about 27 tonnes heavier in order to lose the hydrolox for hypergolics (assuming same dry mass). Very ballpark figures, and assuming the big Altair style lander. Note that a tiny lander like the LEM requires that the Command Module SM can do the work for LOI and TEI, which Orion can't, so any lander with Orion has to be huge.

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2 minutes ago, tater said:

Hydrolox.

Boiloff.

Assembly in space is only an option with a refilling capability extant. The benefit of that propellant is fantastic Isp. The cost is flexibility. You are basically making an architecture where multiple spacecraft have to be assembled, and literally all of them need to launch within hours of each other. Scratch that for no other reason, even if you magically get multiple SLS launches in a years. Any scrub kills the mission. Any delay kills the mission.

The lander has to be hypergolic props, I see no other reasonable possibility given distributed launch. So ~320 seconds vs 460+. Ballpark for the same mass is that the hypergolic lander has 1500m/s less dv. Looks like the lander needs to be about 27 tonnes heavier in order to lose the hydrolox for hypergolics (assuming same dry mass). Very ballpark figures, and assuming the big Altair style lander. Note that a tiny lander like the LEM requires that the Command Module SM can do the work for LOI and TEI, which Orion can't, so any lander with Orion has to be huge.

I would expect that the original hydrolox style would be dropped due to those reasons. I would still bank on NASA considering a 2020 Altair redesign though. Basically using all the changes you mentioned.

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Cant see them beat their deadline. It's all about budget and the number of changes to NASA's goals and budget in the last 15 years doesn't help to think they could do it.

I'd be thrilled if humankind just leave LEOin the next 5 years tbh :)  Cant imagine how I would feel if humans actually land on the moon...

And just a thought, I know China has its eyes on the moon for quite a while,  although they are probably some 15 years away of landing a manned craft on the moon.

It would be amazing to see China and the USA working on that goal together. But I doubt China is the partner NASA is looking for, they most probably thinking of spaceX, Boeing (and other US companies) and ESA. And China probably wants it alone.

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Brigstene will push this like a command from Kennedy, because he sees this as a chance to de-rust and de-cobweb NASA and NASA's supply chain. But the political and military-industrial grime will not slough off easily- I'll give it even odds to succed, and only if he's willing and able to use SpaceX and Blue to replace wholesale his existing architecture.

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3 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I would expect that the original hydrolox style would be dropped due to those reasons. I would still bank on NASA considering a 2020 Altair redesign though. Basically using all the changes you mentioned.

So on the one had you're saying they'r using an existing design, but on the other hand, they are completely redesigning it? The difference in props is pretty much everything. It determines the mass, the size, everything. Any SLS-based lander needs about 5000 m/s dv. 2000 each of descent/ascent, and 1000 for LOI.

For Altair, that makes the dry mass of the beast about 15t (!).

The only LV that can really do this commercial launch of real payload for this plan right now is FH, which can probably put something like 17-18t to TLI, with fully expended Bock 5. That sounds like you can do it in 3 launches, except that each payload needs to also do the LOI burn. Unsure what that is for the Gateway orbit, assuming they do that. Regardless, each subsection needs to be able to maneuver itself. So if you send a tug, it needs extra props to meet and dock with Gateway, AND be able to take the lander to LLO and back ) wanna say that's like 8-900 m/s). The ascent module is maneuver capable anyway, but it then needs to have the ascent propellants, AND it needs extra props to meet Gateway. The descent module either needs to be designed to fly minus the ascent module, then also have extra props, or it needs to have a transfer module attached that can provide rendezvous/docking with Gateway.

 

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3 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

So was the LM in 1961, 6 years before it even had it's first parts built.

The LM wasn't accepted until 1962. The process from calling out for a lander designs began in July of that year and ended two months later.

I can't imagine it would take NASA long to choose a lander in 2019. Especially since all the design details are vastly easier to look over, as opposed to tens of thousands of papers which have to be read.

So was Ares V. But here we are, roughly a year from SLS' first launch. Just a modernized version of Ares V. I don't see any reason why Altair couldn't get the same treatment and be modernized and updated. Which would be substantially easier to achieve using a working design, than to start from scratch. "But Zoo, that would lead to the same compromises and dead end designs that ruined SLS", perhaps. But unlike SLS, this 2020 Altair design doesn't need to keep flying. Eventually it can be replaced by a superior design.

And why can't it be launched solo on SLS?

So the LM took about 5 years to really hammer out the design?

We have about that much time to develop a new lander, test it, and land it. All with a vastly smaller budget, vastly less capable vehicle, and vastly more energy expensive trajectory.

Not likely.

I can say that I have project management experience from proposal to project finish. Delays happen. They just do. And with a hard limit like 5 years and a rocket that’s sub-par... it’s really not looking all that doable. 

Can NASA do it? Probably. But they’d really need a completely different architecture like an electrically delivered lander with an SLS launched crew and both rendezvousing in lunar orbit or at EML-2. Even then they’d need to start developing the lander within this year as well as all the other necessary hardware.

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22 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

We have about that much time to develop a new lander, test it, and land it. All with a vastly smaller budget, vastly less capable vehicle, and vastly more energy expensive trajectory.

True, but we also know more about landing on other worlds, construction technology, and stuff in general. Not saying it will be easier or harder than the LM, just pointing out a few things.

I think it's too early to tell whether it will happen or not. I do think they will try for the goal, though. Bridenstine seems to be pushing this pretty hard, and I haven't seen this kind of push in my entire lifetime. It may be just words at this point, but they aren't empty words. They are examining several approaches and beginning to plan.

Again, it's too early to tell. I do think that Bridenstine has a better chance of accomplishing this than any of the recent administrators would.

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All I can hope is he knows more than I do. Besides a push to get something rolling can't hurt. Hell it's better than the admin announcing that NASA is sitting back and taking it easy for another 20 years.

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Compared to the Lunar Gateway, this is something that a) actually get popular support b) does not require russian cooperation c) accomplishes scientific goals

While many plans for the Lunar Gateway had no human landings, the ones that did required long term fuel storage, which a direct moon mission would not require.  An SLS could probably launch a direct moon landing, or do a 2 launch EOR, so less launches than building the Gateway.  So, this is actually plausible, though it would be far cheaper to buy some seats on Starship.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, DAL59 said:

Compared to the Lunar Gateway, this is something that a) actually get popular support b) does not require russian cooperation c) accomplishes scientific goals

While many plans for the Lunar Gateway had no human landings, the ones that did required long term fuel storage, which a direct moon mission would not require. 

This still uses Gateway. They're talking about a 3-stage lander, brought up in pieces. Ascent stage, descent stage, and a tug to drag the lander to LLO, and the ascent stage back to Gateway.

Quote

An SLS could probably launch a direct moon landing, or do a 2 launch EOR, so less launches than building the Gateway.  So, this is actually plausible, though it would be far cheaper to buy some seats on Starship.

An SLS, even Block 2, cannot possibly launch a direct Moon landing.

2+ launches, EOR is not an option for SLS if two of the launches are SLS. One, they won't even be in the ballpark of 2/year for ages (if ever), and two, they will never be concurrent launches, as the vehicles have to be stacked in the VAB, one at a time. Not a thing, not ever.

Edited by tater

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1 hour ago, tater said:

This still uses Gateway. They're talking about a 3-stage lander, brought up in pieces. Ascent stage, descent stage, and a tug to drag the lander to LLO, and the ascent stage back to Gateway.

An SLS, even Block 2, cannot possibly launch a direct Moon landing.

2+ launches, EOR is not an option for SLS if two of the launches are SLS. One, they won't even be in the ballpark of 2/year for ages (if ever), and two, they will never be concurrent launches, as the vehicles have to be stacked in the VAB, one at a time. Not a thing, not ever.

Well keep in mind assembly times will accelerate for SLS. So construction times will reduce over time. I don’t think it’ll reach peak of economy of scale before competition makes it obsolete but it will speed up beyond what it is right now 

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