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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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20 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

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 

It will never reach any economies of scale. Launching more than 2X a year wasn't ever really on the table for SLS.

Construction of parts is not the critical issue for distributed launch. The issue is that it must be assembled in the VAB, and they are only building one MLP for 1B/2. So they could build a Block 1, I suppose, then also build a Block 1b/2, afterwards, and simply leave the first one on the MLP until launch time. Since they only have 1 pad, however, they need to launch, maintain the pad, then move the one MLP out of the way, and move the other out.

I put the chances of Musk walking on Mars himself as ridiculously low---but I put those chances far higher than SLS doing a distributed launch lunar mission (with more than one SLS launch).

Also, remember the context of my post you quoted. It was in reference to distributed EOR missions. This requires 2+ SLS to launch literally within some hours of each other because of boiloff constraints. In fact, EOR is pretty much not a thing for SLS at all, since each launch has an upper stage. They are pretty much stuck with LOR, even if they could ever launch 2 within a day or two of each other.

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10 minutes ago, tater said:

It will never reach any economies of scale. Launching more than 2X a year wasn't ever really on the table for SLS.

Construction of parts is not the critical issue for distributed launch. The issue is that it must be assembled in the VAB, and they are only building one MLP for 1B/2. So they could build a Block 1, I suppose, then also build a Block 1b/2, afterwards, and simply leave the first one on the MLP until launch time. Since they only have 1 pad, however, they need to launch, maintain the pad, then move the one MLP out of the way, and move the other out.

I put the chances of Musk walking on Mars himself as ridiculously low---but I put those chances far higher than SLS doing a distributed launch lunar mission (with more than one SLS launch).

Also, remember the context of my post you quoted. It was in reference to distributed EOR missions. This requires 2+ SLS to launch literally within some hours of each other because of boiloff constraints. In fact, EOR is pretty much not a thing for SLS at all, since each launch has an upper stage. They are pretty much stuck with LOR, even if they could ever launch 2 within a day or two of each other.

Perhaps. But again I only see SLS for crew launches. If it’s ever just cargo or unmanned spacecraft it’ll be launched on other vehicles.

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4 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Perhaps. But again I only see SLS for crew launches. If it’s ever just cargo or unmanned spacecraft it’ll be launched on other vehicles.

Then SLS should be cancelled, immediately, or at the very least kill any upgrade past block 1.

The only way SLS is ever useful is Block 2 (cargo), IMO.

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53 minutes ago, tater said:

Then SLS should be cancelled, immediately, or at the very least kill any upgrade past block 1.

The only way SLS is ever useful is Block 2 (cargo), IMO.

What you miss though is with the exception of NG and BFR, none of these future SHLVs are man rated. SLS is. 

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4 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

What you miss though is with the exception of NG and BFR, none of these future SHLVs are man rated. SLS is. 

If I recall tater doesn’t really like man-rating SHLVs anyways...

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

If I recall tater doesn’t really like man-rating SHLVs anyways...

Maybe, but I don't see why you'd board a transfer vehicle when something can throw the whole vehicle direct but that's just conflict of ideas I guess. So I won't debate that.

Edited by ZooNamedGames
I need to stop starting my comments with perhaps. Also, first time I've ever listed a reason for editing

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Maybe, but I don't see why you'd board a transfer vehicle when something can throw the whole vehicle direct but that's just conflict of ideas I guess. So I won't debate that.

It's a matter of logistics, and wasting a SHLV.

SLS gets to launch once a year for several years, then maybe (just maybe) they get to launch twice a year. Better to loft a BA2100, or even a LEO/Cislunar refillable tug/ferry.

Any suggested lunar architecture in this thread are already dominated by commercial vehicles. Every component is simply a FH launch.

At a cost of maybe 3 BILLION per launch, it doesn't seem worth it to just fly a few astronauts.

NASA used to show Orion attached to a Mars mission as the reentry capsule for the return to Earth. That means Orion can stay functional in space for years. As such, I'd launch the thing not around the moon, but to ISS. Park it there. Use SLS to launch useful parts of a lunar mission, then dock something to Orion, and send it to the Moon once the tug is ready. Crew can take CST-100 or Dragon to ISS, then switch to Orion.

You need something like 50 tonnes at LEO* (KSC inclination) to get the Orion CSM (26t) to EML-1 (I assume Gateway dv is similar). This seems possible with some sort of distributed launch system. (*I'm assuming the stage that pushes it to EML-1 is using an RL-10 here, so hydrolox, you need more like 70t if you use hypergolics).

So we have a capsule that is purpose built to hang around in space for up to 3 years before being tasked with Earth reentry, and we have the ability to send it to a distant lunar orbit from ISS with one FH launch worth of cryo upper stage. Alternately, FH could send a couple hypergolic stages massing more like 35-40 t using reusable FH launches (side boosters, anyway). All this to ISS. During this time, Orion is checked out in space. These launches, if the storable props, can literally be spread out over years if needed. These same vehicles are already set to be tasked with building Gateway (invented because building Gateway was a job for SLS/Orion, lol, now with no Orion required). They are also tasked with delivering 3 parts of a lander to Gateway. A few more commercial launches, and SLS is not needed. Gateway will require PPE and Hab/docking. Call it 2 launches? 3?

Gateway:

3  launches (Atlas V, DIVH, F9, FH---depending on payload mass)

Assume one Atlas 551 (120M?), 2 FH expended (300M)

Orion to ISS:

1 launch. (FH, full reuse, 90M$, or 1 DIVH 350M$)

ISS--->Gateway tug:

2 launches (FH) (180M)

Lander to Gateway:

3 launches (FH or maybe DIVH). (450M with FH, as much as 1.05 B$ with DIVH)

Total cost of launches is  1.14 Billion maximizing SpaceX launches to lower cost. If SLS sends Orion, that eliminates 3 FH launches, saving 270M$... except it then adds 3 B$ to the total cost of our Moon mission.

So Moon in 5 years WITH SLS participating is just shy of 4B$, without using SLS at all... a little over a billion.

EDIT: The lander parts could be sent cheaper with a small stage attached that uses ion propulsion, assuming it uses storable props, so the 1.14B$ might get cheaper, eliminating some FH expended launches. FH (reused) could put it in an elliptical orbit, then it kicks to lunar with ion.

 

Edited by tater

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Apparently doing this would take an additional 8 B$/year for 5 years.

Yeah, that's not a thing.

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blueorigin_bluemoon_ascent.jpg

The small, cargo version, lands itself, plus 3.6t cargo, and has ~4500 m/s dv loaded.

The version pictured above needs about 20t of props (30t total mass) to get the 6.6t ascent module to the surface. Seems like that with enough propellant to actually get it from GTO to Gateway, and then from Gateway to the surface. If the 6.6 tonne crew module is half propellant, it can actually make it back to Gateway by itself.

So, how do we get a 30.6t lander to Gateway?

Seems like distributed launch might do it.

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On 4/30/2019 at 9:45 AM, tater said:

Apparently doing this would take an additional 8 B$/year for 5 years.

Yeah, that's not a thing.

And apparently NASA wasn't able to get their mission plan and budget request to congress on time, which was... less than positive for funding prospects moving forward.

Just from the perspective of rockets=good, I'd hate to see the accelerated moon shot get nipped in the bud, but there's a lot of reasons it's understandable. Just have to wait and see which way the wind blows I suppose!

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Bezos is playing chess, Re: politics.

I honestly think that Blue Moon is a better thing for getting to the Moon sooner rather than later for the simple reason that he's on one side himself, but playing ball with the other (where his engine factory is, etc). Programs need momentum that carries them across administrations.

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I'd rather NASA make it's goal in 2027 than for it to be nipped in the bud entirely.

I'd also like to hear NASA's long term plans to keep them on the moon this time rather than calling it quits when the economy tanks (cough 80s recession)

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I think I'm a lot more optimistic about this than I was a few weeks ago.

We've now got:

  1. Potentially accelerated (but not too much) SLS schedule
  2. Companies showing off mockups of Gateway modules they are currently developing
  3. A descent stage revealed that has been in development for some time and can launch on what is projected to be a low-ish cost near future rocket

That leaves pretty much just the ascent stage as the last piece that needs to be worked on.

Now that's good for just flags and footprints, but as far as staying on the Moon a while... I think that Blue Moon opens up a lot of possibilities. A significant tonnage to the lunar surface while not being as technologically risky as Starship... I could see NASA getting on board with that.

It can also be used to get gateway modules to lunar orbit. Maybe not dock them, but with some modifications, maybe. If not, isn't the station supposed to have a robotic arm?

IIRC Some late Apollo proposals involved stripped down lunar modules landing science experiments, a MOLAB, or even a habitation module on the lunar surface. BM is slightly less capable than the descent stage (4500kg payload vs 4700kg LMAS) according to currently available figures, but those proposals all look appealing again.

Especially now that we don't have to launch multiple expensive SHLVs for one mission, those proposals would have had multiple Saturn V launches, these proposals, until recently, required multiple SLS launches. Now it's one SLS launch and multiple New Glenn launches, which should be much more manageable cost-wise.

Not that we should get too excited, Blue Origin has still yet to put something in orbit... But with Blue Moon, they have potentially put themselves in a really good position. If they play their cards right, this could be big, really big.

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Blue getting more ferociter would make me more sanguine about our chances of a non-SpaceX trip to the Moon.

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4 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I'd rather NASA make it's goal in 2027 than for it to be nipped in the bud entirely.

I'd also like to hear NASA's long term plans to keep them on the moon this time rather than calling it quits when the economy tanks (cough 80s recession)

Huh? The decision to curtail our presence on the Moon was made in 1968, and in the following few years when Apollos 20, 19, and 18 were cancelled or repurposed.

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11 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

Huh? The decision to curtail our presence on the Moon was made in 1968, and in the following few years when Apollos 20, 19, and 18 were cancelled or repurposed.

And we can make that decision again, should economic pressures back it. My question is what is guaranteeing we stay there this time?

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28 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

And we can make that decision again, should economic pressures back it. My question is what is guaranteeing we stay there this time?

Advanced technology helps, plus the presence of water ice, as confirmed by remote sensing 

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4 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

And we can make that decision again, should economic pressures back it. My question is what is guaranteeing we stay there this time?

Nothing.

The best thing that might keep us there will probably be commercial landers.

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Program has a name now, Artemis.

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17 hours ago, tater said:

Program has a name now, Artemis.

As pointed out on Ars Technica (so I can't take any credit for this although I find it amusing). From Wikipedia:

Orion was Artemis' hunting companion. In some versions, he is killed by Artemis, while in others he is killed by a scorpion sent by Gaia. In some versions, Orion tries to seduce Opis,[28] one of Artemis' followers, and she kills him. In a version by Aratus,[29] Orion takes hold of Artemis' robe and she kills him in self-defense. (Emphasis added)

 

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One can hope...

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On the other hand, Artemis was also the goddess of chastity so hopefully the program won't get...

Yeah, you know where I'm going with this. Or if you don't, be happy in your blissful ignorance. :) 

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10 minutes ago, KSK said:

From Wikipedia:

Yeah, I noticed that last night when I looked it up.

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