posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 11:35 AM
reply to post by Frosty
You're partially right. Improved rocket technology would definitely help get the costs down but so would reusability. I nearly choked when I saw the
new architecture that NASA is building, where only the Command module is reusable! It's such a tiny fraction of the total cost of all those
throw-away rockets, throw-away landers, etc. How many people would have been able to afford a transatlantic voyage by sailing ship in the old days if
each ship was discarded after one trip? The Apollo system was used because NASA was in a hurry to meet Kennedy's deadline and they weren't thinking
in terms of hundreds of trips to the moon over decades. But a more intelligent long term approach would have been to design a single vehicle that
could a) reach earth orbit, b) accelerate to escape velocity to reach lunar orbit, c) descend from lunar orbit, d) leave the moon and enter a parking
orbit around the earth again. It could have then been refuelled by supply rocket, which would also be able to return the astronauts and cargo back to
the ground via a reentry vehicle. If you consider the entire weight of equipment, that the Saturn rocket was able to throw into orbit, all of that
mass which included the Command module, the LEM AND the third stage, could have been reconfigured as a reusable Earth/Moon shuttle. Fuel, which makes
up most of the mass, could have been sent up seperately via another Saturn 5 (I'm talking here about how HASA COULD have done it). AFter the first
launch of the Earth/Moon shuttle, then you only need one more Saturn launch to refuel it for each additional trip back to the moon. The benefit is
that you only have to pay for the Earth/Moon shuttle equipment once.
Why NASA didn't use that approach now is beyond me.