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Orbiting gas station could refuel lunar missions

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posted on Aug, 3 2009 @ 01:17 AM
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The panel convened by order of the White House to assess NASA's plans for the future of human space flight - including the project to send people back to the moon by 2020 - is pondering a radical idea to set up orbiting depots at which relatively small, inexpensive rockets could stop off to pick up fuel. The potential benefits of such a scheme are detailed in a white paper submitted last week by Jonathan Goff, an engineer with Masten Space Systems in Santa Clara, California.

This would allow NASA to mount moon missions without spending billions of dollars developing the gigantic Ares V rocket. Existing, less powerful rockets such as Boeing's Delta IV or Lockheed Martin's Atlas V would suffice, he says.
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This is pretty cool. It would save billions on space travel, and make it a much simpler process. A lot of people complain about the space program being a waste of tax dollars, but I disagree. Technology used to fly us to the stars often has terrestrial uses, and we will one day be forced to colonize other planets (assuming humans exist to see the Sun expand and swallow Earth). I'm glad to see they're still putting forth the effort in this area, it's amazing to read about all the new gadgets and techniques that come out of the space program.


TA




posted on Aug, 3 2009 @ 01:37 AM
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Within NASA, some engineers have argued for investing in space-based demonstrations of technologies needed for fuel depots. These include sunshades that would keep stores of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen rocket fuel cool enough not to boil away.

Others point to downsides of the plan. Rocket malfunctions are not uncommon, and the more launches are needed for each moon mission, the more likely it is that something will go wrong, a former senior NASA official told New Scientist.
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So what do you think? I was hoping some of the more scientifically inclined would share some thoughts and opinions on this. Is it feasible? Could the technology involved be of use on Earth as well as in space?


TA

[edit on 3-8-2009 by TheAssociate]



posted on Aug, 3 2009 @ 05:53 AM
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using a ion engine powered by as much solar arrays as the ISS could propel the orion capsule and lander to the moon with less fuel.. it only needs a small amount of xenon gas.
that amount of xenon gas can be taken every time they launch a orion and lander ( and if they make a reusable lander they also need to bring fuel for that.) .
the capsule lands leaving the ion drive hopefully the VASIMR engine in space for reuse .
in that way they don't need a orbital refuel station .. and for the return trip there is fuel on the moon.



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