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Can We Do Better Than NASA's Constellation Program

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posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 08:25 PM
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When I saw NASA's Constellation program with two booster rockets, a souped up Apollo Command Module and another lunar lander I thought to myself 'Is that the best they could come up with after almost 40 years?'

I'd like us ATSers to try to do better. Let me suggest an approach to get things started.

The Ares V booster will be able to throw 94 tons into low earth orbit. The 3rd stage will be able to push 35.5 tons on it's way to the moon. So how about this?

One Ares V launch will put 94 tons into orbit consisting of;
a) a large landing module containing lots of cargo for a moon base, a small lunar ascent module for the astronauts to get back into lunar orbit AND b) a small aerodynamic vehicle to bring the astronauts down from Earth orbit to the ground. Perhaps it could be the same vehicle as the space station will use for emergency return to Earth.

A second Ares V launch will put another 94 tons into LEO consisting of a reusable vehicle that will boost the lunar module out of earth orbit and into lunar orbit. It will contain crew facilities for the journey to the moon and back. This single vehicle will dock with the lunar module, leaving the re-entry vehicle in earth orbit and take the 2 ship combination to lunar orbit. Once in lunar orbit the crew enter the lunar module, descend to the surface, do whatever they came to do and then return to the orbiting vehicle in the small lunar ascent module, leaving the bulk of the lunar module behind. When the orbiting vehicle returns to earth orbit, it rendezvouses with the re-entry vehicle, the crew transfer to the re-entry vehicle and descend to the ground. The trans lunar module still in orbit would be refueled from another Area V launch for the next mission. This means 2 Ares V launches per lunar mission versus one Ares V and one Ares 1 launch for NASA's plan but my proposal would put a lot more tonnage on the lunar surface per mission and the reusable vehicle that takes the place of the command module and 3rd stage booster would be cheaper in the long run.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.




posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 08:54 PM
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Originally posted by Studenofhistory
When I saw NASA's Constellation program with two booster rockets, a souped up Apollo Command Module and another lunar lander I thought to myself 'Is that the best they could come up with after almost 40 years?'

I'd like us ATSers to try to do better. Let me suggest an approach to get things started.

The Ares V booster will be able to throw 94 tons into low earth orbit. The 3rd stage will be able to push 35.5 tons on it's way to the moon. So how about this?

One Ares V launch will put 94 tons into orbit consisting of;
a) a large landing module containing lots of cargo for a moon base, a small lunar ascent module for the astronauts to get back into lunar orbit AND b) a small aerodynamic vehicle to bring the astronauts down from Earth orbit to the ground. Perhaps it could be the same vehicle as the space station will use for emergency return to Earth.

A second Ares V launch will put another 94 tons into LEO consisting of a reusable vehicle that will boost the lunar module out of earth orbit and into lunar orbit. It will contain crew facilities for the journey to the moon and back. This single vehicle will dock with the lunar module, leaving the re-entry vehicle in earth orbit and take the 2 ship combination to lunar orbit. Once in lunar orbit the crew enter the lunar module, descend to the surface, do whatever they came to do and then return to the orbiting vehicle in the small lunar ascent module, leaving the bulk of the lunar module behind. When the orbiting vehicle returns to earth orbit, it rendezvouses with the re-entry vehicle, the crew transfer to the re-entry vehicle and descend to the ground. The trans lunar module still in orbit would be refueled from another Area V launch for the next mission. This means 2 Ares V launches per lunar mission versus one Ares V and one Ares 1 launch for NASA's plan but my proposal would put a lot more tonnage on the lunar surface per mission and the reusable vehicle that takes the place of the command module and 3rd stage booster would be cheaper in the long run.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.



Couldn't say it any better than that, you have just said what many have thought. Why don't they put together a bigger vehicle in orbit and take that to the moon with more supplies and more advance equipment. I truly believe NASA is playing space exploration and the real space exploration is already being done covertly.



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 10:33 PM
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reply to post by Studenofhistory
 

NASA wants to abide by the Columbia Accident Report's recommendation that humans and cargo should not be launched in the same vehicle. This is for safety purposes. There is much more that can go wrong with a powerful heavy-lift vehicle (such as the Ares V), so the logic is that it is not safe for humans to launch with it. That's why there is a smaller and less powerful Ares I whose sole purpose is to launch a crew capsule, and there is a larger and more powerful Ares V whose sole purpose is to launch cargo. The Ares V is not intended to be "crew certified" -- which, as I said, is in accordance with the Columbia Accident Review report.

This is the main reason there are two separate launch vehicles.

The Augustine commission admits that this is a shortcoming with their "Ares V Lite" idea of launching crews and cargo together in multiple scaled-down versions of the Ares V (hence the term "Lite"). Their plan would violate the Columbia report's recommendation and launch humans and cargo together in a single heavy-lift vehicle, which is inherently more dangerous.

NASA's planned full-sized Ares V can be used to launch a human-certified spacecraft into orbit (or pieces of in multiple launches one to be later assembled in orbit), BUT the human crew wouldn't man the craft until after the craft is sent into Earth orbit. The crew would get there via the Ares I and Orion capsule.

In fact, that is NASA's very preliminary plans for a manned Mars vehicle -- launch pieces of the ship with multiple Ares V launches, assemble the pieces in orbit into a single large ship, then launch the astronauts separately in an Ares I (or multiple Ares Is), which will dock in orbit to transfer the crew before the trip to Mars.

When the Mars ship returns home (in about 2 years), other Ares I will launch Orion capsules into orbit to bring the astronauts back to the ground.

The Augustine report admits that NASA's Constellation program plan for the Moon and Mars is "better" than their "Ares Lite" idea, but NASA's plan is not affordable in this era of very tight government budgets.

[edit on 10/29/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]



posted on Oct, 30 2009 @ 08:35 AM
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Originally posted by Studenofhistory
When the orbiting vehicle returns to earth orbit, it rendezvouses with the re-entry vehicle, the crew transfer to the re-entry vehicle and descend to the ground.

Therein lies a huge problem; if you're not going to do a direct re-entry from the moon apollo style by providing a trans-lunar re-entry capable capsule like apollo, then you're going to have to bring a massive amount of extra fuel in order to slow the spacecraft down to low earth orbit speed for docking to a re-entry capable vehicle. In fact, you need to go from 25,000mph to 17,000mph; that's the same change in speed that got you from earth orbit to the moon, so you'll need twice as much fuel as a mission with a direct re-entry profile (yes your vehicle should be lighter at the end of your mission plan, but you're going to need extra fuel just to bring this extra fuel itself with you to the moon).



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