Let me preface this with saying that this has nothing to do with lunar mission one. In fact what I am proposing is an un-manned recon mission. Let me
start from the beginning.
I was one of those kids who dreamt of space, following every major development of my lifetime. Reading the science fiction that so often comes to
fruition I always believed I would make it one day. Alas it seems this is not to be, at least there's a chance for my kids. But I digress. The
question that still bothers me the most is why we havent returned to the moon? There's the usual lines of 'we cant learn anything more' or 'the
cost out weighs the benefits' but I never bought that. If your on ats then I assume that you've seen at least one 'something on the moon' threads
or videos. Well perhaps thats why.
There have been many new moon images over the past few years, the lunar reconnaissance orbiter, the Chinese probe whose rover only made it fifty feet
from the lander if i remember. But what I want are images not owned and possibly photoshoped by any government or private orginazation.
I believe we could crowd sorce this relativly cheap. Buy payload space on a space x rocket. Release a multitude of small, cheap visual drones on a one
way suicide mission into the lunar surface. The most difficult part I can think of is the telemetry/control of the probes. The technical aspects of
communication is beyond me but i could probably handle some of the math for course plotting.
Again this is just throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. There are some brilliant people here so what do you all think, just a dumb idea
from a arm chair scientist or a possibly doable and worthwhile? Let me know what you think and your ideas.
Its a good point in theory but once a outpost is established it changes. The main cost of space flight is in getting the weight of the rocket and
payload out of the atmosphere. The costs would even out quickly once established.
But what do you think of the main premise of the OP
edit on 12-5-2016 by coven83 because: (no reason given)
a reply to: coven83
If you release drones without going into a lunar orbit, you'll only get to see a tiny portion of the moon in high-rez. If you can achieve a lunar
orbit, why not just use a camera with a small telescope, like LRO does? Then you could cover the lunar surface systematically, going over many
so-called "anomaly" sites and even attempting to photograph the Apollo landing sites.
Another question is - who will be receiving the data, processing it, and releasing it to the public? It will have to be done through an organisation
of some kind, because general public doesn't possess such capabilities.
NASA seems to be pretty generous with the private sector, so maybe some R&D could be skipped.. but I don't know if you truly appreciate the costs
associated with a mission like this.
Pioneer 4, the first probe to fly within the vicinity of the moon, cost $150 million in 1959 dollars. That's something like $1.2 billion in 2016.
Also remember most people who were involved in the R&D of projects like this are either retired or dead. Even NASA would struggle at attempting
something like this again.
While i like your idea, and would love the mission to be a success...
But what I want are images not owned and possibly photoshoped by any government or private orginazation.
If they're PS images and covering up what we all *really* want to see on the moon (don't have to spell it out do i?) that is exactly why such a
mission would fail before it left the ground..or if it did actually make it to launch, i would imagine it would develop 'technical issues' during
Launching a payload into Earth orbit costs between $54 million (SpaceX) and ~$300 million (Atlas V) - Russian, European, Japanese and Indian launchers
are somewhere in between.
Once in Earth orbit, the moon probe will need an upper stage to boost it to a trans-lunar trajectory. This upper stage will be roughly twice as
massive as the probe itself, or tripling the overall mass of the rocket payload.
If you want to put the probe in lunar orbit, this will take a rocket & fuel combo that would be roughly as massive as the probe. Working backwards,
this would double the mass of the upper stage, quadrupling the overall rocket payload.
If you want to soft-land the probe, this would take ~3x the fuel of just making lunar orbit. Again working backwards, this dramatiaclly multiplies
the mass of the upper stage and the total mass of the rocket payload.
Note that the increased guidance and control systems required for entry into lunar orbit and/or landing will increase the mass of the probe itself,
which (working backwards) will increase the mass of the orbit/descent stages which will increase the mass of the upper stage, which increases the mass
of the rocket payload.
(As an aside, this is why men haven't been to the Moon since 1972. Technology has made computers much smaller and lighter and require less power, but
men are the same mass and size and their requirements for food and air have not changed. Furthermore, you need rockets to get them off of the moon
and return them to Earth. Working backwards again, this means that the orbit & descent stages must be bigger,which makes the upper stage MUCH bigger,
which makes the launching rocket gigantic - For manned missions, you need a Saturn V or something like it; and that is a fantastically expensive piece
Back to the probe...
None of what I have written is a show-stopper for your idea. I am simply defining the magnitude of the problem. Three countries have thus far
soft-landed unmanned probes on the Moon, and there is a prize out there for the private organization that does it first:
The lowest mass (and therefore lowest cost) mission that could return high resolution images of the lunar surface (and artifacts there-on) would be a
Ranger-style impactor. That's right, screw landing, orbit, or even slowing down - pick a
spot and hit it with something that will send back high-speed, high-def video like this:
"BAIL-OUT, YOU FOOL!!!"
Note that if you want images of a specfic area (say, an Apollo landing site), you will need precise targeting of both the probe and the camera, and a
good guidance & control system. Your probe may be fully automated (increasing your computer requirements), or you could track the probe's trajectory
on the way to the Moon and send course corrections (increasing your tracking and communications requirements).
Please do not risk hitting the site itself. If it's any known landing site (especially Apollo), historians will never forgive you. If it's an alien
artifact, ATS will lynch you. If you hit an alien base, well, That Would Be Bad.
Miss by a mile and you should still get good pix without doing damage. Just make sure your guidance system is accurate enough that you can
miss by a mile.
edit on 13-5-2016 by Saint Exupery because: Afterthoughts
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