# A Return to the Moon by the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary.

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Exoscientist, Nov 2, 2012.

1. ### ExoscientistMathematicianRegistered Senior Member

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Argues the SLS as early as 2017 can be used to launch manned lunar lander missions:

SLS for Return to the Moon by the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2012/10/sls-for-return-to-moon-by-50th.html

The argument for why this is doable is rather simple. The Early Lunar Access(ELA) proposal of the early 90's, which deserves to be better known actually, suggested that by using a lightweight 2-man capsule and all cryogenic in-space stages that a manned lunar lander mission could be mounted with only 52 mT required to LEO, half that previously thought necessary.
The only technical complaint about its feasibility was that it required a crew capsule of only 3 mT empty weight. But the kicker is NASA is planning a Space Exploration Vehicle(SEV) at that same low 3 mT empty weight. So the SLS at a 70 mT payload capability will be able to launch such a mission using the SEV as crew capsule following the ELA architecture with plenty of margin.

Bob Clark

3. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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It's still an expensive project and the risks are not negligible. We'd have to make a case that the rewards would be worth the cost and the risk. What are the rewards?

5. ### ExoscientistMathematicianRegistered Senior Member

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Opponents of the SLS have argued we can accomplish the same objectives using smaller expendables and orbiting propellant depots. However, such in space propellant depots would be cheaper if the propellant could be obtained from the Moon since you would not need to haul it out of the Earth's deep gravity well.
In my blog post I acknowledge that such manned lunar lander missions could be accomplished more cheaply by using the Falcon Heavy. But NASA is not likely to fund that since it would undercut its own BEO(beyond low Earth orbit) missions. This would also be something NASA could fund and it would give impetus to continue the funding of the SLS since a manned return to the Moon is something widely desired by supporters of space exploration. We would then have a definite mission for the SLS and in a short time frame, less than a decade. No longer would the SLS be derided as a "rocket to nowhere".

Bob Clark

7. ### ExoscientistMathematicianRegistered Senior Member

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Just saw this:

Exploration Alternatives: From Propellant Depots to Commercial Lunar Base.
November 15th, 2012 by Chris Bergin

I first thought the commercial plan was going to follow the Early Lunar Access (ELA) proposal because it mentioned landing two commercial passengers on the Moon. ELA was a lightweight architecture that used a small two-man capsule:

Encyclopedia Astronautica.
Early Lunar Access.
http://www.astronautix.com/craft/earccess.htm

But it is unlikely in the commercial plan they mean the passengers are to fly alone without one or more professional pilots. And also the article mentions the commercial plan is to use on orbit assembly. But by using the Falcon Heavy or the SLS you could launch the ELA architecture with a single launch.

Still, using two launches of the Delta IV Heavy both at its maximum payload to orbit of 25 mT we could launch the ELA architecture. Even if the Delta IV Heavy is not man rated, we could use separate launchers to take the astronauts to orbit and transfer them to the Moon vehicle after it is assembled.

For the NASA proposal, the article mentions the Lunar Surface Sortie (LSS) proposal. But this was still to use a 4 man capsule, which likely means the large, heavy Orion. It also would involve a separate lunar crew module, also at variance with the lightweight ELA architecture.

This lunar lander of the LSS proposal would then likely be akin to the large, expensive Altair lunar lander. So this proposal would be similar to the Constellation program whose high expense caused it to be cancelled. Better would be if NASA went small following the ELA architecture to use a single, small capsule that would carry the astronauts all the way from LEO to the lunar surface and back again. This would allow a NASA return to the Moon with a proportionally small additional cost above that of the SLS itself, and in less than a decade.

These commercial or NASA missions, if carried through, would allow a return to the Moon by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions if not of Apollo 11 itself.

Bob Clark

8. ### youreyesamorphous oceanValued Senior Member

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it is not going to happen by 2017.

9. ### ExoscientistMathematicianRegistered Senior Member

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Just saw this article by legendary Apollo manager Chris Kraft mentioned on the NasaSpaceFlight.com forum:

Space Launch System is a threat to JSC, Texas jobs.
By Chris Kraft and Tom Moser | April 20, 2012 | Updated: April 20, 2012 8:20pm
Since Kraft is opposed to the SLS and he says this plan uses existing launch vehicles, it can't use the SLS or the Falcon Heavy. It must then use something similar to the 'Early Lunar Access' plan that uses orbital assembly, perhaps using two launches of the Delta IV Heavy.
Like the suppressed report that suggested orbiting propellant depots could accomplish the goals of the SLS at lower cost, this report will eventually also come out. So whose got the inside scoop?

Bob Clark

10. ### ElectricFetusSanity going, going, goneValued Senior Member

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agree

Every time I see one of this threads I fill with anger at how we squander manned space exploration (and colonization), I bet you if humans ever do colonize the star their ancestral language of what ever they speak then will be mandarin, not English, and its the sever incompetence of American politicians to blame for that, not technological or scientific hurled just pure human near sightedness.

11. ### ExoscientistMathematicianRegistered Senior Member

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This article by Amy Shira Teitel about the Chris Kraft piece discusses and links to a NASA report showing propellant depots can allow BEO missions without the SLS, saving billions:

EX-FLIGHT DIRECTOR URGES NASA TO KILL NEXT ROCKET SYSTEM.
Analysis by Amy Shira Teitel
Wed Apr 25, 2012 01:00 PM ET
http://news.discovery.com/space/mercury-flight-director-urges-nasa-to-kill-sls-120425.html

So it's probably the report referred to by Chris Kraft:

"Propellant Depot Requirements Study Status Report"
http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/21.jul2011.vxs.pdf

The report discusses several scenarios for lunar, asteroidal, or Mars missions without using heavy lift vehicles by using propellant depots. It does discuss use of the Falcon Heavy in some scenarios, but others use the Delta IV Heavy. About this last, it's interesting they give the max payload of the Delta IV Heavy as 28 mT. But the highest I ever read it having was 25 mT. Anyone know what modifications to the Delta IV Heavy would allow it to have this high a payload capability?
A disadvantage of the approaches discussed however is the large number of launches required even for the lunar missions, 6 for the Falcon Heavy and 10 for the Delta IV Heavy. This is because the scenarios use the large, heavy Orion capsule, the service module, and a separate, large lunar lander, likely akin to the Altair lunar lander.
On the other hand if instead the Early Lunar Access (ELA) architecture were used it could be done with a single launch of the Falcon Heavy or two with the Delta IV Heavy:

Encyclopedia Astronautica.
Early Lunar Access.
http://www.astronautix.com/craft/earccess.htm

Bob Clark

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14. ### youreyesamorphous oceanValued Senior Member

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bro Bobby chill, Dragon got it going to LEO for ISS and you already setting them for the moon insertion orbit, get real it takes much more advances and time for that thing to be retrofitted right w/ ACS and etc. Neither GTO or translunar trajectories been tested with Falcon Heavy, that niche has been filled by current heavy rocket launchers; Atlas V (LRO for NASA), Delta II (Grail for NASA), H-IIA (Kaguya for Jaxa), Long March 3C (Change for CNSA) PSLV-XL (Chandrayan for ISRO).

and whoever opposes SLS is going against space expansion plans.

15. ### leopoldValued Senior Member

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i agree 100%
we hurled enough tonnage at the moon with apollo to support a small moonbase.
granted that some of the equipment wouldn't survive the landings but some would.
the astronauts could live comfortably inside the S-4B stage while other launches provided other raw material.

16. ### youreyesamorphous oceanValued Senior Member

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You are proposing autonomy with a human mission to the moon, that has not been tested at such distances and includes too high of a risk of failure when it comes with human lives at stake. The various autonomous missions intertwined with human operations in space recently have all been with ISS, mainly; Dragon (SpaceX), ATV (ESA), HTV (Jaxa), Progress (RKA). And all of those mission are Earth ground controlled from MOC in case of mishaps.

17. ### leopoldValued Senior Member

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it was "tested" well enough for apollo 11.
it's all hindsight anyway.
it's easy to analyze the situation from a distance of 50 years.
in my opinion apollo 8 posed more of a risk than all of the other flights together.
the fact remains that we could have landed an excess of 350 tons on the moon and that is excluding the spent stages.

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the money invested into Apollo program was a net $19,408,134,000 <- 150 billion dollars in today's money Who is willing nowdays to cash out 150 billion dollars, exactly? Get real, technology for the moon needs efficiency and redundancy, so all that was good than back 50 years ago isn't worth a cent now. 19. ### leopoldValued Senior Member Messages: 17,455 apollo basically wrote the book on launch vehicles, along with the redstone and agena. much of that money went into research, design and development. some of this money could have been saved if the vehicle was unmanned. plus we could have soft landed at least 70 tons of material, food, gas, air. interesting subject really. 20. ### ExoscientistMathematicianRegistered Senior Member Messages: 139 "Golden Spike" revealed their architecture for a commercial return to the Moon this week: How Golden Spike's Moon Landing Plan Works (Infographic ) http://www.space.com/18805-golden-spike-private-moon-landing-graphic.html They estimated development costs in the$7 to $8 billion dollar range, less than 1/10 the cost of the Apollo or Constellation programs. However, even these numbers may be over inflated. The origin of the presented cost numbers were from NASA guys using NASA costing models. However, SpaceX has shown by following a commercial approach development costs can be cut by 1/5th to 1/10th that of NASA’s. So what I think Golden Spike should do is bring SpaceX on board. With the development costs reduced to this extent, then we would have the really exciting possibility of the flight costs being brought down perhaps to the$200 million range, especially if using the Falcon Heavy launcher. This clearly would have a major impact on the prospect of profitability.

The only problem might be is that Elon appears to have no interest in the Moon, being focused on Mars as the ultimate goal. However the profitability motive may sway him. There is also the fact that these missions could serve to prove the capabilities of the Dragon even for BEO missions. It could also serve to prove the value of the Falcon Heavy for launching large payload at low cost, something Elon definitely wants for getting Air Force contracts.

As I discussed previously the importance of what SpaceX has accomplished is that it will make clear that manned space flight can be accomplished at a fraction of what was thought necessary, thus making manned space flight routine world-wide. Combining this with small, low cost approaches to BEO flight, suggests such missions can also happen on a regular basis.

We are returning to the Moon, this time to stay.

Bob Clark

21. ### DinosaurRational SkepticValued Senior Member

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This Thread reminds me of a delightful commercial. Following is a paraphrase, not an exact quote.

22. ### LakonValued Senior Member

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I've always considered it interesting that it was so easy in the sixties and seventies to put men on moon, but it's so hard ans complex now.

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