NASA is zooming in on a project to utilize its giant SLS rocket and Orion’s co-manifested payload of 10 metric tons on Moon missions, to assemble a small base around the Moon and experiment with long crew stays in preparations for missions to MARS.
These program phases are compatible with the desire of other international efforts to focus on the build up of a Moon village where we could experiment with mining, processing and using resources found on celestial bodies. (e.g. Oxygen, water, metals) and build a budding architecture to refuel rockets and provide other services for crewed or non crewed missions on or in the vicinity of the Moon.
A contributing author to The Space Review states that the current plan, outlined below would result in using a 100 ton rocket to bring 10 ton payloads in orbit around the moon, which would be a waste of both the lofting capacity and the large volume of the cavernous cargo hold of the SLS rockets.
Instead, the author proposes to loft 100 mton volumes in Low Earth Orbit and use the proposed SEP stage to spiral it out to L1 or other Moon Orbits in the most fuel efficient manner. As a result a large Deep Space Hab-Deep Space Tug combo could deliver 80 metric tons to L1 instead of the same amount requiring a whopping four SLS launches. And the annual capacity of one to two SLS’s would be freed up for other deep Space Missions.
While we agree with the sound logic of the author with regard to the most efficient use of the capabilities of this very capable giant work horse, it seems to miss out on the fact that the flat budget imposed on the SLS-program in the current mandate given to NASA by the US Congress, would still push out the design and construction of these massive Deep Space Habitats and a more potent version of the required Ion propelled Tug to well in the middle of the 2020’ies. As a result, filling up the intermediate SLS missions, results in at most a slightly different architecture.
NASA’s build up plans for its’ DSG, Deep Space Gateway:
The authors’ proposal gels with how our MARVELOUS vehicle would coast out to the vicinity of the Moon while being able to serve by itself as a Deep Space Gateway.
However, the big difference would be that our vehicle would in addition be capable of landing and taking off from the Moon, a capability that comes in very handy, and doesn’t add any complexity to the design of the system if you design for a system to be capable of interplanetary travel with the least amount of technical complexity and R&D cost.
MARVELOUS only uses technology that have either been demonstrated or have a high TRL. It is just a smart integration of existing tech adding to the design a lot of weight saving synergies.
More information about our MARVELOUS design will be shared in future posts.
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