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Lord Jubjub
2005-Jan-29, 03:06 AM
If we were to restart the Apollo project--or some similar manned landing on the moon--what aspect of the project would the most expensive?

rleyland
2005-Jan-29, 03:22 AM
If we were to restart the Apollo project--or some similar manned landing on the moon--what aspect of the project would the most expensive?

Probably getting government funding... :-)


Might be more feasible as private enterprise. In which case, development of a suitable heavy lift booster would become the limiting item.


Robbo

skrap1r0n
2005-Jan-29, 05:00 AM
I'm curious...wouldn't it make some sense to launch a booster into orbit. Then launch a light CM/LM to meet up with the orbiting booster. Attach and head to the moon.

Incidentally, how long do you guys think it will be before Scaled Composites orbits one of their designs?

Evan
2005-Jan-29, 05:32 AM
The costliest part is paying the lobbyists.

frogesque
2005-Jan-29, 06:04 AM
The costliest part is paying the lobbyists.

Can I be a lobbyist please?

joema
2005-Jan-29, 05:14 PM
I'm curious...wouldn't it make some sense to launch a booster into orbit. Then launch a light CM/LM to meet up with the orbiting booster. Attach and head to the moon.
This was discussed for Apollo. Called the "mission mode" debates, early in the program they had to decide whether to use earth orbit assembly (Earth Orbit Rendezvous), direct ascent (just go straight there), or lunar orbit rendezvous (what they ultimately chose).

Each had tradeoffs in terms of mission complexity vs booster requirements. Direct ascent required the biggest booster, but was the simplest. It would have required a booster much bigger than the Saturn V.

Earth Orbit Rendezvous required less booster capability, but was more complex.

Lunar Orbit Rendezvous required still less booster capability, but was the most complex, requiring tricky rendezvous operations in lunar orbit 240,000 mi away.

Were this done today, they would revisit all options in light of current technology, booster, and cost constraints and make the best decision.

A big factor is desired lunar payload. The smaller the payload, the smaller the booster and less complexity required.

Back in the 1960s it was technically possible and plans were drawn for a simplified one man lunar lander based on Gemini/Titan. It possibly could have worked. NASA ultimately decided to wait for Apollo, since it enabled a more robust lunar capability while still meeting the end-of-decade deadline. http://www.astronautix.com/craft/lmllight.htm

Full details on Apollo program: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4205/contents.html

Doodler
2005-Jan-29, 05:38 PM
If we were to restart the Apollo project--or some similar manned landing on the moon--what aspect of the project would the most expensive?

Bart Sibrel's legal bills. :)


Seriously, the highest cost would probably be the rearrangement of the ground support facilities for the first launch. The gantry would have to be rebuilt for the Saturn V assembly, and one of the gantries currently assembled for the space shuttle would have to be disassembled and mothballed.

joema
2005-Jan-29, 06:58 PM
There is no way the Saturn V would be resurrected, either "as is", or an updated version. It's just too expensive, there's no need for that much payload on a single launcher.

Existing launchers such as Delta IV Heavy can handle any needed load, although multiple launches and orbital assembly might be used. Launch pad, manufacturing and support facilities already exist for the Delta IV family, so there's no need for an expensive brand new heavy-lift booster.

Apollo total cost in 1968 dollars was about $24 billion, or $130 billion in 2005 dollars. Of that about $80 billion (2005 dollars) was vehicle development and production (Saturn, Apollo, Lunar Module, etc.) The remainder of $50 billion was non-vehicle program costs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Apollo

If it were done again today to the same scale -- same lunar payload and lunar mission lengths, it would probably cost somewhat less. No major new launcher would be required, but a lunar lander and separate command vehicle would be. Possibly the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) already under development could be the "command module". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crew_Exploration_Vehicle

If done to a larger scale including manned lunar habitats, then development of those would increase the cost. Supply trips would be a factor. In essence it would be a lunar version of ISS.

Like Apollo the non-vehicle program costs (training, support, simulation, ground facilities, etc) would be a sizeable fraction of the total program.

ToSeek
2005-Jan-29, 07:40 PM
Earth Orbit Rendezvous required less booster capability, but was more complex.

Lunar Orbit Rendezvous required still less booster capability, but was the most complex, requiring tricky rendezvous operations in lunar orbit 240,000 mi away.

It's arguable which was the more complex. LOR required rendezvous in lunar orbit, but on the other hand it allowed the lunar landing vehicle to be simple and focused. For EOR, the lunar landing vehicle needed to have the same thrust capability as an Atlas rocket but be able to land and take off again from the Moon without any of the support team that came with Earth-based launches.

joema
2005-Jan-29, 08:01 PM
Exactly. Your "Atlas on the moon" statement was the exact argument the LOR proponents used. Namely that the EOR simplicity was illusionary.

By LOR being most complex I meant by the traditional thinking of the day. When the mission mode debates where happening (early 60s) even rendezvous in earth orbit was unproven, so by that standard LOR was scary.

With our current capability any kind of rendezvous is no problem.

For any new manned lunar program, all the mission modes will be revisited.

Regarding the original question -- what part would be most expensive. In Apollo vehicle development was about 60% of total program cost. For a new program we wouldn't need a totally new booster, nor (maybe) a new crew vehicle (CEV could do that), but would need a new lander. Based on that alone the vehicle cost as a % of total program costs might be less than Apollo. OTOH if lunar habitation is a goal, then development and support costs for that sector would be substantial.

Lord Jubjub
2005-Jan-30, 02:42 AM
Essentially, the collective thought is that we would not need to re-invent the wheel and launch using a new version of the Saturn V. The most expensive parts would be in the bureaucracy to manage the program and train the astronauts.

JHotz
2005-Jan-31, 09:45 PM
NM