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Thread: NASA's moon exploration ambitions

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    This may be of interest to some of you
    http://arc.aiaa.org/action/showMulti...%2F6.2013-3920
    It left out the CubeSats. The first official launch will carry 11 separate CubeSat missions. One of which is the Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper, or "Luna-H Map". It's mission - to measure and locate the exact amount of water on the Moon.

    http://www.popsci.com/cubesats-are-p...oon-and-beyond

    It’s been over 40 years since humans last set foot on the lunar surface. But that doesn't mean we’re done exploring the Moon. In fact, there have been over 50 successful robotic missions to the Moon, including six current missions operated by three different space agencies.

    So we’ve been the Moon. Now what? Many say we shouldn’t go back--instead let’s go to Mars. But, what if the only feasible way to get humankind to Mars is by way of the Moon?

    That’s what the Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper, or "Luna-H Map", is trying to figure out. The SpaceTrex lab at Arizona State University has partnered with NASA to create a tiny satellite with one important goal: to measure and locate the exact amount of water on the Moon.

    Why do we care about water on the moon? Because water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen, and when you mix those two ingredients back together, you get combustion. Or in other words, the Moon's water could be made into rocket fuel.

    Jekan Thanga, the head engineer on LunaH-Map dreams of a lunar gas station for astronauts. “Just think, we could have a refueling station at the L2 point," he says, referring to a point beyond the Moon where gravitation alignments would allow supplies in space to remain stationary. "Our astronauts could stop there to refuel and stock up on supplies before heading out to Mars, or Europa.”

  2. #62
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    That's where cubesats have a place.

    Not as a way to do earth-orbit assets with tiny LVs--but as disposable craft seeded from a much larger spacecraft bus.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by marsbug View Post
    To belabour the obvious: these are proposals only. If one or both is accepted to become an actual mission, that may be an indication that NASA still has hopes to continue Lunar exploration in a significant way (I hope they do).
    Well NASA has selected Lunar Flashlight to fly as secondary payload on Exploration Mission-1. Does that now convince you that NASA is still interested in exploring the moon.

    http://www.space-travel.com/reports/...ion_1_999.html

    Locating ice deposits in the moon's permanently shadowed craters addresses one of NASA's Strategic Knowledge Gaps (SKGs) to detect composition, quantity, distribution, form of water/H species and other volatiles associated with lunar cold traps. The scientific and economic importance of lunar volatiles extends far beyond the question "is there water on the moon?"

    Volatile materials including water come from sources central to NASA's strategic plans, including comets, asteroids, interplanetary dust particles, interstellar molecular clouds, solar wind, and lunar volcanic and radiogenic gases. The volatile inventory, distribution, and state (bound or free, evenly distributed or blocky, on the surface or at depth, etc.) are crucial for understanding how these molecules interact with the lunar surface, and for utilization potential.

    The Lunar Flashlight mission spacecraft maneuvers to its lunar polar orbit and uses its near infrared lasers to shine light into the shaded polar regions, while the on-board spectrometer measures surface reflection and composition. The Lunar Flashlight 6U spacecraft has heritage elements from predecessor systems including JPL's INSPIRE and JPL's experience with imaging spectrometers, including the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3).

    The mission will demonstrate a path where 6U CubeSats could, at dramatically lower cost than previously thought possible, explore, locate and estimate size and composition of ice deposits on the moon. It is a game-changing capability for expanded human exploration, planetary science, heliophysics, and other relevant instrument applications.

  4. #64
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    Looks like NASA's moon ambitions will get a big boost if President Trump chooses Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) as the next NASA administrator. He has indicated he wants the post.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-bl...-administrator

    "It’s rare that someone actively seeks to be NASA administrator. But Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) has informed the Trump transition team that he would like the job. One reason he is campaigning to head an agency that is at once popular with the American people and held in some disrespect by the political class is that he harbors ambitions for the space agency that go beyond business as usual.

    Currently in his third and last term, as he has term-limited himself, Bridenstine is the author of the American Space Renaissance Act, which contains a wide-ranging number of proposals to reform military space, commercial space, and NASA. More recently he posted in his Congressional blog an explanation of “Why the Moon Matters.” He provides a cogent, economic reason why Americans should return to the moon, the sooner the better."

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  5. #65
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    Now NASA is getting serious about going back to the moon.

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017...sample-return/

    "NASA is interested in the Moon again. This week, the space agency issued a new "request for information" to the aerospace industry for cargo transportation to the lunar surface. This new opportunity appears to represent NASA's increasing willingness to reconsider the Moon as a destination for human spaceflight.

    In the request, offered jointly by the agency's science, human spaceflight, and technology directorates, NASA seeks to partner with the commercial sector to deliver scientific payloads to the Moon. "NASA has identified a variety of exploration, science, and technology demonstration objectives that could be addressed by sending instruments, experiments, or other payloads to the lunar surface," the document states. "To address these objectives as cost-effectively as possible, NASA may procure payloads and related commercial payload delivery services to the Moon.""

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  6. #66
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    Seems reasonable to me for NASA to engage in a cooperative with other nations to share the cost.

  7. #67
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    Would SpaceX's Falcon Heavy and Dragon spacecraft be able to land a worthwhile mass on the moon?

  8. #68
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    Similar Wikipedia: Red Dragon

    The 2011 Red Dragon concept was conceived to use a modified 3.6-meter (12 ft) diameter Dragon module, with a mass of 6.5 tonnes (14,000 lb) and an interior volume of 7 cubic metres (250 cu ft) for up to 1 tonne (2,200 lb) of Mars-landed payload.
    What do you consider worthwhile?
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    Skepticism enables us to distinguish fancy from fact, to test our speculations. --Carl Sagan

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    Similar Wikipedia: Red Dragon



    What do you consider worthwhile?
    Yes, but your quote gives information only on Red Dragon, and does not say what booster is capable of delivering it to Mars. In any case I spent a few minutes searching and the answer to my question appears to be "yes." At least "on paper" Falcon Heavy can get Dragon to the moon with about 2,200 lbs of cargo and the Dragon should be capable of landing the cargo on the moon.

    By worthwhile I mean capable of "sending instruments, experiments, or other payloads to the lunar surface." 2,200 lbs is about the mass of the curiosity rover. I consider that worthwhile, but I was hoping for more.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darrell View Post
    Yes, but your quote gives information only on Red Dragon, and does not say what booster is capable of delivering it to Mars.
    My quote was a sample of what you might have learned if you had clicked on the Red Dragon link and spent a few minutes reading.

    I apologize that my spoonfeeding was incomplete. I hope we can serve you better next time.
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    Skepticism enables us to distinguish fancy from fact, to test our speculations. --Carl Sagan

  11. #71
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    01101001, I was going to say your response was unnecessarily rude, but I can't think of any circumstances where such rudeness would be necessary. Curb it.
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.
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    You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views.
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  12. #72
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    NASA is in a hurry to build a Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for its planed moon space station. It wants it to be ready to be launched by end 2021.

    http://spacenews.com/nasa-seeks-info...ateway-module/

    "NASA is taking the next small step in the development of a proposed Deep Space Gateway in cislunar space by requesting information about one of its core modules.

    A request for information (RFI), released by NASA July 17, seeks information from industry regarding their capabilities to build a Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), a module that will produce electrical power and provide chemical and electrical propulsion for the gateway.

    As currently envisioned by NASA, the PPE would be the first element of the gateway, launched as a “co-manifested payload” on the first crewed Space Launch System launch, taking advantage of the additional payload capacity provided by the Block 1B version of the SLS. The PPE would go into what is known as a near rectilinear halo orbit around the moon within 100 days of launch."

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  13. #73
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    See a 8 minute video of how the EM-1 mission will look like.

    https://www.space.com/38635-nasa-moo...n-1-video.html

    The mission will take roughly 25.5 days, and its highlight will be putting the spacecraft in a lunar orbit that will take it farther from Earth than any other crew-capable spacecraft has been. Orion's peak distance will be 270,000 miles (435,000 kilometers) from the planet — about 1,000 times the distance from Earth to the International Space Station. [Exploration Mission 1: A Step-by-Step Return to the Moon in Pictures]

    The plan calls for EM-1 to depart Earth, cruise for four days to the moon and then inject itself into an elliptical orbit around the moon. After working in the moon's neighborhood for a week, EM-1 will leave lunar orbit and spend four days returning to Earth. It will re-enter the atmosphere at 24,500 mph (39,450 km/h) and splash down in the Pacific Ocean within sight of a recovery ship.

    "This is the first of many missions to come that will use the deep-space exploration system to prepare our team, our ship and our astronauts for human operations in deep space," NASA mission manager Mike Sarafin said in the video. A human test mission is scheduled to follow around 2023.

  14. #74
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    Tucked into Trump's latest budget are two missions for the moon.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason...ding-plan.html

    As I continue parsing the White House’s new NASA budget proposal, I’m realizing just how much the Trump administration hopes to spend over the next five years on new human spaceflight programs. I recently wrote about the commercial LEO development program, which will nurture a private replacement for the ISS, and the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a miniature space station near the Moon. There are also two more programs, both of which focus on humans exploring the lunar surface, that I’ll cover in this article.

    To emphasize: this is all new stuff. By my count, the White House proposes to spend $990 million on new human spaceflight programs in 2019, and $5.7 billion over five years. That’s a lot! If you’ve been clamoring for NASA to make a larger shift toward commercial partners and the Moon, this budget is for you—providing Congress goes along with the plan, and the White House follows through in later budgets.

    The two lunar surface programs are called Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities (ACSC) and Lunar Discovery and Exploration. ACSC is part of the agency’s human spaceflight division, while Lunar Discovery and Exploration will be managed by the planetary science division.

  15. #75
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    NASA is moving forward with its moon exploration plans. Its latest more is to solicit commercial companies with proposals for moon landers.

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018...lunar-landers/

    As NASA refocuses – once again – on returning to the Lunar surface, the agency has published a Request For Information (RFI) that will be used to gauge interest from the private/commercial space sector in building domestic lunar landers. The request points to an evolution of concept, with small-scale cargo landers being used to prove the technology before feeding into the development of human-rated vehicles.

    The RFI is related to the political direction – known as President’s Space Policy Directive-1 – that calls for American bootprints on the surface of the Moon for the first time since the 1970s.

    The request outlines NASA’s aim to better determine the state-of-art and maturity of lander capability in the private sector and mature its own requirements for a human-class lander.

  16. #76
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    The Space Review this week carries an article "How should NASA return to the Moon?". Looks like the chant is now use commercial companies.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3488/1

    It is the first big issue of the Bridenstine era at NASA, although many of the key decisions predated his arrival on the ninth floor of NASA Headquarters. If NASA is going to go back to the Moon, how should it get there?

    When NASA released its fiscal year 2019 budget proposal in February, it included something called the “Exploration Campaign” that offered a consolidated vision of its lunar exploration plans. That campaign combined development of the Deep Space Gateway—now renamed, less eloquently, as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway—with a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface. Those missions would start with hitching rides on commercial landers, while later developing larger landers that could be precursors for human-rated landers.

    NASA, in the budget rollout and subsequent presentations, has combined those elements of the Exploration Campaign into a single chart, featuring a series of blue horizontal stripes representing the various elements of the campaign over time, overlaid with lighter vertical stripes intended to highlight missions, at least those notionally planned. NASA officials have dubbed it the “DNA chart” because of its resemblance to DNA chromatography, in much the same way that an earlier chart for its Journey to Mars effort, with intertwined strands stretching from the Earth to Mars like tentacles, became known as the “squid chart.”

  17. #77
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    Steve Clarke will be the person to drive NASA's moon ambitions. He has been appointed as NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration.

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Ne...eyond_999.html

    Clarke returns to NASA after serving as a senior policy analyst with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where he was responsible for a number of important initiatives.

    "Steve returns to a position ideally suited for him and the agency as we return to the Moon," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "He'll help integrate near-term and long-term lunar exploration with science missions and other destinations, including Mars."

    Clarke will play a vital role in NASA's current lunar campaign with a focus on growing a network of commercial partnerships and activities that can support U.S. science, technology, and exploration objectives.

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