by Marcel F. Williams
Part II: The Moon
If NASA is provided with $3 billion in annual additional funding from the DOD, as proposed in Part I of this article, then full funding for NASA's cis-lunar architecture can begin in 2019. About $1.5 billion annually could be used for the development of unmanned and crewed single staged extraterrestrial landing vehicles derived from Boeing's 2.4 meter in diameter super light weight cryotank technology. Most of the remaining $1.5 billion in annual additional funding could be used for the conversion of the SLS EUS into a solar powered propellant producing water depots and into spacious deep space habitats and into regolith shielded lunar habitats.
Additional human spaceflight related funding for NASA will come from charging guest astronauts from foreign space agencies $150 million for every foreign astronauts participating in a beyond LEO mission for NASA. Since NASA's MPCV can carry up to six astronauts and private commercial companies will be capable of transporting up to seven individuals into orbit, NASA could easily accommodate up to three foreign astronauts per beyond LEO mission, saving NASA up to $450 million per flight.
Substantially more funding for NASA will be available once funds currently dedicated for Commercial Crew-- development-- are ended in the early 2020s and the ISS program is, finally, ended in the late 2020s.
The following notional SLS and private commercial launch sequences present a scenario for establishing a permanent American presence within cis-lunar space and on the surface of the Moon by the mid 2020s while also establishing water mining and propellant producing architecture on the lunar surface and a propellant producing water storage systems at LEO and EML1. During the 2020s, under this scenario, SLS flights will be limited to two launches per year once new RS-25 engines are in production.
ACES-68: United Launch Alliance reusable upper stage with BE-3 LOX/LH2 engine
|Credit United Launch Alliance|
CST-100 (Starliner): Boeing Aerospace commercial crew capsule. Combined with an ACES-68 and a Cygnus module, the Starliner could be utilized as a reusable orbital transfer vehicle within cis-lunar space.
|Credit Boeing Aerospace|
Cygnus/Orion: Internally mass shielded external habitat Cygnus module for Orion MPCV to protect astronauts from heavy ions during cis-lunar journeys beyond the Earth's magnetosphere
|Credit Orbital ATK|
DSH: SLS/EUS deployed microgravity Deep Space Habitat derived from SLS hydrogen propellant tank technology
EML1: Earth-Moon Lagrange point 1
EML2: Earth-Moon Lagrange point 2
ETLV-4: Notional reusable crew landing vehicle and orbital transfer vehicle utilizing Boeing's 2.4 meter cyrotank technology and the ULA's IVF technology. Five tonnes of water shielding provides a section of the crew area with protection from from heavy ions. Unmanned version (R-ETLV-4) could be used to deploy small robotic vehicles or cargo to the lunar surface.
EUS: The exploration upper stage would enable the SLS to deploy up to 105 tonnes of payload to LEO or at least 30 tonnes of payload to the Earth-Moon Lagrange points or low lunar orbit.
LRH: Notional CLV-7B deployed Lunar Regolith Habitat derived from SLS hydrogen tank technology that automatically deploys a surrounding regolith wall (eight aluminum panels hinged to the side of the pressurized habitat and joined together by an enveloping kevlar sheet ) filled with lunar regolith 2 meters thick, reducing radiation exposure withing the pressurized habitat to less than 5 Rem per year even during solar minimum conditions
MLT (Mobile LOX Tanker): Derived from a single 2.4 meter cryotanks for fueling reusable landing craft with liquid oxygen.
|Credit Boeing Aerospace|
MWT (Mobile Water Tanker): Derived from a single 2.4 meter cryotanks for fueling reusable landing craft with liquid oxygen.
SLS: Space Launch System would be capable of deploying 70 to 105 tonnes to LEO or more than 30 tonnes of payload to the Earth-Moon Lagrange points
WPD-OTV-125: Notional reusable propellant (LOX/LH2) producing water depot derived from the EUS and utilizing IVF technology capable of storing up to 125 tonnes of LOX/LH2 propellant and up to 200 tonnes of water.
Notional launch sequences utilized to progressively establish a permanent American presence on the surface of the Moon:
First Space X launch of the Falcon Heavy (up to 54 tonnes to LEO)
First commercial crew launch of the Atlas V/Centaur/CST-100 (Starliner) by the ULA
First commercial crew launch of the Falcon 9/Dragon by Space X
1. This will be the beginning of private commercial crew launches to LEO and the return of crew launches into space from American soil and
SLS Launch 1: First NASA test launch of heavy lift vehicle and unmanned Orion/MPCV
First commercial launch of the Vulcan/Centaur by the ULA (up to 20 tonnes to LEO)
1. This will be the beginning of NASA's heavy lift program
Commercial launch vehicle deploys first private habitat to LEO ( BA-330)
1. This will be the beginning of the deployment of private commercial pressurized habitats to LEO by private commercial spacecraft
SLS Launch 2: NASA SLS/EUS deployment of BA-330 to EML1
SLS Launch 3: First SLS/EUS launch of a crew aboard the Cygnus/Orion MPCV to EML1
Commercial Launch: Satellite lunar navigation system for NASA and DOD are deployed by commercial launch vehicles to EML1 and EML2 (two lunar navigation satellites to EML1 and two lunar navigation satellites to EML2)
1. The beginning of two NASA SLS launches per year.
2. Since the SLS is likely to be assembled and operated by a private company, NASA should give that company the option of being able to utilize an SLS vehicle for at least one private commercial launch per year. Such commercial launches could include the deployment of private commercial microgravity or artificial gravity habitats to LEO or the deployments of habitats to the lunar surface.
3. The first test launch of the EUS for an unmanned mission should enhance the safety of the first crew launch later in the year
4. Since the BA-330 will have more than 40 cm of shielding, that should be more than enough to effectively protect astronauts beyond the magnetosphere from the deleterious effects of heavy ions and radiation from major solar events.
5. Lunar navigation satellites will enable NASA and the DOD to deploy payloads to the lunar poles and to communicate with astronauts on the lunar surface at the lunar poles.
SLS Launch 4: Deployment of EUS derived propellant producing water depot (WPD-OTV-125) plus two ETLV-4 reusable landing spacecraft housed within the large SLS payload fairing .
SLS Launch 5: Second NASA SLS/EUS crew launch of the Orion/MPCV to BA-330@EML1
Commercial Launch: BA-330 launched to LEO for NASA by commercial launch vehicle
1. Beginning of water deposition to depots @ LEO and EML1 by private commercial launch companies for NASA (over 100 tonnes of water delivered to EML1 per year; over 200 tonnes of water delivered to LEO per year)
2. After producing its own propellant at LEO, the WPD-OTV-125 depots will transport itself and its detachable solar array to EML1
3. An ETLV-4 vehicles will be tested unmanned, traveling from LEO and EML1 where it will refuel to return to LEO
4. A second unmanned ETLV-4 will also travel from LEO to EML1 but will return with astronauts aboard who initially traveled to EML1 aboard the MPCV .
5. MPCV will remain docked at the BA-330 @ EML1 as an emergency escape vessel
6. DOD astronauts will be launched to their LEO BA-330 LEO habitat by commercial crew launch vehicles
SLS Launch 6: Deployment of OTV-125 plus two tele-operated R-ETLV-4 to LEO (destined for the lunar poles).
SLS Launch 7: Deployment of second propellant producing water depot (WPD-OTV-125) plus two more ETLV-4 reusable landing vehicles.
Commercial Launch: First ULA Vulcan launch with reusable ACES 68 upper stage (up to 40 tonnes to LEO with the addition solid rocket boosters)
Commercial Launch: BA-330 launched to LEO for DOD by commercial launch vehicle
1. The MPCV will no longer be used to transport astronauts to EML1.
2. The two unmanned R-ETLV-4 vehicles will make their first landings at the lunar poles (one to the north lunar pole and the second to the south lunar pole). They will both return to EML1 with regolith samples from both lunar poles less than two weeks after landing. Crewed ETLV-4 vehicles will transport the regolith samples back to LEO and Commercial Crew vehicles will return the crew and lunar samples back to Earth.
3. OTV-125 will be used to transport heavy SLS payloads (up to 90 tonnes) from LEO to other regions of cis-lunar space.
4. 51 years after the last crewed American lunar landings, American and foreign astronauts will use two ETLV-4 vehicles to conduct the first crewed mission to the lunar surface, . One ETLV-4 will transport the other ETLV-4 to low lunar orbit from EML1 and then back to EML1 after the other ETLV-4 returns the crew from the lunar surface. A third ETLV-4 will transport the astronauts back to LEO where Commercial Crew vehicles will transport them back to the Earth's surface.
SLS Launch 8: Deployment of two CLV-7B to LEO and then transported to EML1 by reusable OTV-125: Fueled at the EML1 depot, the first CLV-7B will have an ATHLETE robot that will deploy electric powered excavation vehicles, sintering vehicles, , backhoe, lifting crane, to the south lunar pole. The second EML1 refueled CLV-7B will be used to deploy four mobile solar arrays with more than one MWe of total electric power capacity to the South lunar pole.
SLS Launch 9: A single CLV-7B to orbit plus a second OTV-125 orbital transfer vehicle plus a single CLV-7B carrying a Lunar Regolith Habitat (LRH) will be deployed to LEO. The OTV-125 will transport the CLV-7B and the LRH to EML1. Fueled at EML1, the CLV-7B to deploy a LRH to the already sintered landing area at the lunar outpost at the South lunar pole.
Commercial Launch 1: BA-330 launched to LEO for DOD by commercial launch vehicle and then transferred to EML1 by OTV-125
Commercial Launch 2: Cygnus/CST-100/ACES deployed to LEO by Vulcan launch vehicle for utilization as a reusable crew orbital transfer vehicle within cis-lunar space
1. Teleoperated mobile microwave robots will sinter areas for landing spacecraft, deploying solar arrays, and for habitat modules, and for propellant depots will be created
2. Electric powered backhoes will deposit lunar regolith withing the automatically deployed regolith wall surrounding the pressurized habitat providing astronauts with radiation exposure levels less than 5 Rem per year during solar minimum conditions and protection against micrometeorites and radiation from major solar events.
4. First NASA and DOD astronauts transferred between LEO and EML1 by private commercial ACES-68/CST-100/Cygnus. The use of reusable private commercial orbital transfer vehiclees will allow NASA to use its reusable ETLV-4 vehicles exclusively for crew missions to the lunar surface from EML1.
5. Reusable teleoperated ACES-68 space vehicles could also refuel at NASA LEO depots in order to deploy satellites to GPS, geosynchronous, and polar orbits. An Delta IV heavy, for instance can only deploy a satellite weighing up 6.7 tonnes into geosynchronous orbit; but it could place four such satellites into low Earth orbit which could later be transferred to GEO by the ACES-68.
5. Reusable teleoperated ACES-68 vehicles could also be used to transfer duplicated military satellites to EML4 where the could be safely stored away and monitored and redeployed if a similar satellite is damaged.
SLS Launch 10: Deployment of two Deep Space Habitat (DSH) to EML1 for OTV-125 deployment to EML1(NASA) and EML4 (DOD)
SLS Launch 11: A second SLS launch will deploy a single CLV-7B to orbit plus a second OTV-125 orbital transfer vehicle. Transported by the OTV-125 to EML1, the fueled CLV-7B to deploy a LRH (Lunar Regolith Hab to the lunar surface.
Commercial Launch: BA-330 launched to LEO for DOD by commercial launch vehicle and then transferred to EML4 by OTV-125
1. The DSH will allow NASA to test the integrity of SLS EUS derived pressurized habitats
2. DOD operations at EML4 aboard the BA-330 and DSH will involve the repair and refueling of zombie satellites for later redeployment and the monitoring and testing of back up satellites located at EML4. If a strategically valuable satellite is destroyed or disabled, back up satellites located at EML4 will be deployed.
SLS Launch 12: SLS deployment of two WPD-LV-7A to LEO. Vehicles refuel at LEO and self deploy themselves to EML1 and then self deploy themselves to the lunar outpost. Alternatively, both vehicles could be transported to EML1 by an OTV-125 before being fueled for lunar deployment.
SLS Launch 13: SLS deploys two CLV-7B to LEO. OTV-125 transports the vehicles to EML1 where they will refuel. One CLV-7B will be carrying a mobile hydrogen tanker (MHT) derived from the 2.4 meter cryotank technology plus four Water Bug water extraction robots
the second CLV-7B will carry two mobile water tankers (MWT), two mobile LOX tankers (MLT)
1. The teleoperated Water Bugs will use microwaves to extract and store up to a tonne of water from the lunar regolith at the lunar poles. Teleoperated MWT will be used to extract the water from the Water Bugs and then deposit the water into the WPD-LV-7A propellant producing depots.
2. Teleoperated MHT and MLT units will extract the liquid hydrogen and oxygen from the WPD-LA-7A depots in order to refuel the reusable ETLV-4, R-ETLV-4, and CLV-7B vehicles.
3. Teleoperated MWT will be used to extract the water stored at the WPD-LV-7A in order to fill up water bags tied securely on top of the reusable CLV-7B vehicles in order to transport lunar water to the propellant producing water depots located at EML1.
So, before the end of 2026, under this scenario, thanks to the additional DOD funding ($3 billion annually), NASA will have one BA-330 habitat at LEO and one at EML1. The DOD will also have one BA-330 at LEO, one at EML1, and one at EML4. NASA will also have a DSH at EML1 while the DOD will have a DSH at EML4. And NASA will also have two habitat modules (LRH) at the south lunar pole, the beginning of America's permanent human presence on the surface of the Moon!
So under this scenario, before the end of 2026, the DOD will have periodically occupied microgravity outpost at LEO and EML1 while NASA will have a water storage and propellant producing outpost at EML1 and a water producing, storage, and propellant producing outpost at one of the lunar poles. Such a water and propellant producing extraterrestrial infrastructure should make it relatively easy for NASA to quickly and sustainably expand America's realm to the orbit of Mars, to the moons of Mars, and to the surface of Mars-- using much of the infrastructure developed for cis-lunar space and the surface of the Moon.
The conclusion of this article (Part III: Artificial Gravity and Mars) will be posted next week.
Links and References
Practical Timelines and Funding for Establishing Permanent Outpost on the Moon and Mars using Propellant Producing Water Depots and SLS and Commercial Launch Capability (Part I)