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LRO development
Phil Stooke
post Apr 4 2006, 03:01 AM
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RLEP-2 will be a brand new spacecraft, so they will want a brand new name. I think it's still a bit early for any hard news about the vehicle, and (more in my line) any future landing sites. I imagine we will be seeing landings at one or both poles, since they are clearly high priorities, but I hope we will see missions to other locations as well. I would like to see a rover mission to D-Caldera (AKA Ina) among other places.

Phil


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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Apr 4 2006, 03:24 AM
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NASA has made it clear that it will land at a polar site to check out the ice deposits -- but the initial grotesquely ambitious plan to land a huge spacecraft based in many respects on the planned CEV lunar lander at the permanently illuminated edge of a crater, and then drive a rover down for dozens of km across the permanently dark interior of the crater to look for ice, has been quietly dumped in the last few months. The plan now is to send down a relatively small lander directly into the darkened area -- and then either dispatch a rover for local studies, or actually have the entire lander use its remaining fuel to hop from place to place on the suface for that surface.

I'm working off memories; it would take me a while to dig up the references, and frankly I don't feel like doing it tonight.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Apr 5 2006, 12:12 PM
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I've dug up some more on this. It turns out I was wrong; they HAVE decided to go for MSFC's huge, hulking lunar lander that will weigh 10,000 kg on launch and 4500 on landing and be able to carry up to 3500 kg payload -- the reason being that they hope to used the same lander design later on as an unmanned resupply lander for human expeditions, "a lunar equivalent of the Russian Progress vehicle". And it will use an RL-10 engine with a 1:10 throttle range. The mission cost is projected at about $750 million.

There's still quite a lot of flexibility in the details -- but the landing site, at least, seems to have been pretty firmly settled on: a 1 x 5 km eternally sunlit spot on the rim of Shackleton Crater near the south pole, which is about as rugged as the Apollo 16 landing site. The crater itself, whose permanently dark slopes seem to run to a maximum of about 30-35 degrees, will likely be explored by a rover dispatched from the lander and based generally on the Apollo rover design, which seems capable of handling such slopes -- although it's possible that a propulsive hopper may be substituted. The rover will use RTGs to recharge batteries for peak loads (although it's possible that the RTGs will recharge fuel cells instead, since there's a desire to use this mission to test as much of the manned-landing paraphernalia as possible), and it will navigate in the dark using high-resolution lidar, as we thought. Its main function will be not only to look for water ice and other frozen volatiles in the soil, but to actually test the ability to extract them from the soil and turn the water into usable H2 and O2.

Meanwhile, the main lander -- which will use a descent camera and scanning lidar to create a very detailed map of its landing area for possible later use by manned crews -- will also run some experiments having to do with the general mechanical consistency and overall composition of the local soil, and it will also carry the first navigation beacon for the guidance of later manned crews to the same spot. It will also likely carry some biological experiments to test the effects of prolonged 1/6 G (and lunar-level radiation) on living things -- and, since all this will still leave it and the rover with a huge unused payload capability, they will likely carry some experiments paid for by commercial businesses, and maybe even a little equipment such as solar arrays for the later use of manned expeditions. Finally, the decision has been made to have the craft release a comsat/navsat into a 2000-km polar orbit before landing to allow constant contact of both the lander and the rover with Earth -- and that excess payload capacity could allow it to carry as many as 3 additional such satellites to complete the network needed for manned expeditions.

Where'd I find all this out? Well, partly from RLEP-2's very preliminary official webpage ( http://sms.msfc.nasa.gov/vp40.html ), Aviation Week's November article ( http://www.aviationnow.com/avnow/news/chan...s/LUNA11155.xml ), and Doug Cooke's december letter announcing the initial choices made about the mission ( http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=18919 ) -- but mostly from the very helpful DigitalSpace page on the October LEAG-SSR Conference ( http://www.digitalspace.com/presentations/leag-ssr-2005/ ), and its links both to Mark Borkowski and Paul Spudis' talks on the mission ( http://www.digitalspace.com/presentations/...kowski-rlep.mp3 ; http://www.digitalspace.com/presentations/...dis-rlep-qa.mp3 ), and to some of their slides ( http://www.digitalspace.com/presentations/...lep2/index.html ). Unfortunately, there's no slide of the rover's strawman payload -- but one abstract at this year's STAIF conference mentions in passing that the "RESOLVE" package has been already selected as one of RLEP-2's experiments (which must be on the rover), and there's a nice description of that included in http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/leag2005/.../01_sanders.pdf (pg. 19-21).

And that's all I've been able to dig up so far. How much of this -- if any -- will actually fly, God knows; but they do seem to have a firm idea at this point of what they want to do at an absolute minimum.
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Phil Stooke
post Apr 5 2006, 12:35 PM
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Thanks for this, Bruce. Very nice.

The landing area would be in the region I illustrated in this post:

http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.p...ype=post&id=640

(the big black circle is Shackleton crater).

Phil


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Jim from NSF.com
post Apr 6 2006, 07:08 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Apr 5 2006, 08:12 AM) *
they HAVE decided to go for MSFC's huge, hulking lunar lander that will weigh 10,000 kg on launch and 4500 on landing and be able to carry up to 3500 kg payload -- the reason being that they hope to used the same lander design later on as an unmanned resupply lander for human expeditions, And it will use an RL-10 engine with a 1:10 throttle range.


The use of LH2 and LO2 will cause issues for whom ever flies this lander. Launch pads are not set up to supply cryos to spacecraft. Add a couple more $100M for pad mods. I doubt it will fly on a CLV since it will need an3rd stage
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dvandorn
post Apr 7 2006, 04:37 PM
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Hiya, Jim.

No, this thing wouldn't fly on a CLV -- the stick isn't big enough for it. Remember, this is an unmanned version of the LSAM. It will need to fly on the Shuttle-derived heavy lift booster that will, in the manned flight profile, launch the LSAM and TLI stage. In these unmanned landings, they'll just go ahead and fire the TLI stage without waiting for a CEV to come up and man the thing.

That's why these unmanned landings will have such a cargo surplus -- they'll be flying, alone, with all the post-LEO delta-V available to manned mission, but without the additional mass of a lunar CEV and crew.

-the other Doug


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Jim from NSF.com
post Apr 7 2006, 05:00 PM
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Then this is not going to fly before the LSAM, because it fly on the first two missions of the CaLV
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dvandorn
post Apr 7 2006, 05:13 PM
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Yep -- if Bruce's information is correct, then this is the unmanned LSAM concept. It makes a great deal of sense; if you're going to develop an infrastructure, you ought to take as much advantage as possible of economics of scale. Use the same design over and over.

With that specification for the lander mass, I can't imagine anything else that could get it onto the Moon other than the CaLV.

-the other Doug


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Jim from NSF.com
post Apr 7 2006, 05:40 PM
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I don't see happening until the LSAM contractor is selected and its design completed.
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PhilHorzempa
post Apr 7 2006, 08:06 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Apr 5 2006, 09:12 AM) *
I've dug up some more on this. It turns out I was wrong; they HAVE decided to go for MSFC's huge, hulking lunar lander that will weigh 10,000 kg on launch and 4500 on landing and be able to carry up to 3500 kg payload -- the reason being that they hope to used the same lander design later on as an unmanned resupply lander for human expeditions, "a lunar equivalent of the Russian Progress vehicle". And it will use an RL-10 engine with a 1:10 throttle range. The mission cost is projected at about $750 million.


and to some of their slides ( http://www.digitalspace.com/presentations/...lep2/index.html .




If you check out the slides that Bruce has thoughtfully posted, especially the link that I've
included above, then you will notice that it appears that NASA is planning to launch RLEP-2
with an EELV. In particular, check out the 15th image of a slide, at
(http://www.digitalspace.com/presentations/leag-ssr-2005/rlep2/DSC09736.JPG)

The image is a bit fuzzy, but it does appear that launch is accomplished using an EELV.
If that is true, then RLEP-2 can launch at any time, without waiting for the development
of the CLV or the CaLV. in addition, if you browse through the slides, you will notice that
the RLEP-2 is big, but it is NOT an unmanned version of the LSAM, even though it does
provide a testbed for the RL-10 on a lunar lkanding mission. Therefore, the RLEP-2
does NOT have to wait for the development of the LSAM.

Another Phil
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Jim from NSF.com
post Apr 8 2006, 02:04 PM
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QUOTE (Jim from NSF.com @ Apr 6 2006, 03:08 PM) *
The use of LH2 and LO2 will cause issues for whom ever flies this lander. Launch pads are not set up to supply cryos to spacecraft. Add a couple more $100M for pad mods. I doubt it will fly on a CLV since it will need an3rd stage


As I said before, use of an RL-10 will cause headaches for whomever flys it. More than an RTG.
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Bob Shaw
post Apr 8 2006, 03:44 PM
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Perhaps the vehicle is already built, as the Blue Origin sub-orbital hopper is said to be based on the flown DC-X design. Just remove the aeroshell! Remember too that one of the new NASA challenges is for a lunar landing analogue vehicle.

DC-X Propellants: Liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Propulsion: Four RL-10A5 rocket engines, each generating 6,100 kgf thrust. Each engine throttleable from 30% to 100%. Each gimbals +/-8 degrees. Reaction Controls: Four 440-lb thrust gaseous oxygen, gaseous hydrogen thrusters

See the URL below for absolutely no information whatsoever on Blue Origin:

http://www.blueorigin.com/index.html

Bob Shaw
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Jim from NSF.com
post Apr 8 2006, 08:31 PM
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Maybe so, but there still is no vehicle able to launch it
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Apr 8 2006, 09:09 PM
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What it's supposed to be -- according to Mark Borkowski's talk ( http://www.digitalspace.com/presentations/...kowski-rlep.mp3 ) -- is a vehicle which can later be used, with little modification, as an emergency cargo carrier for any VSE crew that gets stranded on the Moon for a long period of time due to a stand-down of the manned VSE systems. That is, it is -- as he said -- " a lunar equivalent of the Russian Progress cargo carrier", capable of landing as much as 3.5 metric tons of payload on the Moon. Since RLEP-2's official payload is only about a ton, there are currently plans to request additional payloads on it provided by private companies -- as well as consideration of having it carry some equipment to the Moon in advance for the first manned expedition to Shakleton Crater.

HOWEVER; I'm also hearing fuzzy rumors that the current RLEP-2 project is in serious trouble -- which I'll hold off on until I have some details.
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Bob Shaw
post Apr 8 2006, 09:14 PM
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If there's an impactor mission using the Raytheon proposal, then it may take elements of their previously (allegedly successful) kinetic energy kill vehicle. I've cobbled together a graphic using elements from the Raytheon company site to give an idea of the vehicle - it's got an interesting take on attitude control/translation with rocket nozzles set, I presume, around the vehicle's CG.

Bob Shaw
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