Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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)

Two SLS launch vehicles with 10 meter payload fairings. The vehicle to the left will be able to deploy at least 70 tonnes of payload to LEO. The vehicle to the right with its  EUS upper stage will be able to deploy up to 105 tonnes to orbit (Credit NASA). 

by Marcel F. Williams

Part 1: NASA & the DOD

Establishing a permanent human presence on the surface of the Moon is the most  expedient and economical way to eventually  establish a similar permanent human presence on the surface of  Mars. But as  long as NASA continues to spend $3 to $4 billion a year on its big LEO program (the ISS), it is doubtful that the American space agency can adequately  fund its beyond LEO efforts--  without a significant increase in its annual human spaceflight related budget. 

So under this scenario, the ISS program is continued. But starting in 2019,  an additional $3 billion is added to NASA's human spaceflight related budget by the DOD (Department of Defense).  In exchange,  NASA will be committed towards eventually deploying  microgravity and artificial gravity habitats, and lunar and martian surface outpost for the exclusive use and occupation by DOD personal. And such habitats will be derived from similar habitats used my NASA or the private space industries.   

Under this scenario,  DOD funding would also require NASA to provide military astronauts with access to LEO through private commercial spacecraft  and to its beyond LEO habitats either through NASA or private spacecraft.  

So for less than  0.6% ($3 billion) of the annual DOD budget, the ISS program and NASA's beyond LEO program could both be adequately funded while also enabling  DOD personal to have a permanent strategic  presence within cis-lunar space and eventually on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars.

Private American commercial space companies and their astronauts and paying customers will soon  be joining NASA and foreign space agency personal in the New Frontier. So it will be  important for  US companies to know that their investments, hired  personal, and their paying customers will be protected from possible intimidation and coercion from  foreign governments and other hostile organizations. 

The DODs role in space would, therefore, be similar to the role that the US Coast Guard has in America's territorial waters on Earth. And this should prevent  private companies from having to spend money developing  their own private space defense forces  in order to protect their property and personal in space from the  potential hostile  interest from potentially  hostile strategic  competitors such as China and Russia. 

Positions of the Earth-Moon Lagrange Points (Credit: Maccone)

A DOD Earth-Moon Lagrange point presence at EML3, EML4, and EML5 would allow the US military to deposit, protect, and to quickly deploy backup satellites in case US satellites of strategic importance are seriously damaged by terrorist or a hostile foreign power. 

DOD habitats could also be a place for emergency refuge and medical treatment for DOD and NASA astronauts, personal and customers from private space agencies, and for personal from foreign space agencies. So the first extraterrestrial sickbays and hospitals in the New Frontier might be operated by the DOD. So military physicians and nurses might be an important part of the military personal deployed to  all extraterrestrial  habitats under the control of the DOD.

In  2018, Russia intends to charge NASA  $81 million for each NASA astronaut transported too and from the ISS  aboard Russian launch vehicles and spacecraft. Additional funding for NASA's beyond LEO efforts could also come from charging foreign space agencies $150 million for each foreign astronaut participating in a NASA beyond LEO mission.  This could save NASA at least $150 million or more, depending on how many foreign astronauts are allowed to participate in a  beyond LEO mission. NASA could also allow foreign astronauts participating in a mission to the Moon or Mars to  eventually return  to the Earth with up to 10 kilograms  of material retrieved from the lunar or martian surface for their  own space agency's (an absolute bargain) that also helps to reduce NASA's recurring cost for  human missions.  

Part II of this article (The Moon) 

Marcel F. Williams

Links and References

The Case for a US Miltary Presence at LEO and Beyond

Declassified: U.S. Military's Secret Cold War Space Project Revealed (Newly released documents describe the U.S. Air Force's secret cold war project known as the Manned Orbiting Laboratory)


NASA is paying Russia more than $70 million to bring an astronaut home in this spaceship tonight


Unknown said...

Just a quick interesting bit- the 70t quoted number for block 1 subtracts the ICPS. The throw capability of the core+boosters is closer to ~95 tons to LEO! http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/sls0.html

Marcel F. Williams said...

Thanks for your input Nathan!

I agree, that the 70 tonne capability for the Block 1 is likely to be its minimum payload capability. So a 90 tonnes plus capability for the SLS Block I would not surprise me.


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