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   The LSAM+Shenzhou "cheap" alternative   

All past and new world’s “space-powers” (USA Russia, China and ESA) have announced or will announce their plans to come back to moon to explore it. I think that it’s a bad idea to leave or reduce near all space plans to spend all the money and efforts for a new moonrace, but, if so many countries want to go on the moon, a VERY GOOD IDEA may be DON’T DUPLICATE many times the same moon missions with only some different flags... I suggest (and I hope) that all world’s space power may cooperate to obtain MORE RESULTS with LESS COSTS and in LESS TIME!!! This can be done using many good technologies from many countries (like I propose here with a possible alternative to the CEV/SM/CLV/LSAM configuration of VSE plan). My idea is SIMPLY to build a LSAM with TWO capsule-port and use TWO Shenzhou instead of one new CEV/SM with MANY advantages!!!

It’s possible to use two Shenzhou or two Soyuz because both was designed for trans-lunar travels and direct earth re-entry (like the Apollo), so, they may need only some changes to accomplish the LSAM docking and a complete moon mission (with a remote control for LSAM docking after lunar departure), also, they don’t need to use their engines to entry in lunar orbit, since NASA claims that LSAM will use its engines for this job (a feature that will be usefull to send on the moon some cargo-only LSAM without CEV and with up to 22 tons payloads!) . Both Shenzou and Soyuz can be used for that purpose, but Shenzhou is better, thanks to many upgrade made from original Soyuz design, 15% more internal space, a modern designed rocket, etc. The two capsules must be used only for the (one week) earth-moon-earth travel so its internal space (orbital module + descent module) is sufficient (but unnecessary, since, the four astronauts, can live in the giant LSAM module in the earth-moon travel). Both capsules are made for three astronauts, so, the same space can be used for two astronauts each and a total “payload” of 400 lbs. for moonsamples; the space for moonsamples on the CEV will be not so much! Thanks to its low weight (the total weight of two Shenzhou is around 15 tons. while the lunarCEV/SM will be up to 23 tons) the LSAM may have up to 8 tons of “extra-payload” that can be used for extra life support and/or more “hardware” for experiments and moon exploration, so, the duration of each moon mission, may be up to four times the single (poor) “week” planned to-day with CEV/SM! The twin-capsule solution is better also for astronauts’ safety on reentry, because, in case of problems with one of capsules, half crew will remain alive while, with CEV, the entire crew will die if something goes wrong on reentry!!! The main critic of this solution may be that, using Shenzhou, USA can’t have a total control on the manned space vehicle, but, if China wants to “kill” the american and european economy, don’t need to leave them without Shenzhous... it’s sufficient that China will stop to build or sell notebooks, PCs, motherboards, RAMs, CD/DVD drives, etc. etc. since, to-day, 50 to 80% of these products (VITAL FOR OUR ECONOMY) are “made in China”, where workforce cost is very low! But, if USA wants to be “space-indipendent”, may use the same idea (with all its advantages!!), building a little 2-seats, 4 mt., 8 tons CEV/SM, that may be launched with ready available and low cost rockets like TitanIV!

1. The first (and, I think, most important!) advantage of this solution is international cooperation! If moon will become the target of a new race against peoples and countries, we will not see any scientific advantages for the human life and knowlendge but only a technological and commercial “war”, that in future may become a TRUE WAR for the conquest and possession of the moon. Many cruel wars in story was made for nothing!

2. Another INCREDIBLE advantage is the GIANT money saving! Despite NASA claim of $10 billion total cost to develop both CEV/SM and CLV, the real cost may be over $25 billion, so, since CEV test/orbital/lunar flights will be less than 25 in 2012-2025, the cost of each CEV-SM-CLV launch may be around $1.5-2 billion (including the “hardware”) while one Shenzhou (including rocket and support) costs less than $110 million!! Since each moon mission will need two Shenzhou, the total money saving for each moon mission may be over $1.5 billion! Also, instead of sell them, China may give FREE all the Shenzhou capsules with rocket and support for all moon missions to have 5% of moon mission astronauts (only one chinese astronaut every two-three moon missions).

3. The GIANT money saved with this solution (around $25-35 billion!) can be used to send MORE missions on the moon (three-four per year instead of two) or MORE experiments and moon exploration time or MORE cargo sent on the moon, to build a lunar base, or MORE research to develop the “hardware” for MARS missions, etc.

4. The TIME saved can be used to reduce the development time (and costs) of SDLV/LSAM, so, the first moon mission may be in 2012-2015 instead of 2018-2022! And each mission may “produce” more with cooperation!

December 3 - 2005

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