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Europe on the Moon with the ArianeX
Despite the European countries have many excellent aerospace companies, engineers and scientists, Europe never had its own manned space program.
That's clearly due to political, bureaucratic, nationalistic and economical reasons (and the problems to find accords between too many, different, countries), but I think the main reason was (and is) that European countries and governments have had (and have) fear to do it!
They have fear to fail, they have fear their manned vehicles don't work well (at least) like the American, Russian and (now) Chinese do, they have fear of their public opinion if the European astronauts dies on a European vehicle or (worst!) their astronauts may need an "internationl rescue" to come back to Earth alive, with the Europe get ridiculized worldwide... then, they ("we", I'm European) prefer to launch their astronauts only with American and Russian vehicles, so, "if something goes wrong", they will have not blame of the fail.
But, if the European countries and governments will become brave... can they (we) start a manned space program to Earth orbit, moon, mars and beyond?
My answer is: "yes, we can"!
I explain here a (possible) plan for an European (and International) manned exploration of the Moon made implementing ready available European rockets and space technologies and that may need a "reasonable" amount of funds (not so high like the VSE/ESAS funds).
The ONLY way to accomplish the European moon missions without giant and very expensive rockets and vehicles, is to adopt the "Multiple Launches Architecture" (MLA) that is... launch all the vehicles/hardware DIRECTLY to the Moon (without any Earth orbit wait/dockings/rendez-vous!) with many (separate) launches of a mid-cost "European Launch Vehicle" (ELV), able to lift 80+ mT of payload+EDS each.
The faster and most efficient way to send the vehicles and hardware to the moon, is the "bullet-like" launch, with the 2nd-stage/EDS that points immediately towards the moon to reach the TLI escape speed a few minutes after the lift-off, without perform any Earth orbits nor "restart" its engine.
To save time and money ESA must develop and build only ONE model of rocket, for all purposes, made with the ready available, cheap and reliable "Ariane5-derived" tecnologies and hardware.
The European "moon rocket" must lift much more payload than Ariane5 (18 mT max) or the ArianeM "concept" (a 40 mT payload rocket made with the Ariane5 core and four EAP boosters) and the faster, easy and cheaper way is to build the "ArianeX" (where "X" stands for "TEN" engines) that may cost about $400M per launch.
The ArianeX 1st stage needs four EAP solid boosters and up to five Vulcain-2 liquid engines, with a larger (10-12 mt. diameter) main tank, the 2nd stage may use one (modified) Vulcain-2 (or a better engine); the max ArianeX payload to LEO (and for a "moon-direct" launch) must be around 80 mT.
"How ESA may accomplish its manned moon missions/landings without a big rocket like the CaLV"?
They right way is to proceed step-by-step with reusable lunar vehicles/hardware and a reliable Multiple Launches Architecture like this:
1. Start now to develop and build the cargo-ELV to be ready within 2009 for the first test launches.
2. Start now to design the moon missions' architecture and to develop and build the lunar vehicles and hardware: the expendable "European Crew Vehicle" (ECV) with its Service Module (SM), the reusable "European Landing Module" (ELM) + its expendable cargo version and the "European Crew Habitat" (ECH); a good idea (to have more experience and better technologies) is to develop the ECV/SM and ELM/ECM with Russia, China and the American company (Boeing or LockMart) that will lose the NASA's CEV competition.
3. When the ELV and the cargo-ELM will be ready (around 2012), ESA must starts to build its first "European Moon Base" (EMB) with three ArianeX launches to send on the moon two (indipendent) ECH (each ECH must have 6+ months of life support for 4+ astronauts and a 20+ years life-cycle, with re-supply, like the ISS' modules, to be used for normal/long exploration time and for emergency) and the "heavy" lunar exploration & science hardware (lunar-SUVs, lunar-Segways, solar panels, work & repair tools, experiments, spare parts, instruments, extra life support, etc.), 100% reusable for the next 10+ manned moon missions.
4. The next step will be the launch of two-three (20+ times reusable!!) remote-controlled (from Earth/ECV/Moon) crew-ELM sent unmanned, one ELM on the moon (near the EMB) and two in a parking orbit around the moon (waiting for the first ECV); the ELM must be built to work 10+ years and wait in stand-by for months without any re-supply (with an orbital solar-panel energy module) and must re-fuel its engines with cellular-batteries-like "fuel/tanks-cartridges", also, it must land on the moon (and depart from it) with different cargo+crew (or cargo-only/crew-only) payloads (for a total of 3+ mT of cargo and up to 4 astronauts per landing/departure) for different purposes/missions.
5. The last step to start the "European Moon Missions" (EMM) will be the launch (in 2013-15) of the first manned ECV with 4 astronauts (but the ECV may have different cargo/crew configurations for different missions); the ECV must be remote-controlled, with 6+ months stand-by life, 20+ days life support and will be launched with a man-rated "standart" ArianeX and 20+ mT of extra-payload to send the "mission specific" exploration & science hardware and/or ECH re-supply (for the EMB) and many "fuel/tanks-cartridges" for the three (or more) ELM for multiple landings/missions of the 4+ astronauts to the EMB or to different landings' sites to explore!
Another (very good!) idea may be to build a little single-module ISS-like lunar space station to dock the ECV and ELM (with its spare "fuel/tanks cartridges") and extra (orbital) life support (good for standard missions or emergency); the "European Lunar Station" (ELS) may have many different dockings' hatches for many European ECV and ELM and, also, for the lunar-Soyuz or Shenzhou and for the CEV (to accomplish some European/American moon missions from 2020+ when NASA will ends to build its two big rockets and will starts to launch its new moon missions...)
Each crew may accomplish many moon missions before they come back to Earth (not only ONE per launch, like with the ESAS plan!) and each mission will be with 2, 3, 4 (or more) astronauts and many ECV and crew+cargo/cargo-only ELM, also, the lenght of a mission may vary from days, to weeks, to months with an INCREDIBLE QUANTITY of landings/time/missions/exploration/science/results in a few years and a fraction of the VSE costs!!!
May 27 - 2006
>>>>>> If you talk/discuss of my ArianeX idea on space forums/blogs/websites/magazines/articles please refer to the source of the idea and/or put a link to this article. Thank You. <<<<<<<<<<
Copyright © 2006 Gaetano Marano - All rights reserved - The base images used for the drawings are © ESA