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ESAS + COTS + AresX moon missions
NASA seems BELIEVE that COTS companies will succeed in their effort to develop, build and launch low cost rockets and capsules, since has already given them $500M of funds, has opened the doors of its research centers, has included the COTS service in its flights manifest and will soon allow the COTS companies (first SpaceX) to launch their rockets from KSC.
Since each manned COTS launch is aimed to cost in the range of $100M (rather than $600M of a Shuttle launch or $1.3 billion of an orbital Orion launch) many peoples suggest (and I'm one of them) to use ONLY the COTS and other low cost vehicles (like Digital-Soyuz, Progress, ACTS, ATV, etc.) for all orbital/ISS mission and invest ALL the ESAS/VSE funds and hardware (like the Orion) ONLY for moon missions!
But, also with this tasks division (COTS for orbital/ISS and Orion/Ares for moon missions) the ESAS plan STILL needs TWO rockets too much funds and over 15 years to land on the moon around 2020 (or, probably, after 2022, if we add other, possible, delays).
So, my new idea is: "Why don't MERGE (both) ESAS and COTS vehicles (also) for moon missions?"
That choice needs to build a bigger rocket ("AresX") to launch (at least) 150 mT of payload to LEO (15% more than AresV) but has a very long list of advantages!
1. NO NEED to develop and build TWO new rockets but just ONE: the AresX.
2. NO NEED to develop and build the Ares-I saving over $7 billion (+ inflation and cost growt) of R&D costs!
3. NO NEED to develop and build a new and COSTLY (over $3 billion of R&D costs) 5-segments SRB but use ONLY the (true Shuttle-derived, ready available and cheap!) STANDARD 4-segments SRB (in the EXPENDABLE version) for the AresX (with three/four SRB and four/five RS-68).
4. NO NEED to spend over $500M per year for the SRB retrieval saving over $5.5 billion (+ inflation) in 2015-2025.
5. NO NEED to develop, test and build the BIG and RISKY tower-LAS (Launch Abort System).
6. NO NEED to man-rate the RS-68 since the AresX will always be launched unmanned (or cargo-only).
7. NO NEED to modify and support two different launch pads but just ONE (or TWO but having the advantage of a full backup launch pad if the first will be damaged).
8. NO NEED to buy the (expensive) 5-segments SRB for the AresX (saving $1.5 billion + inflation in 2015-2025).
9. NO NEED to buy the (expensive) Ares-I hardware for moon missions saving another $billion in 2015-2025 (but not more, since, part of the money saved, must be spent for the manned COTS flights).
10. NO NEED to spend over $800M per year for the earth support & assembly of the Ares-I (saving up to $10 billion + inflation in 2015-2025).
11. NO NEED to launch the Orion/Ares-I for orbital/ISS missions (saving over $15 billion + inflation in 2015-2020) but use ONLY the cheaper COTS, Soyuz, ATV, Progress and other private vehicles (like the planned Bigelow-LockMart "tourists capsule" to be launched with a man-rated AtlasV).
12. NO NEED to lose LOTS of billion$$$ with many failed moon missions due to a "sum-of-delays" of the (Ares-I + Ares-V) 1.5 launche architecture!
13. NO NEED to risk (too much) the astronauts lives launching them with too big and too uncontrollable solid propellent rockets like Ares-I, AresIV and AresV.
14. NO NEED to wait until 2020 (or, most probably, after 2022, due to further ESAS delays) to see the first (new) moon landing since, thanks to a SINGLE rocket to build and DOZENS billion$$$ saved the first moon mission should happen in 2015 or sooner!
15. NO NEED to launch more AresV for orbital and/or lunar big cargo, since the AresX will be able to launch BIGGER orbital/ISS/probes/telescopes/Moon/Mars payloads (like a BIGGER cargo-LSAM).
16. NO NEED to ask for funds to launch more moon missions, since, thanks to a SINGLE rocket to build (and DOZENS billion$$$ saved) the SAME (promised) ESAS/VSE funds will be sufficient for TWICE the moon missions (and SOONER) than planned to-day, then (maybe) up to THREE missions per year in 2015-2025 (or up to 25-30 missions in total) rather than just a dozen (2 per year) in 2020-2025 or later!!!
Also (in future) if and when the AresX will be evidenced as very reliable, the same rocket could be used as Single Launch Vehicle just man-rating the RS-68 and making a few changes (like adding a LAS) saving (also) the (small) price of the COTS service!
May 20 - 2007
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Copyright © 2007 Gaetano Marano - All rights reserved - base images used for the drawings are © NASA