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   VME - Vision for Moonrovers Exploration   

I am very critic about VSE moon missions because I think that, on the moon, there is nothing important to  explorethat worth the time, cost, and risks of other manned missions. But, since something of interesting may be, I suggest to explore the moon NOW with dozens of rovers instead (or before) the new manned missions. A few moon rovers are already planned (to search the future landing sites for “LEM-2”) but my proposal is to multiply 100 times the number of exploration’s rovers planned, to explore the ENTIRE moon surface (and both near side and far side) inch by inch!!! The rovers may be “standardized” so their unit cost will be very low, also, year by year, we can send better and bigger rovers able to take samples of rocks (on surface and under it), catalog them, save in a sort of rover’s luggage and leave in some defined moon places, where, some special vehicles, can bring back to earth them, for scientific analysis. With that tecnology we can send on the moon all the instruments we need for in situ research: spectrograph, very high resolution 3D cameras for visible and invisible light, special experiments, etc. With to-day technology we can do everything we want! The ADVANTAGES of VME are SO MANY that (certainly) I forget some of them here!!!

1... The FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT advantage of VME is that it is COMPLETELY RISKLESS for human life! The 10 Apollo missions was gone well and all astronauts come back to earth alive, with only one big risk in the Apollo 13 mission. But, with VSE, the number of missions, astronauts per mission, duration and complexity will increase very much, so, the risk to fail one or more moon missions is very high! With Apollo, was ONE on TEN! Of course, ALL space missions will have an high risk, but that risks are acceptable (and accepted) if we have really great scientific and human progress from space exploration! My opinion is that, some “moon-rocksdon’t worth the risks of manned missions expecially since moonrovers can do the job 1000 times better! Also, don’t forget the risks for astronauts due to micrometeorites and the intense radiation of sun flares!

2... The MAIN advantage of VME is that, science and people, will have GREATER results 10+ YEARS BEFORE manned missions! The first VSE moon mission is planned for 2018 but complex plans like this NEVER respect the planned times, so, the first moon mission, will be in 2020-2022. In any case (scientists and people) must wait 13 to 17 years to have the “new” moon-rocks! With a COMPLETE and SYSTEMATIC moon-rovers’ exploration we will know EVERYTHING about moon 10 years before the first manned mission! This is an advantage also for manned missions (if will be), because they can land only where is something interesting (of course, “IF” on the moon there is “something...). It’s an incredible time saving! We must wait 15 (fifteen!!!!) years for the first VSE moon landing, while, moonrovers can be send on the moon within next 2-3 years and continue to explore the moon for 10+ years! That may be a good news also for people and space enthusiasts because they don’t need to wait a very long time to see again moon images! Without moonrovers, we can see only the old and mid-quality Apollo’s pictures and movies, since optical telescopes can’t make better moon images from earth (not even Hubble with its 100 meters max resolution). With dozens moonrovers, we can see NEW moon 3D images within a few years the entire world’s population may follow rovers exploration in real time via internet, and with 3D LCD VISION GLASSES, we will see the surface like we REALLY ARE on the moon!!!! So far, only 12 astronauts have had the privilege to see the moon in 3D and a few other will have it in 2020.

3... Another GREAT advantage of moonrovers vs. LEM2 is the GIANT MONEY SAVING. The VSE plan (only for moon missions!) will need $104 billion that, probably, will become 150-200B when the new missions will start! With moonrovers the total cost of the ENTIRE moon exploration may be a few billion because rovers can be made with ready available technology and at a very low cost using standardization! Probably, each rover will cost under $30 million (not billion) including the mid-rocket for its launch on the moon! Also, since rovers are little and very light, we can send on the moon 5-10 rovers a time with a single heavy rocket! In the next 10 years we can send 200+ rovers on the moon with a total cost of $4 billion including rockets!!! NASA will save over $100 billion because moonrovers will explore 100% of moon surface and rocks, so, in 2020 NASA will make only a few manned moon missions and only if there will be some VERY important discoveries made with rovers (like the “2001 Space Odyssey monolith...), that need human presence, or (better!!!!) will use the giant $100 billion VSE budget for USEFULL missions and research: new spacecrafts, new engines for long space travels, a better space station, 10+ times more interplanetary probes and planet exploration’s rovers, a bigger space telescope (to discover the secrets of the universe and see extra-solar planets), and, research for spaceplanes, sub-orbital commercial (mach 3 +) airplanes and to increase airline safety, etc. If NASA don’t use the extra-budget only for “moon-rocks”, all the futuristic space projects and vehicles (so far, only in the mind and “paper” of scientists and engineers) may become real! And, since moonrovers cost is very low and will falls very much in next years, many other countries, private companies, universities and research laboratories will be perfectly able to build and launch on the moon some special, sophisticated and up-to-date moonrovers!

4... The list of moonrovers advantages continue with the incredible difference of time and space explored with moonrovers compared with LEM2 exploration in 2020!!! In 2020-2025 the total number of new missions will be around 15-20, two missions per year in 2020, that may grow to four missions per year in the last years. Each mission will remain only a week on the moon. With only 15-20 missions, at 8 exploration hours per day (excluding the time lost with LunarSUV travels, etc.), the TOTAL MOON’S EXPLORATION TIME (of the entire VSE-moon plan!) in 2020-2025 will be around 500 moon’s exploration hours (in total!) at a cost of $200+ million per moon exploration hour!!! While, the entire moonrovers exploration plan, may cost a few billions in total with a cost of less than $500 per moon exploration hour!!!! Moonrovers may explore 24 hour a day and 365 day per year (exploring moon following the sun light) then, 200+ rovers in 10+ years and 8760 hours per year is a total moon’s exploration time up to 20,000,000 hours!!!!! 20,000,000 moon exploration hours at only $500 per hour instead of 500 manned and risky moon exploration hours at over $200 million per hour! 400,000 times more money per hour! Also the exploration time of moonrovers will be incredibly better than LEM2 missions. In 10+ years, the moonrovers’ fleet will explore the ENTIRE moon surface while the exploration of ALL manned missions will be only a little more than past Apollo missions. Each mission will remain twice the time on the moon with twice the crew of Apollo missions and a better LunarSUV. But this will not increase so much the exploration time because the LunarSUV can’t go too speed on the moon (for gravity and risks), so the astronauts must explore only in the 10-20 miles range if don’t want to waste great part of exploration time travelling on the moon! Also, they can’t go too away from LEM2 because, if the LunarSUV will be damaged or stops work, they must come back to LEM2 walking (then may risk to die if the oxygen’s reserve will end!). That reasons will reduce very much the (already scarce) moon exploration time/space of a manned mission! About moonrovers, the giant number of explorations hour available will give the opportunity to explore and research for thousands scientists that may program or drive (in real time!) the rovers’ travels, exploration and experiments from NASA control centres or (also) from their home with a fast internet connection! In the mean time, the rest of the world (students, universities, industries, space enthusiasts, etc.) will follow all the explorations in real time via internet and may find something interesting (not seen by rovers’ scientists).

5... Probably some may say that “human exploration’s quality” is better than “rovers quality” and that “humans” can do “things that rovers can’t”. This is true on earth because here we have millions scientists and research people, with billions dollars, labs, buildings, millions tons of instruments and “hardware” and all the time we want and need (generally many years!) for each research! The moon’s exploration is completely different because in a few days, a few hours per day, with so many risks, working with the spacesuit and high working stress, the purpose and results may be very poor in respect of research on earth. Then, the moonrovers’ exploration will be much better than LEM2 manned exploration! It’s hard to walk and work with a spacesuit and moon’s reduced gravity, it’s hard to see details with the dazzle lunar light due to the absence of atmosphere, and, for the same reason, it’s very difficult to watch and explore where there is no light, with lunar’s razor sharpen shadows, etc. Moonrovers’ exploration quality will be LOTS BETTER than human exploration, not only for the great time and space explored! Moonrovers’ “eyes” may have a better resolution than human eyes without the problems with dark and light, can see in detail like a microscope, away like a binocular and light frequencies human eyes can’t see, all moonrovers’ images will be seen in real time with the eyes of millions people (not only one astronaut!) and recorded, so, each detail will be seen many times, magnifyed, processed, etc. Moonrovers will have some instruments that, for moon-rocks, may be like computerized blood’s analysis is for health! No “human” can work like similar instruments! And, if you think that on the moon there is something usefull, for space travels & earth (Helium3, water, etc.) you can be SURE that ONLY moonrovers will have the time and instruments to find it!

October 16 - 2005

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