Cislunar-1000 and Bigelow Aerospace – Space Pod 04/20/16

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In this Space Pod we discuss Bigelow Aerospace and their new partnership with ULA, and what it means for an ambitious plan to create a self sustaining space economy.

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  1. DougSpace on April 25, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Lots of stuff in this Space Pod to consider.

    Every element of the strategy should be assessed as to whether it will burden budgets or lower costs. In other words…sustainability.

    XBASE will consume national budgets and the likelihood of commercial profitability is pretty uncertain at this point. So there is a real danger there. This is especially true for any EML station. A lot of money could be spent rotating crew there. That’s less money for development. And the calculations indicate that we don’t actually need an EML base to get to the Moon. Direct dockings between lunar landers and vehicles from Earth results in more payload delivery.

    LEO habs will burden national space budgets however will likely have significant tourism. So they should be judged on that basis and their national research should be limited to the essentials for space development instead of every cool project that comes to mind.

    LEO depots should be assessed by their absolute need. Solar electric propulsion (SEP) is so efficient in shipping stuff (e.g. GEO satellites) that chemical tugs may or may not be the most cost-effective approach. SEP might also make more challenging the case for the mining of asteroids for chemical propellant. Critical analysis needed.

    The Xeus lunar lander is absolutely key to low-cost access to the lunar surface. It should cost less to develop than the Falcon 9 (no staging, max-Q, or main engine development). A public-private (aka “Lunar COTS”) approach should be used. It could use lunar-derived propellant tripling the payload delivery to the lunar surface per launch and with reusability, it could achieve human-rating with few launches. Apollo-scale exploration (i.e. six locations) could be done by refueling the lander and doing suborbital hops) at way, way less cost.

    If surface habitats were to be used only for geologic expeditions then this would consume budgets without lowering costs. But if they were used to support the harvesting and processing of ice into propellant then that would dramatically reduce the cost of accessing the planetary surfaces. But let’s first send telerobots to the Moon to try and produce propellant that way.

    We already have enough information about radiation shielding and microgravity to do a 589-day Mars flyby. So we don’t actually need more LEO research to take the first step to Mars. And later research in prep for long-duration Martian stays (e.g. artificial gravity Rx) could be done on the Moon.

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