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How to achieve the Lunar X PRIZE...

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:32 am
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How to achieve the Lunar X PRIZE... 
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Space Station Commander
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Post How to achieve the Lunar X PRIZE...   Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:32 am
So, as SpaceX is offering its Falcons with a 10% discount, does it make sense to use another rocket or even develop some on your one?

What about landing on the moon? Rocket-propelled? Airbags? Other solutions?

Roving or flying on the surface of the moon?

What do you think? Put your ideas in here...

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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:38 am
Developing a new rocket would be far more time consuming and expensive. How much does SpaceX charge for a launch? I see this as a two part approach:

1) Launch vehicle
2) Rover design

A mission should be modeled after the Mars rover missions. Given the Moon's lower gravitational force (1/6th of Earth's) A controlled landing would we better than the airbag approach.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:54 am
Rocket Scientist wrote:
How much does SpaceX charge for a launch?


Let me quote Ekkehard Augustin:

Quote:
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of El Segundo, Calif., for example, will give competing teams a 10 percent price reduction on a launch aboard one of its Falcon launch vehicles - identified as "the first preferred launch provider" for the competition in a Google Lunar X Prize press statement released today.

So the competitors will have to pay $ 6.3 mio only for a Falcon 1-launch, $ 7.65 mio for a Falcon 1-launch using a Merlin 1a, $ 31.5 mio for a Falcon 9-launch and $ 81 mio for a Falcon 9 Heavy-launch.

But until 2012/2013 these prices will drop significantly because the present prices don't account for reusability - according to Elon Musk.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 12:48 pm
First, define the mission. What will you attempt to do?

Then design your lander, using as much off the shelf, mass produced proven hardware as possible. Work out how much it weighs.

THEN you can start thinking about an appropriate launch vehicle and earth departure stage. It is unguessable what options will be available by the time you need to make this decision.

I am very prejudiced in favour of attempting to land at Tranquility base, roving up to and around the Apollo 11 hardware, and if there is any flying ability left, hop onto the descent stage and take some panoramic panning shots from up there.

I guess landing an android that can fix up and drive one of the old Apollo rovers would be doing things the hard way.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 3:56 pm
Something came just into my mind: What about flying as a secondary (tertiary) payload on a "normal" mission a bit like SMART-1 was on an Ariane 5 flight?

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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 4:39 pm
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
Something came just into my mind: What about flying as a secondary (tertiary) payload on a "normal" mission a bit like SMART-1 was on an Ariane 5 flight?


Question then will be, and will still be, how heavy and how large can it be. I concur with xiphius you should match the launch vehicle to that what you want to launch, but in this case it is the other way around. Unless you have a big investor who wants a circus stunt, you'll get 'stuck' with the Falcon 1 which won't produce much of a large vehicle, but it should be possible, even if it would just be a 10kg rover, which is rather heavy imo. Check the RC cars, the 1:5 things, or something like that. They don't weigh 10kg.

Let's see what has to be on the rover:
- wheels (dôh);
- electric engine;
- camera;
- solar panel;
- transmitter
- receiver
- heater / insulation for the night;
- casing / protection to keep the dust as much out as possible;
- construction to keep it all together.

Since we don't need a Ferrari rover up there, the electric engine can be very small, if you want some way of shifting, with RC cars you have the automatic shifting gearbox (i think), or they don't need that at all. You may want to add some transmission or gears anyhow, unless you want to get stuck. I think the solarpanel will weigh the most by far, unless you go with the flexible kind of PV panel.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 8:45 pm
The size of payload is probably going to be limited by the budget anyway. My point was that choosing exactly which launch vehicle to use is premature. It is very unlikely that anyone attempting this challenge will try to build anything very big.

Potentially the rover is the smallest part. The descent stage I would guess to be larger. The earth departure stage requirement is, I imagine, somewhat influenced by the exact means of launch.

I wonder if endurance is the riskiest objective, and a short mission limited to battery life would help to acheive a simple and inexpensive design?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:25 am
Ok, for a start: The Sojourner rover of the Mars Pathfinder mission weighed 10.6 kilograms.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:33 am
The Mars Pathfinder page says the rover was 11.5kg. Take away the 2.04kg Atmospheric Structure Instrument/Meteorology Experiment and the 0.74kg Alpha-Proton X-Ray Spectrometer, and you have an 8.72 kg rover.
http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov/MPF/mpf/fact ... #ROVERCHAR

However the rover had no long distance radio link. It just used an off the shelf wireless network adapter to communicate a few meters back the lander which relayed the signal back to Earth. So maybe add back a few kg for the radio and antenna.

The launch mass of Pathfinder was 890 kg, which included a heat shield and parchute, but insufficient rocket power to land on the Moon without aerobraking; and of course that stationary base station with the radio relay and its own camera. Also, the Pathfinder had no Earth departure stage; it got escape velocity directly from its DeltaII rocket. Falcon 1 can put 800kg in LEO, so the lunar vehicle would need to be much lighter, like 400kg or so, to allow the added mass of an Earth departure stage to get out of LEO.
http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov/MPF/mpf/fact ... tml#FSCHAR


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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:13 pm
Regarding alternatives to SpaceX's Falcons - Air Launch LLC's QuickReach will be capable to put 1000 pounds into LEO.

The costs would be $ 5 mio but this is a price targeted by the rules of DARPA's Falcon-program - so the real price per QuickReach might be less than $ 5 mio. Perhaps Virgin Galactic could operate QuickReach's for privates via their WK2 which has been increased for orbital launches.

What about the concept of separate launches for the rover itself and a stage carrying it to the Moon and landing it there?



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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:37 am
A Falcon 1e is capable of putting about 723 kilograms (I'll assume 750 kg) into LEO.

Injection into Lunar Transfer Orbit requires about 3150 m/s of delta-v.

When I take a Thiokol STAR-27-like kickstage (288s Isp, propellant factor of 0.935), the Falcon would be capable of delivering 213 kg to the Moon (although not into Lunar orbit).

These 213 kg would have to be injected into Lunar orbit. The remaining mass landed and a rover deployed. That sounds a bit too much for such a mass.

It's a bit late here, so I haven't calculated the orbit injection and landing yet.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:21 am
Damn...who needs sleep... :lol:

I must correct myself, the payload arriving on the Moon is "usable"

We arrived with 213 kg mass at the moon.

After orbit injection we still have 155 kg.

After landing on the Moon (I assumed about 10% losses compared to an ideal, mathematic landing) about 55 kg remain. I took here Armadillo's engine with an Isp of about 200s.

What I haven't accounted for is a control system during the flight phases for trajectory corrections. I would say that we can perhaps assume some 30-40kg on the Moon (of course not all payload but also the descent engine with propellant tank, computers, comm system etc).


A different possible launcher would be the Russian Dnepr rocket with about 4 tons into LEO and launch costs of some $10-11 millions.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:43 am
I must admit I had my doubts that a Falcon 1 would be big enough for a lunar rover mission but it appears it is possible, makes me wonder why NASA hasn't launched something on this much smaller scale (few 10s of millions of dollars) itself to gain experience in moving across the lunar environment.

It would seem sensible to do a few cheap missions before doing an all out one for $200m or more.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:37 pm
Hello, Klaus,

I still haven't had another look into the data about probes landed on the Moon I applied in the Lunar Siyuz-thread in the Financial Barriers-section but I remember that at least one of the probes didn't do a lunar orbital insertion before landing. That probe landed directly. I think to remember that it was Surveyor.

So it may be possible that no orbital insertion is required - this would save some weight for the payload/rover.

There is no particular location the rover has to land at - in so far no orbit seems to be required.

What about it?

Another question - is it possible that the rover lands directly on its wheels and thus capable of roving just after landing? Doesn't it need a ramp merely? Like the martian twin rovers?



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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:03 pm
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
A Falcon 1e is capable of putting about 723 kilograms (I'll assume 750 kg)
No real engineer would ever say that. Real engineers would say, "...capable of putting about 723 kilograms (I'll assume 700 kg...). You never, ever, assume you will get more performance than the specification.


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