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European Lunar Station

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:05 am
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European Lunar Station 
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Post European Lunar Station   Posted on: Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:05 am
This morning I read under www.welt.de that the former astronaut Prof. Messerschmidt, other known scientists, people at ESA and EADS too claim that Europe should install a lunar station in order not to fall back behind other nations regarding space and astronomy.

There are two concrete ideas as first step. The first of them is the installation of a radio telescope - or an interferometer - at the far side of the moon. But the second idea is a little bitmore interesting perhaps - installation of that instrument inside a polar crater. The rim of the crater would keep away earthian radio and it would be possible to establish indirect but not permanent radio-contact between Earth and the instrument.

The article say that one Ariane 5 would be sufficient to install the instrument and the infrastructure it needs.

www.marssociety.de have published these informations too the difference being that they are talking of Ariane 5 but not of one Ariane 5.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 18, 2005 4:48 am
Uh, Messerschmidt..... As in descendent of the world-famed aircraft designer of the '30s and '40s? If he's got anything of that in him, he's a force to be reckoned with.

I hope they pull it off -- it'll make a nice first lunar tourist stop. 8)

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 18, 2005 8:34 am
Hello, spacecowboy,

I'll try to find out if the both belong to the same family - I seem to remebber that it is the case but I am not sure.

As far as I can "estimate" it the unmanned lunar station - the telescope - shouldn't be that expensive. There will be normal costs of a radio telescope and the costs of the Arian V. To this have to be added the equipment and technology to install the telscope robotically including a vehicle which would have to roll around within an area of 100 meters * 100 meters or so, the installation of the radio-conatct to Earth, the technology to keep all the cargo as compact as possible and the propellant required to reach the moon and its polar crater

You are right regarding the first lunar touristic attraction - but it may turn out too that the Europeans later become aware that it might be advantageous to have a crew there to maintain the telescope. And there already is a talk about letting follow a manned european lunar station later.

German astronomers are already lobbying for that unmanned station at the government (and the parliament I hope) - and if Angela Merkel succeeds at the today's elections and a major coalition between the Christiandemocarts and the Socialdemocrates is avoided in favor of the intended coalition between the Christiandemocrates and the Free Democrates then the scientists might succced. as far as I remeber Angela Merkel wants to (re)inforce german sceince, research and technology.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 19, 2005 9:09 am
Hello, spacecowboy,

the two persons don't have to do nothing with each other - the correct spelling of the science astronaut's Name is Messerschmid while the famous airplane constructor's name is spelled Messerschmitt.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:06 pm
Ah, okay. Now I'm slightly less disturbed by the possibility of cosmic karma or something equally idiotic.

Still, I hope they succeed.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 20, 2005 11:06 am
The major posible obstacles will be first the financial ressources, the governmental budgets and second - in short term - the results of the german elections for the Deutscher Bundestag: no reasonable majorities, no possible problem-free coalitions, no willingness of the two major parties to let the candidate of the other to be the chancellor and to reduce their plans how to reform the country.

The schedule seems to say that the lunar radio telescope should be launched and/or installed in 2024.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:23 pm
I think that ESA should think about getting a credible manned space vehicle before it worries about a lunar station.

Statements like "Europe should install a lunar station in order not to fall back behind other nations regarding space and astronomy" are stupid when Europe has never even launched its own astronaut into orbit (or sub-orbital for that matter). Lets get real here, Europe is long way behind the US and Russia in manned spaceflight and its a matter of catching up not falling behind.

I have seen a lot of talk about future European space missions but I havent seen many governments wanting to pay for them, German or otherwise.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 20, 2005 2:15 pm
How can you compare Europe with the US or Russia? They are all very very small copuntries compared to us states, so they don't even have a decent budget. And the way the US spends its money, is not the way to go for Europe. Their idea for a lunar station is overambitious and is not very realistic. Unless they 'simply' use the private sector to get there and then building a base itself wouldn't have to be that hard to finance. If it's done properly...


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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 20, 2005 2:39 pm
you see i don't think Europe are very far behind the US at all! realy look at it! i bet technology wise the US are no far advanced with space flight, when The US got into Germany after WW2 they thought there research into rockets was 25 years behind germany. Basically they got into space on european designed German Rockets! and a hell of a lot of money!

I bet if Europe had to start now and build a spaceship for the moon by 2018 i bet they would have a good one! it is just that they don't go out and build them at the moment, not to be confused with being behind. What have the US realy ganied from going to the moon back then, apart from a flag! I think pretty much any nation could go into space if they wanted, God even maybe India! I think realy it's not a case of catching up of falling behind but just doing it. Because we havnt dont it doesnt before doesnt mean that we are starting much further behind. I bet if they gave Steve Bennett millions and a rocket pad he would have orbital flights while nasa still build there next ship!

However a lunar station, HA!
Were all basically using 30yr old technology with better electronics! Griffin even said that in his speech! :?

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:00 pm
...yes, Rob, Griffin did say that. He also said WHY, something that you left out:

Quote:
There have been tremendous revolutions in electronics and avionics and software since the time of Apollo and those will be fully incorporated into our thinking and into this design. But it looks like what it does because of the requirements of high speed aerodynamics and the necessity to be efficient and effective with out use of weight break downs throughout the system. And those requirements are the same as they were in 1962. So, that's why it looks the way it does.


The full text of the presentation is available on NASA's website.

We all should have learned from the Xprize that spaceflight is hard. Remember when you thought that the Xprize was really a contest? Here we are nearly two years after the end of the prize period and there is still only one spaceflight-capable former competitor, and that's just for suborbital!

The team that won the contest (which was designed to be unwinnable, BTW, otherwise no underwriter would have covered it) did so with spectacular funding, brilliant engineering, and not a small amount of kibbitzing with other significant players. They worked for nearly a decade, and missed thier estimated completion date by a year, and they flew with "innovative" rocket motor technology nearly 20 years old that was based on chemistry which was worked out 50 years ago.

SpaceX has a wet dream's worth of money behind their project, Musk poached some of the best talent in the business to work on his birds, after three and a half years of spending millions each month, he still hasn't launched the smallest of them. Falcon IX, when it is ready (2007 if they are really lucky) still will not have enough boost for a real manned lunar mission. Even if it did, nobody would attempt such a mission on the first shot with new hardware.

Griffin's boys will be next on the moon. Only the Russian program could catch up, and the money would have to come from elsewhere.

If ESA wants to run manned missions independently, they should call some folks whom are already positioned in the spacelaunch business like SpaceX or Kistler and get whatever head start they can. If they start from scratch, they will not have flightworthy hardware any earlier than SpaceX or t/Space or possibly even Virgin. It's either that or try to man-rate Ariane, but I expect there is a reason that has not already been done.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:51 pm
One major problem here is that the current german government simply isn't interested in manned spaceflight except to the ISS. The Aurora prgram includes a manned Mars mission as a project at least - and as far as I know this is the reason why the current german goverment no longer wants to be involved in manned spaceflight.

Of course - they keep sending german astronauts to the ISS.

This all menas that it is lack of engagement merely - more than anything else what is preventing the Europeans from development of own manned space vehicles and own lunar manned vehicles.

What the current german government does I don't understand yet - may be their decision is no wonder because of teir political and ideological minds. But they are missing and abandoning a source of economical growth, employment and other chances.

EADS would be able to develop a reasonable european manned unar vehicle.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 20, 2005 7:04 pm
My point was not that Europe couldn't have a manned space program, I'm sure it could, the point is it doen't have one of it own at the moment. Hitching lifts with the US or Russians and making space station components for someone else to launch is not the same as having full independant access to space.

Europe has the technology and the money but not the will, perhaps that will change if the Kliper project is successful and starts to grab people's interest. ESA doesn't need SpaceX or Kistler they could do it all themselves. I dont know about you but if I was a rocket engineer working for a small private company struggling to build a satellite launcher and ESA said how would you like to build a manned spacecraft for us, I would have to give it serious consideration. Poaching staff is what all the companies do all the time so ESA should do the same.

If the US thought it had any real competion in manned space it would give NASA a lot more money. If the Russians or anyone else landed a man on the moon or better still put a small base there NASA's would be able to write some really big cheques.

To talk about creating European Lunar stations when it hasn't even taken the fist steps into LEO by itself seems a bit premature.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 20, 2005 8:44 pm
yeah andy i agree with that, it is the will!
I personally think Russia are doing a lot better than nasa at the moment, the soyuz seems so reliable! I think perhaps europe are holding out for the clipper, would be nice to have some joint efforts going into a project, the plans look great for it. Could be launched on European owned doil somwhere nicely! I hear it can go to the moon as well, so if it is built soon, whats to stop it going?

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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:15 am
Rob Goldsmith wrote:
I personally think Russia are doing a lot better than nasa at the moment, the soyuz seems so reliable! I think perhaps europe are holding out for the clipper, would be nice to have some joint efforts going into a project, the plans look great for it. Could be launched on European owned doil somwhere nicely! I hear it can go to the moon as well, so if it is built soon, whats to stop it going?


Yes I have read articles saying that Kliper is capable of going to the moon, but the Russians would still need a lunar lander and ascent vehicle to put a man on its surface. With the current funding that isn't going to happen anytime soon and to be fair the Russians have never said that they will be building them. I dont see much point in orbital trips around the moon with Kliper, they could do that with Soyuz if they wanted.

Back on topic: I think that just because the alt space cummunity thinks that it is a good idea for a European lunar station it dosent make it any more likely. The majority of Europe is blissfully ignorant about what is going on in space and dosent really want know anyway. Until somebody can show real benefits for manned space exploration (yes I know all the arguments about saving humanity from a meteor strike or technology spin-offs) then a European lunar station will remain just an idea fed by pretty artists impressions or the odd scientist making a comment somewhere.

The same can also be said of a US station which is likely to get a pretty hard ride when it comes to budgets. More likely to be an international lunar station along the lines of the ISS but after the problems associated with that that could also be just so many artists pictures.

The real requirement is not money, technology or even will but need. It must be necessary for a lunar station to exist for it to become reality. All the time it remains on the "wouldn't it be nice to have list" it is subject to posponement or cancellation. Even in the US exploration strategy it is not a necessity, robotic missions could be used to test equipment on the lunar surface and the ISS and Earth analogs could be used to test habitats and procedures. This approach might not be as good but would be a damn sight cheaper so would look attractive to people holding the purse strings.

So while I would love to see a lunar station, I am not at all sure one will be built in my life time :(

Sorry for the rant. :)

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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:16 am
I began to talk about it simply because scientists are lobbying for it - without that the ignorance etc. never would be removed. Now there is public talk about it which is important. The other reason to talk about it for me is that unmanned missions to the moon were the precursor to manned missions in the US too. If then such a missions succeeds in installing a radio telescope there then this would mean safe unmanned landing on the moon - what then would be missing as precursor to a manned landing?

That the politicians, the parliaments, the governments and the people are ignorant is correct but another aspect. Seen from germany today or in these current days the EU might be changed by the baltic countries and the other countries in the eastern part of the EU during the next years and decade into a community which is innovative, has positive goals and takes challenges. The reason is that this is the only chance for the baltic countries and the eastern members of the EU - and the past german elections might result in all those leaving Germany behind...

Writing this I am permanently thinking of ARCA and Romania too.



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