Discussion Construct a Moon lander within one term

Urwumpe

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Seeing as how we're already looking at 1.0 - 5.0 billion per individual Orion launch, a run of 6 + 1 lunar modules for less than 2 billion sounds like quite the bargain.

Yes - but that would mean really barebones and really as COTS as possible. After all, the plan was for a minimum cost solution for the goal - so two astronauts, 24 hours on the surface, about 36 hours design endurance, minimal subsystems for the task, etc... and then, even I have doubts that less than 2 billion is really having more than the regular "We have documented CMM Level 1 processes"* 33% chance to stay in budget and in time.

Also launch costs include a lot more - like mission control, launch control, launcher... that is all not included here. All operational costs of getting these LM 2.0s to the surface of the moon and astronauts on board and back to Earth again are not included.

Even if you assume just one mission control flight controller per large subsystem + a minimum engineering crew behind each position for analysis, in three shifts + engineers and technicians to operate the MCC, you quickly get a 6 digit figure per day of flight.

* Management is perfectly organized, with all office assistants knowing the phone numbers of the few engineering heroes to call to save the project.
 
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kamaz

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Urwumpe

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Slow down. You also need to get it to the Moon and it takes another 3 days.

The required endurance of the spacecraft can be reduced a lot, if you have the crew in another spacecraft like the Apollo CSM during translunar transfer. Or in other words: If the spacecraft is mostly in hibernation for a LOR-mission, you can reduce the specifications for the subsystems and consumables a lot.
 

richfororbit

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I imagine then a non personnel mission, a lander I guess will be the next step. I would like to think a one off mission will happen, the political realities are difficult as others have expressed in the thread at the beginning.
 

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I'm confused.

Do you think that access to modern technology and foreknowledge of the lunar environment will make a LM harder to develop?

If not where does the belief that LM 2.0 will have to be significantly less capable AND more expensive than LM 1.0 (even after accounting for inflation) come from?
 
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Urwumpe

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I'm confused.

Do you think that access to modern technology and foreknowledge of the lunar environment will make a LM harder to develop?

If not where does the belief that LM 2.0 will have to be significantly less capable AND more expensive than LM 1.0 (even after accounting for inflation) come from?

No, I think it will make it not much easier than in 1963 to develop a LM. That is a difference. We have no LM construction kit anywhere. We have 50 years without ever constructing something like a LM. Where would we pick up? Sure by what we know by constructing orbital vehicles and unmanned landers.

And nothing of those two sources of experience shows a significant revolutionary cost reduction to be possible in the development, only a evolutionary.

Also knowing more does not mean you know how to make something cheaper. Unknown, unknown problems are the keyword there - problems that you have not even been aware of at design time. When the LM was designed, we did not even know how the surface of the moon is really like. Or how problematic the dust on the moon will be. Those are today known problems, for which you have to prepare. And for which you need to design and test. This means you have in the end higher KNOWN costs in advance. And simply less costs that will be added later in the program when you find out. In hindsight, your program might be cheaper in total. It must not be. But you sure would have more reliable cost estimates when you begin. And those are higher than by ignoring the previous experiences. You could ignore them. But then your quality would shrink: The original LM was pretty lucky in many aspects, its shortcomings did never turn out bad (Except nearly leaving the crew dead or stranded in some instances - just think about the broken switch issue). But the more was known about the spacecraft during a mission, the more was known what would be needed to be modified.

Finally: If you want to reduce costs, you need to reduce performance or quality. And in spaceflight, you can't reduce quality a lot without killing the crew. If you want to make your LM 2.0 significant cheaper than the LM 1.0, you need to reduce performance. And half or even 1/3rd of the original costs (accounting inflation) is a significant cost reduction.

if you would try to build something that is exactly performing like the LM as flown during the final J-missions, you would maybe even end with just 20% cost reduction. Where would the cost reduction come from? The parts are maybe smaller and lighter and you could sure build the same spacecraft with a fraction of the mass budget. But you would still need the same kinds of subsystems. You would need to test for the same number of specifications. The actual costs of the parts are only having a small contribution to the total costs at such a small number of spacecraft. Also you can't underperform in design, when you have to replace the Apollo subsystems by COTS components. What you save on designing the individual components does not reduce the costs for the system design. If you don't need to design your own IMU, you save a lot of R&D costs. But at the same time add new costs for fitting the existing IMU into your design.


Regardless how I play with the coarse numbers in my head - I can't really see any reason right now to offer less than 20% cost reduction from the original 3 billion at the same specifications - 2.4 billion.

And about 30% mass reduction - you could land two astronauts and a significant scientific payload including a LRV, about 450 kg/1000 lb likely with a spacecraft weighting only ~11500 kg at launch, using some modern structural design and modern components.

If you want to further cut costs by making smarter design, you have a new requirement analysis phase, with additional costs initially. But then you could get down to the numbers I stated above. Instead of just taking Apollo components and replace them by modern components, you design the subsystems for modern components. Then you could likely get the mass below 10000 kg, at the same crew, payload and endurance targets. You could redesign the structures completely (and not just take Apollo and adapt for available metal specifications), use 3D printing at some critical places, etc. Then we could also really make use of CAD and CAM, something that was in its early developments during Apollo.

And yes, that would be a new spacecraft. Brand new.

I refer to here for the original and improved specifications - and what was later planned. Considering your add-on development background, I am sure you know it already, but maybe others reading the discussion have not:

https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/LM23_LM_Derivatives_LMD1-13.pdf
 
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Hlynkacg

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A even at 1 for 1 price point (adjusting for inflation) the original J series LMs would still be significantly cheaper than a single Orion launch, never mind the cost of the Orion program as a whole so I still don't understand your objection.

A 20% percent cost reduction on that would 20% off something that was a bargain to begin with.
 

Urwumpe

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A even at 1 for 1 price point (adjusting for inflation) the original J series LMs would still be significantly cheaper than a single Orion launch, never mind the cost of the Orion program as a whole so I still don't understand your objection.

A 20% percent cost reduction on that would 20% off something that was a bargain to begin with.

Well, if you would do a single launch of your LM 2.0 in one year, you could also get such per launch costs as Orion. The fixed costs are enormous and the longer your program runs, the higher are theses fixed costs.

The old cost estimate for only doing a single launch of Orion/SLS per year was already 5 billion in 2013:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2330/1

Its even 14.3 billion USD if you would only launch once every four years.

And this assumes "only" a 30 billion USD development cost for both SLS and Orion. The original projection was 10 billion for SLS and 6 billion for Orion - which has a three times bigger crew and much "higher" performance goals (you can't really compare them, but in relation to similar requirements on other manned spacecraft, they are) than a basic LM 2.0 design would have to reach. Orion even weights nearly twice as much as the original Apollo LM. The costs increased in 6.77 billion for Orion in September 2015 projections. (And this includes a lot of NASA bloat, like absurdly high safety standards imposed after STS-107)
 
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Hlynkacg

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Well, if you would do a single launch of your LM 2.0 in one year, you could also get such per launch costs as Orion. The fixed costs are enormous and the longer your program runs, the higher are theses fixed costs.

The old cost estimate for only doing a single launch of Orion/SLS per year was already 5 billion in 2013

Right, and I thought that we had already agreed that a run of 6 Apollo LM 2.0s + test article was going to cost less than half that so what exactly is the nature of your objection?

Likewise if we assume that we are building to the same basic spec (dV, Mass, build quality, etc...) why would you expect LM 2.0 to cost more than the original despite the fact that we are no longer starting from scratch? Have you changed your mind about that 20% cost reduction?
 
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Urwumpe

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Right, and I thought that we had already agreed that a run of 6 Apollo LM 2.0s + test article was going to cost less than half that so what exactly is the nature of your objection?

That's no objection - its simply a setting the boundaries. The question asked is, after all, not about how much it can maximally cost, but how much the costs can be lowered and how.

Also, I calculate so far with pure development and construction costs, not including launch and operation. This way my numbers are comparable to LM (where the total launch costs are also mixed with Saturn V, CSM, ground infrastructure, recovery and mission control), but not to the cost projections of SLS/Orion.

Just as example - if you would do a complete cost accounting on our LM 2.0 including launch and operation, where would we end up in total and per launch? With 7 spacecraft available including a flight prototype. You need to include training for all employees, including astronauts and flight controllers. But you would need to subtract the costs for launcher and Apollo CSM stand-in.

That could become a serious amount of Excel magic quickly.

Maybe it would be simpler if there would be a concrete LM 2.0 design with a concept of the operations in first place to start calculating for.

---------- Post added at 01:27 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:39 AM ----------

BTW: How a lunar lander looked like during the Shuttle era:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930008239.pdf
 

kamaz

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Spudis & Lavaoie budgeted a reusable lander at 4.5B$, 5 years. Stress on reusable, because his plan has rotating crews (crew A takes the lander up to LLO, crew B takes it back down to the base).

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110004368.pdf

BTW: How a lunar lander looked like during the Shuttle era:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930008239.pdf

...and observe that, like in Spudis' plan, the lander is reusable so its cost is amortized over several missions. In fact the main difference between this and Spudis&Lavoie is that the latter eliminates the LEO component of the system, reducing cost.

Also if you do the historical comparison of proposed lunar return programs, you will see that the projected cost is steadily going down. Spudis&Lavoie plan is already out of the realm of "unaffordable" and deep in the realm of "expensive". If you take Spudis' plan and switch SLS/Orion for FalconHeavy/Dragon the cost drops further.
 

Urwumpe

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...and observe that, like in Spudis' plan, the lander is reusable so its cost is amortized over several missions. In fact the main difference between this and Spudis&Lavoie is that the latter eliminates the LEO component of the system, reducing cost.

Actually, both had been reusable - the OTV was designed to be a reusable spacetug, just like the baseline cryogen lander in this paper.

The main difference seems to be really the inclusion of the upper stage into the lander...
 

kamaz

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OTV would rely on Space Station Freedom as a base. The required LEO component (Freedom+Shuttle) made the OTV+lander concept prohibitely expensive.

A huge and underappreciated contribution made by Constellation planners was discovering that a lander can be launched into LLO directly and separately and sit there waiting for Orion with the crew. The problem with their plan was that since Ares-V (now renamed SLS) would only fly twice per year, the program would be restricted to sortie mode and one mission per year.

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/140635main_ESAS_04.pdf

After Spudis found water on the Moon he realized that this is a game changer because: (a) the lander can be refueled in situ which makes it reusable thus you need only one lander for the whole program (*) and (b) water no longer has to be shipped to the base. (b) means that the duration of the stay is unlimited as long as we can ship enough canned food. (a) means that all SLS flights are now crew plus cargo, so you rotate crews every 6 months. His plan puts the base at South Pole (because ice) which means that the sortie mode is not needed as far as science is concerned, because the Aitken Basin is close enough to drive over there in a rover. So despite SLS' abysmal flight rate lunar base now looks feasible (if difficult).

And if you study his budget you can see that the most expensive part is not the lander but the (drumroll) SLS cost per flight. So the next logical optimization is taking Spudis' plan and replacing (or at least supplementing) Ares/Orion with something which is both cheaper and has a higher flight rate.

Patience. We will have a base on the Moon and its inhabitants have already been born. But it looks like we will have to finish World War III first. Oh well.

(*) a real-life program will probably require two landers at the base, with one acting as a spare.
 

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OTV would rely on Space Station Freedom as a base. The required LEO component (Freedom+Shuttle) made the OTV+lander concept prohibitely expensive.

Remember, this was all calculated with largely different shuttle flight rates and costs as it was after Challenger. Also a HLLV cargo launcher was supposed to augment the Shuttle in the scenario.
 

PhantomCruiser

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After some thinking; we really don't need to build a new lander. We already have one. Isn't LM-9 hanging from the ceiling at the Saturn V center at KSC?

If the "goal" is to get to the moon and back, hardware already exists. Of course it'd need to be refurb'd and certified. But it's there. The costs to refurb it might be cheaper than developing an all new lander. Or ever reverse engineering the one we have.

Before anyone wants to complain about the obsolete technology, I work at a nuclear plant, we have the best technology 1965 has to offer.
 

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Phantom, glad you could join in.

So a Nuclear power station. You're in for a nice pension.;)

And that module could be good to go then?
 

PhantomCruiser

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I don't think it'd work off the shelf (or down from the ceiling as it were). There's bound to be a great deal of degradation simply because it's been static for so long. But the hardware is there.
Also the "prop" used in Apollo 13 was one of the LMs that Grumman never finished. It's good for a boilerplate at least.



Retirement. Paying into it early given the amount of overtime I'm putting in to start our second unit.
 

kamaz

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Remember, this was all calculated with largely different shuttle flight rates and costs as it was after Challenger. Also a HLLV cargo launcher was supposed to augment the Shuttle in the scenario.

Yes, all parts of a $500B program. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Exploration_Initiative

Zubrin (although I dislike his obsesssion with Mars Direct at the expense of lunar programs) has correctly pointed out that SEI was about putting everyone's pet project in the critical path to Mars.
 

Urwumpe

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Yes, all parts of a $500B program. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Exploration_Initiative

Zubrin (although I dislike his obsesssion with Mars Direct at the expense of lunar programs) has correctly pointed out that SEI was about putting everyone's pet project in the critical path to Mars.

Well, pretty much that. It had some good points, in the sense of focussing more on using government money for establishing infrastructure and outposts in space, instead of leaving little behind after every mission. After all, the more spacecraft you already have at your target location, the less spacecraft you need to take with you.

But that was already a more modest plan compared to what NASA wanted to do in 1984. Essentially SEI was taking the flagship projects from before Challenger. And then came Dan "Meatball" Goldin, and suddenly manned exploration was no longer worth fighting for.
 
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