13 February 2011

Creating a Staging Base at L1 for Permanent Lunar Bases


The Lagrange point L1 lies between the Earth and Luna at a point where the two gravities essentially cancel. This provides a relatively stable staging point for Lunar arrivals and departures, for permanently manned moon bases. NASA engineers have designed a spacecraft -- Nautilus X -- which could provide such a staging point.
The initial mission of the Nautilus X would see its deployment at the L1 Lagrange point where the gravity of the Earth and Moon cancel out. The Nautilus X would serve as a way station for astronauts headed for the Moon. An Orion or commercial space craft such as the Dragon would take a crew from the Earth to the Nautilus X. After an initial check out, a crew would take a landing vehicle to the lunar surface either for exploration missions or extended stays at a lunar base. Crews would depart from the Moon after their missions have been completed, dock with the Nautilus X, then take the Orion or commercial space craft the rest of the way to Earth. _newsYahoo

Brian Wang presents more information on ideas for moving human spaceflight beyond LEO -- Low Earth Orbit.
If a heavy-lift launch vehicle is available this decade, an expandable 30.5 ton habitat and departure-stage propulsion system may be launched to E-M L1,2 in a single launch and will offer 575 cubic meter (roughly half the habitable volume of ISS)

If existing (or near-future) EELVs are the available launch vehicles this decade, a 16 ton, 170 cubic meter design that uses a pair of launches of Delta IV H and LEO rendezvous/fuel transfer to reach E-M L1,2. _More at NextBigFuture with graphics and links

If humans are to get serious about space, they need to design spacecraft for extended missions, and for routine long-range travel. The moon is closest of all extraterrestrial planets, and holds the promise of on-site water, nuclear fuels, valuable minerals and building materials, and a useful observation and scientific research platform.

Until humans devise better long-range space vehicles, Mars is far less practical a mission, and offers at best a "one-off" fireworks display (like Apollo) which might well leave us worse off in terms of long term space missions -- for all the money wasted on an expensive token flight.

Space activities need to learn to pay for themselves. Government-dependency thinking will only set us back many more decades.


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Blogger Loren said...

All NASA has done since Apollo has been the shuttle political fiasco, ISS, and little robots to various places--Cassini was the biggest in a while. Everything else they've done has been either pork(Orion) or a waste of money(x-33).

Forbid NASA from spending any money on lift vehicles--make them contract for lift to LEO just like the rest of the gov buys commercial airline tickets to send people around. Forcing them to focus beyond LEO will help, and making them get out of the way for commercial opportunities out there too would help.

Sunday, 13 February, 2011  
Blogger LarryD said...

FYI, L3 and L4 are metastable for simple systems, L1, L2 and L3 are not. Look up "Halo orbit" and "Lissajous orbit" if you're interested in the details of how to "park" using the L1-3 points.

Sunday, 13 February, 2011  

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