Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

SoylentNews is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop. Only 11 submissions in the queue.
posted by takyon on Thursday June 30 2016, @10:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the space-rig dept.

Dubbed the "Cislunar 1,000 Vision," an initiative outlined by American launch provider ULA (United Launch Alliance) foresees a self-sustaining economy that supports 1,000 people living and working in Earth-moon space roughly 30 years from now. The basic outline is to develop re-fueling capability in Earth-moon space, perhaps by propellant made using water extracted from the moon or asteroids. This, in turn, will make it more economically feasible to get to destinations more distant. From the Space.com article:

For example, a rocket could carry just enough fuel to get to low Earth orbit and then refuel its upper stage in space to get a payload to the much more distant geosynchronous transfer orbit.

"I can potentially do that whole mission cheaper if I can get propellant cheap enough in low Earth orbit," Sowers said. George Sowers is vice president of advanced programs for Colorado-based ULA.

The concept stems from an analysis and ongoing technical work by ULA involving a souped-up Centaur rocket stage called ACES (Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage), a tanker called XEUS, and a "kit" that augments an ACES stage, allowing the vehicle to land horizontally on the lunar surface and to be stocked with moon-mined fuel for transport.

Sowers continues:

ULA will solicit proposals for ACES' upper-stage engines, tapping the technologies of aerospace companies such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, XCOR Aerospace and Blue Origin. And the U.S. Air Force is supporting some ACES work under rocket propulsion system contracts, Sowers said.

"There's a lot of activity ongoing," he said, "and we're designing a Vulcan booster to accommodate the ACES upper stage."

Vulcan is ULA's next-generation launch system. [Vulcan Rocket: ULA Unveils New Modular Launch System (Video)]

"Once we have ACES flying, sometime in the early to mid-2020s, we would be in a position to utilize space-provided propellant," Sowers said.

[...] "For the most part, the only potential customers for space-based fuel have been space agencies. But their timelines keep shifting, their budgets keep getting reappropriated and the political will to enable this kind of activity 'gets bogged down in bureaucratic zombie zones,' [mining technologies and robotics provider Dale] Boucher said. [,,,] "the ULA plan enables commercialization in deeper space and provides risk reductions for space-agency-sponsored missions."

Franchises anyone?


Original Submission

Related Stories

Lockheed Martin Repurposing Shuttle Cargo Module to Use for Lunar Orbiting Base 28 comments

Let's just throw this old thing at the Moon and call it a day:

A cargo container that was built to fly on NASA's space shuttles is being repurposed as a prototype for a deep space habitat.

Lockheed Martin announced it will refurbish the Donatello multi-purpose logistics module (MLPM), transforming from it from its original, unrealized role as a supply conveyor for the International Space Station to a test and training model of a living area for astronauts working beyond Earth orbit. The work is being done under a public-private partnership between the aerospace corporation and NASA.

"We are excited to work with NASA to repurpose a historic piece of flight hardware," said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin's program manager for the deep space habitat contract, in a statement.

Donatello was one of three MPLMs that was designed to fly in the space shuttle payload bay to transfer cargo to the station. Built by the Italian Space Agency under a contract with NASA, two modules, Leonardo and Raffaello, flew on 12 shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011.

Also at Popular Mechanics.

Previously: NASA and International Partners Planning Orbital Lunar Outpost
NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars

Related: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
Cislunar 1000 Vision - Commercializing Space
Forget Mars, Colonize Titan
Japan Planning to Put a Man on the Moon Around 2030


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough

Mark All as Read

Mark All as Unread

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30 2016, @10:59PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30 2016, @10:59PM (#368190)

    Let me guess, George Sowers is a stereotypical futurist who desperately hopes the secret of immortality will be discovered, on the moon, in his lifetime. Americans live for about 80 years, so Sowers must be in his 50s right now. And his LinkedIn profile says....first college degree awarded in 1980. Yes indeed. George Sowers is a stereotypical futurist.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:07PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:07PM (#368195) Journal
      Well, things did change in the last 30 years. So it's not a stretch to expect that they'll change in the next 30 as well.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:16PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:16PM (#368198)

        Wireless digital computers have replaced wired analog phones. Not much else has changed.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:32PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:32PM (#368201) Journal

          Not much else has changed.

          Easy thing to say if you aren't looking.

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Friday July 01 2016, @12:55AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @12:55AM (#368218) Journal
          I suppose I ought to give examples of how much the world has changed in the last 30 years. For an on topic example, commercial launch to space started in 1980, 36 years ago with the creation of Arianespace. The US joined when it allowed for commercial launch in 1984. So for a key example, the last thirty years is virtually the entire lifespan of commercial space launch to date!

          Then of course, there's huge demographic changes such as a global slowing down of population growth, and a huge increase in the income and wealth of most of the world. In addition, there has been a great opening of wealth to the common man such as being able to invest in stock markets and similar things.

          There have been huge technological changes such as the commercialization of the internet, the world wide web, and a vast sector of global industry and commerce that didn't exist 30 years ago.

          I have IRC-chat casually with people from California, Denmark, or Dubai simultaneous while playing a game in the middle of Yellowstone National Park. Such a thing would have been technologically possible, but out of my grasp until the last 15 years.

          We've seen a new era of democracy (though it is backsliding these days) with the end of most communism in the world.

          I'm only scratching the surface here, but any insistence that things haven't changed is ignoring a lot of change.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @01:45AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @01:45AM (#368226)

            All of your examples demonstrate that technology has become cheaper and thus more accessible, but fundamentally very little has changed.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday July 01 2016, @03:13AM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @03:13AM (#368249) Journal

              All of your examples demonstrate that technology has become cheaper and thus more accessible, but fundamentally very little has changed.

              Even if that were true, that is a huge development just by itself. But I mention the commercialization of both space access and the internet which are more than just a change in cost.

            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Tork on Friday July 01 2016, @03:19AM

              by Tork (3914) on Friday July 01 2016, @03:19AM (#368252)
              The great thing about the term 'fundamentally' is that you can perpetuate the debate just by widening the view. A few more replies down the road and you'll be saying: "We all still eat, sleep, and shit. See! Nothing's changed!!"

              It's a bit formulaic.
              --
              Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @04:02AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @04:02AM (#368267)

                When I need to take a shit, I reach for a Tork!

                But seriously, electricity changed the world more fundamentally than the internet, because before the internet you already had a telecommunications network you could use to call anyone in the world with a telephone. Radio changed the world more fundamentally than mobile phones, mobile phones are just personal computers with radios, and personal computers are just miniaturized mainframes. Fundamentally we're using all the same technology that existed 60 years ago, it's just smaller and faster and cheaper now.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday July 01 2016, @04:34AM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @04:34AM (#368276) Journal

                  But seriously, electricity changed the world more fundamentally than the internet, because before the internet you already had a telecommunications network you could use to call anyone in the world with a telephone. Radio changed the world more fundamentally than mobile phones, mobile phones are just personal computers with radios, and personal computers are just miniaturized mainframes. Fundamentally we're using all the same technology that existed 60 years ago, it's just smaller and faster and cheaper now.

                  Now, we've moved the goalposts from no change at all to not quite as fundamentally changed. Thanks for playing.

                • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday July 01 2016, @06:56PM

                  by Tork (3914) on Friday July 01 2016, @06:56PM (#368555)

                  When I need to take a shit, I reach for a Tork!

                  Thank you for getting the reference in my nickname! Most think I'm a dipshit that doesn't know how to spell 'torque'. I'd rather be known as a dipshit with a shitty nick. :D

                  --
                  Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:06PM

    by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:06PM (#368194)

    It's interesting to talk about these kind of plans, and nothing will ever happen if no-one makes plans, but I can't see what people's motivations might be for going to space.
    My ancestors colonised the country I live in because they were tenet farmers at home, there was no prospect of life improving for them, and the new land offered a better life.
    I guess if there was somewhere to go in space, where a better life could be make, then people would move, otherwise these guys are just refuelling rockets for the sake of refuelling rockets.

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday July 01 2016, @08:56PM

      by HiThere (866) on Friday July 01 2016, @08:56PM (#368628)

      There are other reasons, political and religious, e.g. Those reasons won't survive the first generation unchanged, but they can motivate the originals, and the next generation will have it's own reasons.

      That said, I don't think we know enough about closed ecosystems to make this work yet. So I didn't bother to read the proposal, but I trust they're planning on burying the lunar base to protect it from radiation. In space one might imagine an electromagnet diverting charged particles, but on the lunar surface it seems to me that burying the base would be a better solution. (IIRC, the original O'Neil wheel envisioned importing soil from the moon to act as a radiation shield.)

      --
      Put not your faith in princes.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @10:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @10:40PM (#368668)

      How about going into space to have some new mix of a gift economy, or improved subsistence economy, or a better planned economy, or a universal basic income supported by robotics (like in Marshall Brain's Manna book with the "Australia Project")? Then there might be some good reasons to move into space to be part of that. See also James P. Hogan's sci-fi writings. Too bad so many people can just think about expanding the current neoliberal economic model into space.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:08PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 30 2016, @11:08PM (#368196) Journal

    perhaps by propellant made using water extracted from the moon or asteroids

    Moon water should be declared a scarce resource belonging to all earthlings, and perhaps accounted for and measured as on the fictional planet Arrakis.

    Converting it into fuel to scatter around space is absurd. So is the idea of going anywhere with chemical rockets.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday July 01 2016, @12:30AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @12:30AM (#368209) Journal

      Converting it into fuel to scatter around space is absurd.

      Absurd compared to what we're using it for now? I doubt it.

      So is the idea of going anywhere with chemical rockets.

      They are what works. And they aren't that costly to operate.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday July 01 2016, @01:58AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @01:58AM (#368228) Journal

        Absurd because of the future possibilities lost.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday July 01 2016, @03:17AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @03:17AM (#368251) Journal

          Absurd because of the future possibilities lost.

          Future possibilities that don't exist now and won't exist without the future "absurd" use of the resource. It is not that hard to get more hydrogen. The Moon is bombarded with it every day, for example

          • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday July 02 2016, @06:47PM

            by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 02 2016, @06:47PM (#368942) Journal

            Hydrogen is not water.

            You might have noticed a distinct lack of lakes on the moon.

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday July 02 2016, @09:08PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 02 2016, @09:08PM (#368983) Journal

              Hydrogen is not water.

              But hydrogen is by far the scarcer ingredient of water on the Moon than oxygen. There are plenty of oxides in the lunar crust.

          • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday July 02 2016, @06:55PM

            by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 02 2016, @06:55PM (#368950) Journal

            Future possibilities that don't exist now and won't exist without the future "absurd" use of the resource.

            But they do exist now.

            We are free to set up a permanent moon base any time we want, its easily withing our capabilities today.
            One key need is water sufficient for consumption and agriculture, and provision of oxygen.

            Water lost from the moon isn't coming back.

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by Fluffeh on Friday July 01 2016, @01:23AM

      by Fluffeh (954) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @01:23AM (#368222) Journal

      Actually, using water from the Moon may not be a bad idea if it allows for cheaper longer range travel in the solar system. If you can have a rocket loaded to capacity with fuel outside the gravity well of the earth, it enables much faster travel to other planets - like the moons of Jupiter/Saturn where there is more water (as well as other hydrocarbons that might make for a good fuel source - such as the methane on Titan) - with that suddenly you can then start looking at commercially lugging large quantities of water through space without the stupid costs that would be required for it at the moment.

      tl;dr
      Might be worth using some of it now, to make getting more easier and quicker in the long run.

      • (Score: 2) by physicsmajor on Friday July 01 2016, @01:47AM

        by physicsmajor (1471) on Friday July 01 2016, @01:47AM (#368227)

        Building on this, even if there's only enough for say 10-20 years you have to realize that using it appropriately as a foothold to greater things means we'll functionally be able to replace it. Comets, anyone? Frojack isn't thinking far enough outside the box.

        • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday July 01 2016, @11:17AM

          by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday July 01 2016, @11:17AM (#368365) Journal

          "Appropriately" being the key word here. Chances are someone would find it far more profitable to bottle it, ship it down to Earth and sell "premium moon water" at $20000 per litre, or waste it all as propellant for tourist joyrides, or perhaps build a gigantic low gravity lunar waterslide park. Actually that last one sounds pretty cool.

  • (Score: 2) by black6host on Friday July 01 2016, @12:17AM

    by black6host (3827) on Friday July 01 2016, @12:17AM (#368207) Journal

    Moon or asteroid water. Oh yeah! I already know this will work!

    Anyone here ever had a water propelled plastic rocket as a child (many years back?) You'd fill the rocket about half full of water and then attach it to the included air pump that had a sliding part to hold the rocket tight to the pump. You'd then pump as much air into the rocket as you could. Once that was done you'd disengage the sliding part and the compressed air would force the water to be expelled from the base of the rocket propelling it quite high. For a kid that is ;)

    The only problem I see is what to use in place of air.... I'm sure they'll figure it out!