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posted by martyb on Wednesday July 18 2018, @02:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the To-the-moon,-Alice...-to-the-moon! dept.

Chinese space official seems unimpressed with NASA's lunar gateway

This week, the European and Chinese space agencies held a workshop in Amsterdam to discuss cooperation between Europe and China on lunar science missions. The meeting comes as Europe seems increasingly content to work with China on spaceflight programs.

Although the meeting is not being streamed online, space systems designer and lunar exploration enthusiast Angeliki Kapoglou has been providing some coverage of the meeting via Twitter. Among the most interesting things she has shared are slides from a presentation by Pei Zhaoyu, who is deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.

[...] Overall, Pei does not appear to be a fan of NASA's plan to build a deep space gateway, formally known as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, at a near-rectilinear halo orbit. Whereas NASA will focus its activities on this gateway away from the Moon, Pei said China will focus on a "lunar scientific research station."

[...] So far, NASA has yet to finalize commitments with Europe, Russia, or other International Space Station partners on contributions to the gateway. While European officials are interested, it seems like they may also be willing to go along with China if that country has a more direct plan to land humans on the Moon.

Related: NASA Could Scale Down First Manned Flight of the SLS
2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway


Original Submission

Related Stories

NASA Could Scale Down First Manned Flight of the SLS 1 comment

Exploration Mission 2 using the Space Launch System was originally planned to launch using the Block 1B version, which includes the Exploration Upper Stage and can carry 105 metric tons (105,000 kg) to to low-Earth orbit. Now that Congress has given NASA additional money for a second SLS mobile launcher, the agency has the ability to fly astronauts on the smaller Block 1 version of SLS, capable of lifting 70 metric tons to LEO:

The SLS has been in development for the last decade, and when complete, it will be NASA's main rocket for taking astronauts to the Moon and Mars. NASA has long planned to debut the SLS with two crucial test missions. The first flight, called EM-1, will be uncrewed, and it will send the smallest planned version of the rocket on a three-week long trip around the Moon. Three years later, NASA plans to launch a bigger, more powerful version of the rocket around the Moon with a two-person crew — a mission called EM-2.

But now, NASA may delay that rocket upgrade and fly the same small version of the SLS for the crewed flight instead. If that happens, NASA would need to come up with a different type of mission for the crew to do since they won't be riding on the more powerful version of the vehicle. "If EM-2 flies that way, we would have to change the mission profile because we can't do what we could do if we had the [larger SLS]," Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator, said during a Congressional hearing yesterday [2h15m22s video].

[...] Meanwhile, it's also possible that the second flight of the SLS won't carry crew at all. NASA also needs to launch its upcoming mission to Jupiter's moon Europa pretty soon. Known as Europa Clipper, the mission is mandated by Congress to fly on the SLS by 2022. Lightfoot mentioned that Europa Clipper could come before the first crewed flight of the SLS. It just depends on if the Orion crew capsule, which will carry astronauts on the SLS, is ready before Europa Clipper is ready. If the Europa spacecraft comes first, then it could also fly on the small Block 1 rocket.

The trans-lunar injection (TLI) payload capacity for SLS Block 1B is 39.2 metric tons, enough to carry a ~25.9 ton crewed Orion capsule with an 8-10 ton component of the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), as was the original plan for Exploration Mission 2. Block 1 cannot accomplish these two tasks at the same time. Perhaps they should launch LOP-G using Falcon Heavy instead?


Original Submission

2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration 56 comments

NASA is going back to the Moon, perhaps permanently, as seen in a new road map (image):

Four months after President Trump directed NASA to return to the Moon, the agency has presented a road map to meet the goals outlined in Space Policy Directive-1. The updated plan shifts focus from the previous "Journey to Mars" campaign back to the Moon, and—eventually—to the Red Planet.

"The Moon will play an important role in expanding human presence deeper into the solar system," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA, in a release issued by the agency.

While the revamped plan may share the same destination as the Apollo program, NASA said it will approach the return in a more measured and sustainable manner. Unlike humanity's first trip to the Moon, the journey back will incorporate both commercial and international partners.

To achieve this, NASA has outlined four strategic goals:

  • Transition low-Earth orbit (LEO) human spaceflight activities to commercial operators.
  • Expand long-duration spaceflight activities to include lunar orbit.
  • Facilitate long-term robotic lunar exploration.
  • Use human exploration of the Moon as groundwork for eventual human missions to Mars and beyond.

This may be the best outcome for the space program. Let NASA focus on the Moon with an eye towards permanently stationing robots and humans there, and let SpaceX or someone else take the credit for a 2020s/early-2030s manned Mars landing. Then work on a permanent presence on Mars using cheaper rocket launches, faster propulsion technologies, better radiation shielding, hardier space potatoes, etc.

Previously: President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1

Related:


Original Submission

This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway 25 comments

NASA's Space Launch System: Rocketing Towards Cancellation?

The National Space Society recently held a conference in Los Angeles, and SLS was apparently a hot topic at the gathering. Over the course of four days of mingling with space industry muckety-mucks, Politico Space reports it heard multiple rumblings that bode ill for the Space Launch System money-pot.

For one thing, SLS has been marketed as key to NASA's efforts to eventually put astronauts on Mars. But as Politico reports, attendees at the conference expressed doubts as to "the wisdom or efficacy of a crewed mission to Mars in the next decade." California Republican and House space subcommittee member Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, for one, criticized the technology as too immature to support a manned Mars mission, saying "I think all this talk about going to Mars has been premature," and warning that NASA won't actually be ready to conduct a manned Mars mission before "20 years from now, maybe more."

Astronaut Chris Hadfield says the rockets from NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin won't take people to Mars

[Chris] Hadfield, who's now retired, shares his expertise about rockets, spaceships, spacewalking, and Mars exploration in a new web course on the online platform MasterClass. To follow up on those lessons, we asked Hadfield what he thinks about the future rocket ships of three major players in the new space race: NASA's Space Launch System, SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket, and Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket.

[...] "Personally, I don't think any of those three rockets is taking people to Mars," Hadfield told Business Insider. " I don't think those are a practical way to send people to Mars because they're dangerous and it takes too long."

Response to Hadfield's remarks: SpaceX BFR can be used for massive space development, orbital, lunar and Mars colonization

Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 33 comments

Russia throws doubt on joint lunar space station with U.S.: RIA

Moscow may abandon a project to build a space station in lunar orbit in partnership with U.S. space agency NASA because it does not want a "second fiddle role," a Russian official said on Saturday.

[...] [The] head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia might exit the joint program and instead propose its own lunar orbit space station project.

[...] A spokesman for Roscosmos said later that Russia had no immediate plans to leave the project. "Russia has not refused to take part in the project of the lunar orbit station with the USA," Vladimir Ustimenko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

FLOP-G?

Also at ABC (Associated Press).

Previously:

Related:


Original Submission

Canada Will Contribute to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 19 comments

Gateway Moon station: Canada joins Nasa space project

Canada will contribute US$1.4bn to a proposed Nasa space station that will orbit the Moon and act as a base to land astronauts on its surface.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the step would "push the boundaries of innovation".

The space station, called Gateway, is a key element in Nasa's plan to return to the Moon with humans in the 2020s.

As part of the 24-year commitment, Canada will build a next-generation robotic arm for the new lunar outpost.

"Canada is going to the Moon," Mr Trudeau told a news conference at Canadian Space Agency's headquarters near Montreal, according to AFP.

*Canada is going near the Moon.

Also at CBC and Popular Mechanics.

Previously: Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway
China Will Focus on a Lunar Surface Station Rather than a Lunar Orbiting Station
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Could Launch Japanese and European Payloads to Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Is the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway the Right Way to the Moon?

Related: Future of U.S.-Russian Space Cooperation in Doubt
ESA Plans to Send Mining Equipment to the Moon


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday July 18 2018, @02:42AM (10 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 18 2018, @02:42AM (#708628) Homepage Journal

    The west builds in space, China builds on the moon. I see mutual support opportunities here. Why put all your eggs in one basket?

    --
    Our first six presidents were educated men. Then, along came a Democrat.
    • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:15AM (3 children)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:15AM (#708637)

      Sure, why not.

      I can't see any downside at all. Surely if the Indians, the Chinese, Europe, the US, and the Russians are all trying different stuff in space we will figure out what works best quicker.

      Or maybe just do different things with different goals.

      I am not sure how a Space Force helps however.

      • (Score: 4, Funny) by c0lo on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:24AM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:24AM (#708640) Journal

        I am not sure how a Space Force helps however.

        Umm... how 'bout: "someone will need to professionally grope those space tourists at the terminal"?
        And if you pay them peanuts, at least let them have a fancy title.

        (grin)

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 2, Troll) by realDonaldTrump on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:24AM

        by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:24AM (#708641) Homepage Journal

        Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air & sea. Imagine we have a war in space but our military isn't out there. Probably we lose, right? Very badly. Which will be a DISASTER for our Country. Space Force is going to be the 6th branch of our great military. And it's vital to ensuring America continues to lead the way into the stars. Because we are spending a lot and we have a lot of private money coming in. TREMENDOUS!!!

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday July 18 2018, @02:45PM

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 18 2018, @02:45PM (#708783) Homepage Journal

        Someone is going to have to make first contact with the aliens. Grunts with guns are usually first. And, they'll tell you that the aliens taste just like chicken!

        --
        Our first six presidents were educated men. Then, along came a Democrat.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Fluffeh on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:34AM (5 children)

      by Fluffeh (954) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:34AM (#708642) Journal

      China builds on the moon

      The problem that I see is that China will make a peaceful research station. Like the civilian research stations they built on pacific reefs. With no military stuff at all. Apart from those little rocket launching turrets that appear one night. Oh, yes, and the lasers that are used for peaceful purposes. Sharks may be added at a later date.

      But yeah. Land first, claim rights. It's like early european colonisation all over, except in space and with the abilities for things to escalate into much larger confrontations in the space of minutes or hours.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18 2018, @08:19AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18 2018, @08:19AM (#708707)

        I look forward to the Chinese exploring the moon's surface.... especially if they have no state religion involved and they are free to reveal what they find.

        I have an ulterior motive - as I believe we are far older than we have record of, and I also believe its very likely we were seeded here by a far more highly technically advanced race than what we are now, but if so, the evidence of this will be on the moon. If America was to go there, I would be quite concerned that the findings would be "classified" so as to avoid upsetting the quite profitable apple carts of our local religions.

        Nor do I think America has the drive to do anything like this anymore - doing stuff like this is so '60's for us. Its far more profitable for us to have someone else do it, and we give them permission to do it. For a fee, of course. Payable in the currency we print.

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by Freeman on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:11PM

          by Freeman (732) on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:11PM (#708808) Journal

          You watched the new Babylon series too, huh?

          --
          Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday July 18 2018, @02:53PM (2 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 18 2018, @02:53PM (#708791) Homepage Journal

        Somehow, I think a lot of us have things a little skewed. After just a couple generations, maybe not even that long, there won't be nationalities among the people in space. If there are only a half dozen people within a quarter million miles, those half dozen are likely to view each other as the most important half dozen people in the universe. And, they will cultivate good feels, just as much as possible.

        Given a thousand people, the same will hold true, just to a slightly lesser extent. 500 from western nations, and another 500 from eastern nations - they'll be more self-reliant, but they will still see themselves as neighbors, with no other neighbors close by to assist in time of need. A little inter-marrying, or just some hanky-panky now and then, there will be a "new race", or at least a "new nationality" establishing itself. Neither Chinese, nor Russian, nor French, nor American, or even African - they'll be spacers.

        I recommend the books and/or the movies, 'The Expanse'. There will be new differences created among the spacers, but they will lose the old differences. Ultimately, there will be no earth nationalities in space. Not even 'Muricans.

        --
        Our first six presidents were educated men. Then, along came a Democrat.
        • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:14PM (1 child)

          by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:14PM (#708810) Homepage Journal

          The official statement from the first husband and wife team to spend time together in space:

          "No Comment."

          --
          Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
          • (Score: 3, Funny) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:18PM

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:18PM (#708812) Homepage Journal

            No comment my ass. You can bet anything that the little wife told all her girlfriends, in explicit detail.

            Women can keep a secret just as well as men can, but it takes a lot more of them to do it.

            --
            Our first six presidents were educated men. Then, along came a Democrat.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:11PM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:11PM (#708807) Homepage Journal

    If China's station is occupied by any length of time its vacuum seal will be pierced.

    However they could put the station underground. Much of the moon's surface is covered with dust, which would be easy to dig. All they would need is to launch at backhoe into an escape velocity trajectory.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:17PM (2 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:17PM (#708811) Homepage Journal

    but if so, the evidence of this will be on the moon.

    Why? Do you have a time scale? We might presume that the moon arrived well after the seeding took place. We might even presume that the arrival of the moon threatened the seeding operation. Or, maybe the seeders placed the moon there. And, in any case, why would they leave evidence on the moon? You expect to find a Space Odyssey type monolith, explaining the meaning of it all - like a huge "42" imprinted on the moon?

    We're more likely to stumble over an obscure trademark hidden somewhere, than a monolith out in plain sight.

    --
    Our first six presidents were educated men. Then, along came a Democrat.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19 2018, @03:59AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19 2018, @03:59AM (#709201)

      I am thinking we might find some of their old structures and machinery. Probably by now covered by feet of dusts. Similar to our archaeological digs on Earth.

      But little weathering or corrosion, and no plundering and "grave robbing" by the intermediate generations.

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Thursday July 19 2018, @02:11PM

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 19 2018, @02:11PM (#709392) Homepage Journal

        Well, all I can say is, "Good luck with that." I can follow your thought processes. Lord knows there have been more than enough stories with some similar theme. But, I very strongly suspect that if there is evidence on the moon, it has been VERY thoroughly hidden. It won't be under a foot of moon dust, but under a half mile of rock.

        The moons of the larger planets are far more likely candidates for that kind of thing.

        --
        Our first six presidents were educated men. Then, along came a Democrat.
  • (Score: 1) by CZB on Wednesday July 18 2018, @04:05PM

    by CZB (6457) on Wednesday July 18 2018, @04:05PM (#708843)

    Practicalities aside, of course go to the moon! Why say our latest space explorers only got part way to the moon?

    The men who explored the moon are great heros of the past generation. What nation wouldn't want to get their guys there?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18 2018, @06:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18 2018, @06:48PM (#708939)

    All that dust on the moon, just waiting for the taking! What untold riches lie on the lunar surface... if only we could see them from earth.

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