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posted by martyb on Tuesday July 25 2017, @10:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the this-is-progress? dept.

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


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by kaszz on Wednesday July 26 2017, @12:07AM (5 children)

    by kaszz (4211) on Wednesday July 26 2017, @12:07AM (#544371) Journal

    That module seems quite small to be suitable as somewhere to stay for longer periods. Considering there's a lot of stuff to store in terms of food and life support. And how will they build the radiation protection? the radiation in LEO is a health concern. The radiation at the Moon is terminal whenever the Sun gets a sneeze. The Apollo missions were lucky any longer term stay will not have that luxury.

    As for radiation protection, 4 meters of structurally stabilized (heated) moon dust or asteroid rock will likely do it.

    So "test and training model" is likely to be pretty much what it can be. Playground in LEO, nothing more. But if they dare to make it rotate, it could be used to get bio data on sub-1G human performance. For which there is NO DATA presently. No experiment proposal whatsoever and it will still be essential for any long term Mars stay.

    Though.. nice for Lockheed Martin to get thrown a bone now that SpaceX seems to p0wn space launch ;)

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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by takyon on Wednesday July 26 2017, @12:14AM (4 children)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday July 26 2017, @12:14AM (#544376) Journal

    How can we get superheroes if we're not routinely exposing scientists and astronauts to radiation sources?

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Wednesday July 26 2017, @12:33AM (3 children)

      by kaszz (4211) on Wednesday July 26 2017, @12:33AM (#544387) Journal

      There's a difference between being a hero and doing the suicide thing that can be avoided. And where death has no benefit for any party.

      It's known there's lethal radiation spikes regularly. It's known how intense these peaks are and how to build radiation protection to mitigate it. So it seems foolish to not do what's needed and just get done with it.
      There is a cost, but then there's also time to do it smart so it won't cost too much. Send either water or borated polyethylene. Another approach is to use the Sun radiation to partially melt blocks of Moon dust or rocks and send into space using a solar powered mag-drive. And if there's easy water on the Moon then that could be collected and shoot into orbit to be collected and filled into tanks.

      • (Score: 4, Touché) by PartTimeZombie on Wednesday July 26 2017, @12:40AM (1 child)

        by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Wednesday July 26 2017, @12:40AM (#544392)

        Found the guy whose never read a comic book.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday July 26 2017, @04:08PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday July 26 2017, @04:08PM (#544698)

        > There's a difference between being a hero and doing the suicide thing that can be avoided.

        Supernatural selection has an odd habit of rewarding extremely careless people who really deserved to be killed.
        No wonder we keep having to rebuild cities.