Monday, June 30, 2008

We're Going Back To The Moon, Yeah!

But why are we doing it in the most cost inefficient way possible? In the 1960's and 70's it was efficient to go in capsules. Today it isn't. Every time we want to go back, we have to build another rocket, capsule and lander!
Okay, lets say you want to drive to California. Do you build a car, go there and come back then trash the car? What if you want to go back again? If we plan to leave astronauts on the moon to set up a moon base, we need a more efficient way of ferrying back and forth. The capsule idea isn't it.

Wouldn't it be better to build a spaceship? I mean a real spaceship, one that stays in space! You fly up to orbit (less fuel) board the space ship, refuel it and fly to the moon.

Refueling a space ship in orbit would take far less fuel than trying to get the whole thing off the ground! Remember, it's in orbit. Less gravity. You just need enough fuel to get out of orbit and to the moon. Heck you will coast most of the way. Then stay in orbit while your lander drops down for a visit, returns and you use the moons gravity to sling your way back home. There you park the ship, board a simple unpowered glider to return home and you've completed a fine mission.
All of which (lander, glider) could be reusable. All you need to do is haul them up and down along with the fuel.
The space shuttle has been carrying more weight than that for years!

Oh wait, here's a novel idea. Keep the shuttles! Yeah, turn them over to truck duty, hauling up and down to the spaceship in orbit. Build more shuttles, we already have the necessary structure in place to do that. No retraining people, no building from scratch, no fuss. Just spend the money you would have spent on disposable capsules on making better shuttles!
They go up, deliver the astronauts, glider, lander and fuel. (one mission - they have a cargo bay) then when the spaceship gets back, they layover at the space station till another shuttle arrives.

Yes, the spaceship can remain docked at the International Space Station until it's needed. Remember the International Space Station? That huge hunk of metal drifting in orbit taking up billions to maintain and doing nothing? Yeah, that space station.

Oh No, we are way to scared to send fuel up, what if it exploded or came crashing down into the ocean and killed some dolphins?
Hydrogen & Oxygen. Thats the fuel. Last time I checked the ocean was made up of the stuff. In an emergency just release it. We can make more.
Okay, sure there is a danger. But safeguards could easily be put into place.

If you have a spaceship you can do more than just go to the moon. Wanna take a trip out to a Lagrange point between the earth and the sun to study it? Just go! Wanna go to mars? Refit it and go. Wanna go out behind the moon, park and listen for signals from space? Go do it! Wanna go behind the moon, where it is radio quiet and do some radio astronomy? There ya go. Hey, you are going to be there anyway.

The point is it's reusable! That means you can use it again and again. Like your car. Only bigger.
Here's a crazy idea, make the fuel for the spaceship on the station, or on the moon! No fuss, no waste to clean up and no explosions killing dolphins... or us!

ALL of the money being spent and will be spent to send disposable capsules and landers to the moon could be used to build a ship in orbit and get more out of it! Duh!

In order to go to the moon the way Nasa is planning it will take rebuilding the Apollo program all over again, only today it will cost waaaaaay more. You have to rebuild the launch pads, rebuild the support systems, retrain astronauts, re-do everything. It will be as if we just started Nasa today!

If we are to truly become a space faring race, we need to start building ships, not one-use capsules. Real space ships. Ships that live and stay in space, that never come back to the ground. Their primary mission is to go places.
We do not need to re-invent the wheel or rebuild a new ship every time we want to do something. That's stupid.

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