Gary Michael Church
When comments were being made on Dr. Paul Spudis’ blog recently about alternate shuttle histories I contributed a possible future scenario;
There is always the possibility of Hillary campaigning on a U.S.-Russia-China joint program to relocate the global nuclear arsenal into deep space on human crewed spaceships.
Step one is send Super Heavy Lift Vehicles with wet workshop upper stages and robot landers into lunar polar “frozen” orbits.
(a) Robot landers go down and land on the ice,
(b) harvest water and turn some of it into propellent,
(c) go back up and transfer the water to the workshops for shielding,
(d) repeat till workshops have full radiation shields.
Step two is send the military astronaut technicians to occupy the workshops and begin work.
(a) Assemble the workshops into spaceship configuration,
(b) receive the “pits” and other pulse and weapon components and process them,
(c) test the weapons and pulse units and their respective target and propulsion systems,
(d) send the spaceships into deep space on patrol.
Step three is to continue lunar orbit operations by utilizing a part of the spaceship construction as GEO space stations. The stations transit back across cislunar space to GEO, replace the present satellite junkyard, and capture the over 100 billion dollar revenues of that industry.
So instead of the nuclear powers spending that several trillion dollars on new submarines, bombers, and ICBM’s, they spend it on spaceships that will not only be a much safer deterrent, but will also be able to defend the Earth from asteroid and comet impacts, and explore the solar system. A giant leap in global connectivity, the end of the space debris problem, and an infrastructure poised to begin the ultimate international public works project- Space Solar Power. And eventually that power utilized for beam propelled commercial space transportation on the scale of commercial air travel for space colonization.
Are you ready for Hillary, the queen of outer space?
I would add the NewSpace Mob rages at any mention of state sponsored Super Heavy Lift Vehicles employed for Moon return but it is actually far easier to accomplish reusability with a Moon rocket. Consider that governmental resources could first fund development of the really big pressure-fed boosters that could enable a vehicle with 15 to 30 million pounds of lift-off thrust.
A) Dropping a pair (or more?) of these “methane monsters” in the ocean and recovering them like the space shuttle SRB’s will work. Any doubts?
B) The core hydrogen stage reaches Earth escape velocity and heads for the Moon. At this point the core engine package separates from the wet workshop, and with it’s own heat shield, self-wrapping seawater-proofing system, etc. continues on a free return around the Moon and a week or so later parachutes into the ocean like the boosters for recovery. It would be a shame to waste that free return.
C) The empty wet workshop stage with robot lander attached inserts into lunar orbit using the large ascent engine of lander (this engine has sufficient power because it has to lift a load of water up to the workshop).
D) Robot lander separates and descends using a pair or more of smaller variable thrust engines.
Launching six of these missions a year for ten years would put the equivalent of 60 giant crew compartments each with more interior space than the ISS in lunar orbit for about the cost of the shuttle program.
Plenty of variations on this theme of course. The point being that small cheap rockets with clusters of low thrust engines are not the miracles they are being advertised as. Using them to take lego blocks and a few gallons of gas at a time into LEO is a dead end. They are actually pretty useless for Human Space Flight Beyond Earth Orbit.
There is no cheap.