If it is SSTO you are inferring as something akin to the first flight then….that might be valid. The problem is simple physics. We live in a gravity well of a certain depth on a planet we don’t want to pollute with any nuclear propulsion byproducts and thus are right now restricted to chemical propulsion. Not expending anything on a launch is this benchmark that is not that meaningful in terms of dollars. Since “going cheap” is why the NewSpace fans seem to think it is meaningful it is more a P.R. tool than anything else.
In my view beam propulsion is the technology that will allow a “space-liner” to take off from Earth and escape Earth orbit with only onboard propellants. This will require a Space Solar Power infrastructure as a “second stage”, actually, as a second and third stage.
If you are not familiar with beam propulsion it essentially beams energy from the ground or space to the spacecraft to superheat a propellent (most likely hydrogen) to a very high Isp.
Okay now. what part of Musk telling NASA what he has to offer them in the way of launch vehicles is what they can take or leave do you not understand?
As I explained, this weird mix of John Galt entrepreneurial miracle and let-Musk-do-it-all-because-NASA-is-the-enemy is why NewSpace is..as has been stated..the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration.
I understand you are unhappy and want to bounce this off the imaginary audience the fanboys are always performing for here. But I am not buying it.
Let us move on to other things Vlad; The Electoral College just proved America is not a Banana Republic. Not yet.
Let’s go there and talk about a Green New Space Deal.
Generals are supposed to be very high IQ people- or so I was told when I was in. Yet we have Michael Flynn. And people in a service that has zero risk talking about how great it is to take risks.
They need to disband on the 21st and reform on the 22nd as the Space Corps and also identify what arena they are going to send people to and earn the prestige and privileges of a military service- and leave the taint of who signed them into existence behind.
I would strongly suggest, at a minimum, to designate all Nuclear Launch Officers as Space Corps. Not much risk there as long as the world is not going to end, but it is a start.
Sitting on your behind at a satellite terminal on a base in Cali or Colorado and saying “bring it on” is B.S.
Not a great plan in my view Vlad. It could work I guess- if there are volatiles trapped in the ice allowing methane to be reformed. But the mass penalty compared to a semi-expendable robot Lunar Lander would be very high. Not to mention refueling a starship in LEO is a long, long, way away. If ever.
That New Shepard, on the other hand, has the makings of exactly what is needed. Carried by an iteration of the SLS, a robot lander based on New Shepard could be “dropped on the biggest ice deposits on Luna.”
Space Corps on the Moon….?
An “instant base” is not going to happen without massive radiation shielding though. And even after there is shielded living space there is the problem of debilitation. I would say the best first step is true shielded space stations in frozen Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) with tether-generated artificial gravity. These space stations would allow astronauts to ride back up from a subsurface Moonbase, shielded on the ride up at least, to periodically rehabilitate in 1 gravity. They might accrue some dose on the way back down unfortunately. This might, ideally, allow an astronaut a very long career in cislunar space instead of quickly accruing a career dose and suffering permanent tissue loss.
Hmmm. I don’t think that is how it is going to work. The ice is going to be shared and not sold by private parties. This “claim” thing might have had some validity in the 1800’s but not now. Ice resources will be exploited for water that can be used for radiation shielding and sustenance or split for oxygen to breathe or for propellants.
What I think you are basing your causal train on is some kind of “market.” There is not going to be a market up there in cislunar space for a long time. Think about why we will be in cislunar space. Why? There are, in my view, three probable different “raison d’etre” :
1. A Green New Space Deal that makes Space Solar Power the focus of solving the climate change crisis. In which case trillions will get thrown at creating a cislunar infrastructure and turning the Moon into a factory manufacturing solar power satellite components. This would be great and I am praying for it.
2. The whole smallsat constellation concept turns out to be a disaster and it is instead decided to create large shielded human-crewed platforms in GEO to replace the failed Earth orbit satellite junkyard. In this case these GEO telecom support platforms would require hundreds of thousands of tons of water as shielding and this could be lifted from the Moon for 20 to 25 times less energy than from Earth. This would solve many problems (they would be invulnerable to a Carrington event) and create a pipeline for Lunar Cyclers and true Spaceships.
3. The Nuclear Deterrent of the superpowers is relocated into deep space on “space boomers.” These U.S., Russian, Chinese, French, and British spaceships would also need at a minimum several hundred thousand tons of water for shielding and also Moonbases to support their fleets. This would realize the impossible dream of removing nuclear weapons from the Earth, ratchet down the launch-on-warning risk, and also provide planetary defense against impact threats. And also enable exploration missions Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit.
Or…All three at once. The water would be distributed to these projects by international agreement. It would not be the wild west.
If these 4 spacecraft- the two American taxis, Russian, and Chinese, can all dock to a simple multi-connector airlock, then up to six can all dock together at once. No need for the ISS. In fact, several of these simple “locks” could be up at once and would be semi-expendable. No need for the ISS. The experiments can be moved from one capsule to another if needed. Enough data on long duration human effects has been gathered so there is no need for the ISS. There never was really. It is a huge waste.
A “true” space station would provide a Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity environment (NSLR1G) by using a massive water shield and tether-generated artificial gravity. Such stations are a waste in LEO and would start in a frozen Low Lunar Orbit (where they would be filled with lunar water from Robot Landers) and then NRHO and GEO or serve as Lunar Cyclers and as “true” spaceship compartments.
Calling the ISS a “space station” is not really appropriate. I believe the correct term should be Orbital Platform or “O-P”. They stopped serving any useful purpose in LEO decades ago.