Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Still Relevant: Paul Spudis Comments on VSE at ISDC 2007

The Vision for Space Exploration - Quo Vadimus? (PDF) - Paul D. Spudis at the 2007 International Space Development Conference - It's from May 2007, but it's completely relevant today. Some excerpts:

Build-up space-faring infrastructure
Robotic precursors lead the way

NASA relationship to the private sector must be decisively transformed to implement the new Vision

NASA and the private sector - Some specifics from the Aldridge Commission Report
NASA should contract for services where possible (e.g., LEO access)
Independent technical, cost and innovation oversight
Use contracting authority and other incentives to nurture reinvigorated space industry
Seek international participation and investment in VSE

What is NASA Doing Wrong?
No robotic exploration after LRO (Ed. note: This has changed, but not nearly enough.)

Ares launch system
  • All the disadvantages of Shuttle-derived with none of the benefits

Agency still unclear about "mission" on the Moon

  • List of reasons to go to Moon are unfocused and peripheral; a catalog, not a rationale

Creating a space-faring infrastructure

Reusable and serviceable systems in cislunar space and planetary surfaces
Extracting useful products from planetary materials
Handling and using cryogenic fluids in microgravity and on the Moon
Transportation architectures and nodes in cislunar space
Comm, navigation and data systems; extend GPS to cislunar space

If I were king…

CEV: Develop launch system alternatives

  • Shuttle-C, EELV, new commercial
Create incremental robotic "presence" on the Moon
  • Orbiters, soft-landers, rovers to survey and prospect
  • Engineering tech demos for ISRU, habitat placement, site preparation
  • Infrastructure emplacement: landing pads, roads, hab sites, power and thermal control systems

Use private sector to augment capabilities for both of above

  • Per Aldridge Commission recommendations; greatly expand data purchase, LEO access contracts, prizes
  • Need to re-build aerospace industrial base

Sustainability: An Alternate Concept

True Shuttle-derived + commercial

  • 2 Shuttle-C side-mount launches to L1 staging node
  • CEV adaptable for Shuttle-C, EELV, or commercial LV
  • ISS used for technology research, demos (e.g., experimentation with cryogenic liquids in microgravity)

Early and continuing robotic presence

  • Use robotic missions to establish presence on Moon, characterizeresources, demonstrate processing
  • Multiple and continuing series of robotic missions maintains program momentum, new discoveries, prep for humans
  • Develop large cryo-based lander (lunar "Progress");2 mT delivered to lunar surface
  • Prepare outpost site for human arrival

Pace program to available resources

  • We’ve survived previous "human spaceflight gaps"
  • If major goal is to revitalize aerospace industry, must create incentives for them to investIR&D in program (e.g., tax breaks, prizes)

Primarily, this is NOT about money

  • It’s about understanding your "mission"and a determination to do it cleverly, despite obstacles

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