Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Spaceref article on ESAS

NASA has released some new details on the ESAS (Exploration Systems Architecture Study) which gives some diagrams of their current plans. While the CEV looks remarkably like the old Apollo Command Module (but on Steroids as some have suggested), and some seem to be poo-pooing the idea because it looks like a rehash of Apollo, I don't really see it as a problem. We know how well Apollo worked and it has some really great advantages. But we also see how we can improve the concepts of Apollo (for example a combination of Earth Orbit Rendezvous - EOR - and Lunar Orbit Rendezvous - LOR - is the prefered mode of travel to the Moon this time). By separating the crew and the payload as much as possible, the Crew launch vehicle (CLV) can be optimized for the task and be made as safe as possible. The Payload launch vehicle does not have to be manrated and can cary more cargo, particularly when combined with the CLV. The CEV is designed around launch vehicles and is worked backwards from what is expected to be needed to fly to Mars, so its ultimate version can carry 6 crew and earlier versions will carry 3 and 4 crewmembers. It can also be used in unmanned mode for carrying pressurized cargo to the ISS or can be replaced on the service module with a larger unpressurized cargo module. Very versatile.

The Lunar Module - this time called Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM) - is designed to use LOX & H2 in the descent stage and LOX/Methane in the ascent stage. Methane is thought to be readily available on Mars so that they can refill the tanks with local resources there. It also uses the same engine as the service module, so presumably, they can restock the SM tanks from in situ propellant resources.

Anyway, lots of neat plans and I think its very logical and very doable with the expected resources. Can't wait to see metal being bent on these designs!


Post a Comment

<< Home