MANNED SPACE CONCEPTS
Earth - Lunar Space Infrastructure
Earth - Lunar Space Infrastructure Background
This is ongoing work to define viable concepts for a Earth - Lunar Infrastructure, using Earth to Moon Cycler Spacecraft with inflatable manned modules, Excalibur manned capsules for lunar landings / LEO to Cycler and Lunar orbit to Cycler transportation, a space station using inflatable manned modules at the Lunar L2 libration point, and an Earth to LEO transportation using Single Stage To Orbit spacecraft such as the SKYLON spaceplane, in order to reduce transport costs.
Rather than rely on the usual customers for utilisation, the Cycler spacecraft and Lunar space station are designed from the outset to accomodate space tourists as well as scientific missions, so as to help expand the opportunities for commercial use of space.
Earth Surface - Low Earth Orbit Transportation
The SKYLON spaceplane was chosen as the baseline transportation system, not just because I have been involved with Reaction Engines (the designers of SKYLON), and understand the system, but because when examining the various Earth to orbit transportation technologies, it offers the cheapest launch costs once in service.
I admit I am a big fan of the Excalibur manned capsule concept, however, the Excalibur capsule was chosen in this case for lunar landings / LEO to Cycler and Lunar orbit to Cycler transportation, because when stacked up against the alternatives; Orion, Soyuz, Zond, Almaz and Dragon, it offers the best mission functionality. The alternatives all require separate lunar landers and additional propulsion modules to achieve the same mission functionality that the Excalibur capsule can achieve as a single unit.
Cycler Habitation Modules
The Bigelow Aerospace Inflatable modules were chosen for the Cycler spacecraft and the Lunar Space Station simply because there is nothing else to match them. They offer a significant step forward in the evolution of space habitats based on launch volume, available mission volume and unit costs, which in turn result in reduced transportation costs.
An ISS style truss structure was chosen, since it easily allows additional elements to be attached to the truss, thus providing good growth potential. The truss would be delivered to LEO in collapsible form, then deployed once on orbit.
A large "field" of solar arrays would be used to provide sufficient power for an expanding habitation cluster on the cycler, as well as to provide sufficient power for large communications antennae transmitting high bandwith data.
For more details on the Excalibur Space Capsule (which is surprisingly, not that well known), there are a number of papers published, namely:
- Multi-Role Capsules: Fullfilling their Potential - Mark Hempsell - JBIS Volume 58, Number 11/12 - November/December 2005
- Mission Capture with a Multi-Role Capsule - Mark Hempsell - JBIS Volume 59, Number 6 - June 2006