SpaceDaily Frontpage Apollo 2 Will Take Real Money To Emulate The Original

A mock up of the CEV being built.
By Jeffrey F. Bell
Honolulu HI (SPX) Dec 01, 2005
Many critics say that Mike Griffin's planned Moon program is too much like Apollo to excite anyone. The real problem is that it is not enough like Apollo to be affordable.

For some time now, I have been reading comments on the Exploration Systems Architecture Study. As it is on every issue, the space community is deeply divided. Some love it, some hate it - and Bob Zubrin loves it and hates it simultaneously!

Many critics oppose this project because it "looks just like Apollo", i.e. doesn't involve fancy winged spaceplanes or other radically new technology. These people are wrong. The real problem with the ESAS architecture is that it isn't enough like Apollo. It tries to achieve a major increase in mission capability with spacecraft and boosters that are too heavy, too expensive to develop, and too expensive to operate.

Rocket Redux?

Externally, the ESAS study does look like an uninspiring rerun of Project Apollo. The CEV looks just like the Apollo CSM with solar panels. The lunar lander looks like the Apollo LM with a descent stage bloated up by the shift to LH2 fuel. The overall mission plan is a combination of the competing Apollo EOR and LOR plans. Only the names have changed.

But underneath this superficial similarity, Apollo 2.0 is actually much more capable than Apollo 1.0. It will land 2x as many astronauts for 2-4x the stay time as Apollo 1.0. The basic designs of the vehicles are intended to eventually allow 6-month stays on the Moon (although this would require a buried hab module, since the LSAM has no radiation protection).

Furthermore, Griffin has stated that the ESAS planners started with the requirements for the far-off manned Mars missions and made the Lunar hardware elements capable enough to serve similar roles in the Mars program. This is the reason for the only completely new technology in Apollo 2.0, pressure-fed methane/oxygen engines whose propellants can be synthesized from the Martian atmosphere.

The early hardware elements (CEV and CLV) are also designed to operate in LEO as support vehicles for the International Space Station after the Shuttle is retired in 2010. Currently there is an attempt to speed up development for these vehicles so they can take over this task in 2012 rather than 2014 as currently budgeted.

In my view, it is exactly this multiple-use design philosophy that make this program unworkable and unaffordable. Space vehicles need to be as light as possible. To achieve this goal, they need to be designed for specific functions. The CEV spacecraft developed in the ESAS study violates this basic principle and attempts to do five different missions with minor modifications to a single vehicle. This fundamental error makes the spacecraft too heavy, the boosters too big, and requires an absurd mission profile.

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Trip Into Moon Orbit May Cost Tourists $100 Million
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