Foo - What would you guess it would cost to do a private manned lunar landing and return?
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08-25-09, 03:55 PM
Salvaged Saturn V - 3 billion $
Saturn V overhaul - 10 billion $
Fuel - 6 million pounds - 22 million $
Lunar Module/new - 1 billion $
Assembly building and launch pad rental 15 million $
Ground tracking - 10 million $
Crew/training - 5.5 million $
Recovery/USS Ronald Reagan rental - 50 million $
Miscellaneous/box lunches/cigarettes etc. 20 thousand $
Cost overruns - 6 billion $
Golf balls/flag - 20 dollars
Total - 20.1 Billion $
You forgot permits. There's bound to be permits required. Add another couple billion.
08-25-09, 04:06 PM
Solution, make your own units. The trip to the moon costs one moon trip unit.
08-25-09, 04:23 PM
I wonder which would be cheaper...
multi stage rocket, like Saturn 5, that basically makes a one shot from earth to moon and back.
launching all necessary equipment into earth orbit to make a lunar lander, which will return to earth orbit and be picked up by a shuttle or the ISS.
Even within the space community, that gets debated back and forth quite a bit. Large rockets have really large development and infrastructure costs, but they reduce overall mission complexity and are generally more mass efficient. Smaller rockets are less expensive, but there's more opportunities for things to go wrong when you need multiple launches.
You wouldn't want to pick it up with the shuttle or the ISS. That takes extra fuel. A trajectory from the moon to the earth puts you at LEO altitude moving 25,000 mph. The shuttle goes 17,500 mph. You'd have to burn enough fuel for to change your velocity by 7500 mph, and you still need the shuttle or something else to get to the ground. Instead, you do it Apollo style and just carry your re-entry capsule along with you. All of that velocity change comes from drag in the Earth's atmosphere. It's free except for the beefiness of the heat shield required.
08-25-09, 04:29 PM
Anyway, with a promising, but unproven company like SpaceX attempting it and willing to accept huge levels of risk, perhaps $5-10 billion just to put footprints down. They're developing a rocket that could theoretically lift enough mass for a minor fraction of that, but they'd still need an entry capsule (Dragon can't without major upgrades), earth departure stage, and lunar lander as a bare minimum, plus demonstrate the ability to reliably rendezvous in orbit. They'd also need the infrastructure to launch 4 to 6 of their largest rockets in short enough succession that they don't have issues with hardware in orbit while waiting for the rest of the hardware to be launched. Developing and testing all this stuff isn't cheap.
Of course, that's not in the same class as NASA's proposed $100+ billion Constellation program. NASA's plan is to land missions with twice as many crew as the Apollo missions, with a risk level lower than the shuttle, staying on the surface 5 times as long or more, with the potential to build up an outpost capable of being permanently manned. After the program was running, additional missions would run around $2-3 billion each, assuming we did two per year.
However, right after the program was mandated by Congress and Bush, despite knowing when that approval was given that it would take small increases in NASA's budget over the years, they both cooperatively started reducing NASA's budget. In real dollars, NASA currently gets a little under half the money it had during the height of the Apollo program. In percent of the federal government's budget, NASA currently gets about 1/8 what it had during the Apollo program.
We could definitely do it, but only if we as a nation are willing to put our money where our mouth is. If we were willing to pay, in terms of the fraction of our paycheck we would give up, just 1/4 what our parent's paid for Apollo, we could be there before 2020 with missions that would eventually establish a permanent presence on the moon.
By 2030 we'd have conducted up to a dozen targeted missions to the most scientifically interesting spots all over the moon, many of which the Apollo missions couldn't reach. We'd also have a major outpost at one of the poles, conducting daily research over a 30,000 square kilometer area and testing new technologies for "living off the land" by producing oxygen and building materials, perhaps even rocket fuel. We'd do this work in cooperation with international partners, who could help share some of the costs, foster deeper relationships, and be part of the nearly 100 engineers and scientists who would follow in the footsteps of the dozen Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon.
And at that point we'd have tested most of the technology and infrastructure needed to support a manned Mars program; Not a single mission, but a sustainable program capable of visiting every two years if we so desired, while still maintaining the option to keep the lunar outpost active.
I don't know. How much are those D size Estes rocket engines going for? :P
I like the pain pill idea.
08-25-09, 11:47 PM
$9.63. Walmart PRICE CUT!:p
Don't go letting on that I brought you back to life on the condition you can't practice magic, and have to work as a greeter at big shop.
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