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Moon NASA Space Science

Russia Talks Moon Base With NASA, ESA 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the sheer-luna-cy dept.
milbournosphere writes "Russia and NASA are reportedly in talks to create a base on the Moon. They're looking to create either a facility on the Moon itself or a permanent space station in orbit around the moon. 'We don't want man to just step on the Moon,' agency chief Vladimir Popovkin said in an interview with Vesti FM radio station. 'Today, we know enough about it. We know that there is water in its polar areas,' he added. 'We are now discussing how to begin [the Moon's] exploration with NASA and the European Space Agency.'"
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Russia Talks Moon Base With NASA, ESA

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  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:54PM (#38798953)
    If we'd gone with the original plan for space exploration, we'dve had a (small) colony on the moon, an orbital transfer/construction station in HEO, and a manned landing or 3 on Mars by 1985. Problem was, there just wasn't any way to put a man on the moon by 1970 if we'd done it that way. Upside is, we'dve had a reuseable lunar lander, just refuel, preflight, and go. We went with Apollo instead because it was the quick and dirty solution.
  • Re:Why the moon? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:58PM (#38799013)

    A) It's (relatively) not that big of a gravity well, and
    B) It's pretty close to here for easy construction and resupply,
    C) It's easier to protect it and its occupants from radiation and asteroids, and
    D) There might be water available nearby, precluding the need to ship at least one thing up there constantly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:11PM (#38799123)

    Since it seems like you do not Google, let me Bing it for you: here [bing.com]. It's just not feasible [colorado.edu]. And actually it had been discussed here as well. [slashdot.org]

  • I like this idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by k6mfw (1182893) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:17PM (#38799217)

    Of course neither country has a strong infrastructure to build such an endeavour (they act like they do but it all looks pretty dismal). However, far better than discussions on building up missile bases aimed at each other (i.e. ABM site in Poland, Russia countering that with additional missiles).

    Another to consider is Russians are essential for USA space program (and other way around). NASA was created because the Russians launched first satellite. Apollo program was created because the Russians launched first man in space. Shuttle was created because Russians still flying spaceships. ISS was created because we partnered with Russians (Space Station Freedom never got off the ground because no Russians involved). VSE, Obamaspace, SLS, and derivatives going nowhere because it has nothing to do with the Russians. Well there is the USAF space command, maybe they're still countering the Russians.

    So if you are going to do a big space program... don't forget the Russians. Of course some will say don't forget Russian spies but so what else is new. If you are a country you gotta deal with spies, like server owners have to deal with spyware.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:30PM (#38799417)

    Although an orbiting moon base makes for a quicker return to earth vicinity

    No, actually it doesn't. transfer orbit for LLO to Earth takes just about as long as a transfer orbit from Luna surface to Earth.

    The major problem of a moon base, or simply visiting the moon, is the problem of fuel expenditures for lift off. For all the Buck Rogers si-fi we've written, we still can't carry enough fuel to get out of sight. Any system we have for getting off of the surface amounts to a zero-backup, Hail Mary. There is no plan B.

    Umm, no.

    One possibility is to use that lunar water to manufacture LH2/LOX + O2 for use by the base (LH2/LOX mixtures typically don't include enough LOX to burn all the LH2). So, LH2/LOX fuel, Isp 450 more or less, depending on engine design. Assume 420 to allow for generous margin of error.

    DeltaV required from Lunar surface to enter an orbit that'll drop you into the upper atmosphere is ~2.4 km/s.

    Allow for 80% extra fuel, which should be sufficient for an abort anytime up till you actually enter lunar orbit - 4.4 km/s.

    A 420 Isp for 4.4 km/s deltaV requires a mass ratio of less than 3.0. Two kg of fuel for every kg of spacecraft/cargo. Which is pretty easy to achieve, actually.

    Alternately, you use Al/LOX. O2 is easier to come by on Luna than H2, since you can find oxygen in the compounds making up the rocks. Ditto Aluminum. Isp is crap, but fuel density is much greater, so you need much smaller fuel tanks. Higher mass ratio, of course.

    Which would be the best course is a matter for professionals, of course. But either option is doable, and either vehicle could be developed before we could get a base on the moon to deliver it to.

    Of course, if you're really looking for exotic solutions, there's always an escape speed mass driver on the moon. Gives the loonies something to bombard Earth with later, also...right, Mike?

  • Re:Why the moon? (Score:5, Informative)

    by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:52PM (#38799635) Journal

    If you spend too much time on the Moon, or in space for that matter, you could easily find yourself in a position where you're no longer able to stand the gravity of the Earth.

    We understand zero/microgravity's effects on human beings pretty well. That said, the longest we've ever had a human on the Moon is 3 days--not really long enough to study anything. One of the things I wish we'd have been able to study on the ISS is the effect of various levels of gravity and their effect on humans. Unfortunately, that capability was cut. [wikipedia.org]

    Zero-G/Microgravity is not all that great for human beings. As I understand it, besides muscle issues (ie, not using them), there's also bone-loss. I believe these are dealt with on ISS via a combination of exercise and drugs. The problem is, we don't know how much gravity is necessary. Would 0.5G be enough? 0.25G? 0.16G (ie, lunar gravity)? Do we need gravity the whole time? Could we, for example, put beds in a 1G centrifuge so people get eight hours of 1G while they sleep but spend the rest of their time in Zero-G with no ill effects?

    These are things that need to get figured out.

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:12PM (#38799805)

    The Moon is too unstable for human underground habitation and strip mining is still the best way to mine if you can get away with it.

    The moon is virtually dead geologically [utk.edu]and has been for 3 billion years. "the energy associated with the Earth's seismic activity is about 10^14 times larger than that of the Moon"

    (Dark side of the moon; more mining friendly?)

    You do realize that it's not really dark, right? It is only "dark" in relation to the Earth, not the sun.

    For shielding, why not use lead plates, bet yet gold

    So you want to lift large amounts of very dense materials (or rare) from the earth to the moon rather than use the materials that are already there and adequate? I guessing you recently received your MBA.

  • by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:15PM (#38799829)

    The usual assumption by people who have worked on it seriously (I'm one of them, retired from Boeing, did advanced space studies while there), is you set up a habitat module, which is your Space Station type pressurized cylinder, and then over that you place a quonset hut type arched structure, which you pile lunar regolith (surface rocks and dust) on top of for shielding. Depending what level of shielding you want, it needs to be around 1-3 meters. Given the Moon's gravity, that's equivalent to 16-50 cm on Earth, which is quite reasonable. Your airlock, antennas, and such would poke out of the lunar dirt.

    The other thing burying your habitat does is protect it from landing craft. The rocket exhaust from them tends to throw any loose dust around at high velocity. Even if you pave the landing pad itself, there will be loose dust around that.

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Monday January 23, 2012 @11:31PM (#38800739)

    As opposed to what? Lifiting an entire mining operation, its machinery, all the associated supports you take for granted on Earth, plus all the people and their support systems? What is it about space that turns brains off?

    No, sending up remote or self controlled tunneling machines, preferably made of lighter materials like aluminum and titanium. I would think that the only limitation to the amount of space you can carve out would be limited by the mean time between failures rather than not having enough high density building material. Once something like this is in place you keep replacing parts as they wear out rather than continually shipping dense materials. Since this is presumably meant to be something long term as opposed to planting a flag and leaving. Granted, the up front cost probably would be more, but in the long term it's cheaper than continually lobbing gold at the moon. What is it about /. that stops people form being able to read more than the first sentence of a summary?

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

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