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Mars Moon Space

NASA Mulling Earth-Moon L2 Point for Mars Staging Station 186

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the my-religion's-in-space dept.
jamstar7 writes "From the article: 'NASA is reportedly mulling the construction of a floating Moon base that would serve as a launching site for manned missions to Mars and other destinations more distant than any humans have traveled to so far. The Orlando Sentinel reported over the weekend that the proposed outpost, called a "gateway spacecraft," would support "a small astronaut crew and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars."' This is actually a good idea, using the Moon as a staging base for exploring the cosmos. Once we build manufacturing capability there, why not build spacecraft there? We can build bigger, more spacious craft so as to not lock up future astronauts in a closet for months or years at a time." Moon base isn't quite accurate: it would be a space station at the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrange point about 60000 km from the surface of the dark side of the moon.
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NASA Mulling Earth-Moon L2 Point for Mars Staging Station

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  • by Genda (560240) <marietNO@SPAMgot.net> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:21AM (#41461783) Journal

    By the way, the L2 point is not on the dark side of the moon (the dark side of the moon travels around the moon every 28 days), it is on the FAR SIDE of the moon, that is the side facing away from earth.

    My question is why L2 and not L1? L2 is going to be exposed to more meteoric traffic, it will have a hard time communicating through the moon to the earth (yeah you can put a comm satellites at L4 or L5 but that's complicating things and adding cost and new failure modes.) That and L1 is closer and easier to get to from Earth and easier to get things to from the moon with the gravitational assist of Earth.

    There are plenty of interesting designs, but such a resource would need to be built of lunar material. Because you'd need a structure with walls thick enough to protect from solar storms, cosmic rays and all kinds of meteoric debris hitting the structure. You would probably want to have hydroponics plants on board for food, oxygen, and synthetic meat from Soybeans... or even better synthetic meat from a 3D printer, endless Filet Mignon, sushi grade Yellowtail and Salmon, and Turkey White and Dark meat as long as you have cell cultures and your meat printer. By the way, you could dissolve vital minerals in water and then use that water to build radiation proof walls. About 3 feet ft. would get the job done nicely, 6 ft would be spectacular. You'd want to harvest a reasonable sized asteroid with plenty of water or a number of smaller asteroids and use it/them to build your base. You'd want to use a swarm of assembly bots to build things with only a small human presence, most remote from the ground. Robots that could self replicate from materials in the asteroids would be perfect.

  • by multi io (640409) <olaf.klischat@googlemail.com> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:33AM (#41461839)
    The part of the dark side that you would see from L2 would be REALLY dark though, because it would not only NOT receive light from the sun, but it would also NOT receive light from the earth. Effectively, it would only be lit by starlight, which is almost nothing. That's in contrast to the part of the dark side that you can see from earth, which is never totally dark, because it receives earthlight.
  • by art6217 (757847) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:52AM (#41461921)
    A trip to L2 is said to take longer but be cheaper per kg than that to L1... http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1808/1 [thespacereview.com]
  • by Megane (129182) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:12AM (#41462021) Homepage

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point [wikipedia.org]

    lrn2orbitalmechanics, it would be orbiting the earth along with the moon.

    Not only is it relatively stable (though a halo or Lissajous is usually used), but the relative sizes are such that the moon does not fully eclipse the earth, so continuous communication is available.

    It's a lot more sensible than a lunar ground base. Not only isn't there a gravity well, but the Lagrange points are the easiest places from which to leave earth orbit with minimum energy expenditure. If you have a fuel stockpile there, you can top off the tanks and all that fuel goes to the trip, not climbing out of the gravity well.

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:46AM (#41462163)

    Why not put it in LEO (low earth orbit)? It's a hell of a lot easier to send supplies and astronauts. We have decades of experience with that.
    Also, why not use the ISS? It has all you need, I think: astronaut habitat, power, docking ports. Add a few modules, and you're done.

    All this talk about either the moon or L1, L2... unless there is a source of fuel (i.e. water, as well as a source of power like sunlight or nuclear), it's utterly pointless to drop yourself into another gravity well, not matter how tiny, if you're gonna have to carry all the fuel there yourself from earth. If the fuel comes from earth, your space station is nothing but an assembly point, and that might just as well be in low earth orbit.

    The only reasonable alternative is one of those craters on the moon where they have found some water... but only if a station there can get sufficient power to convert that water to hydrogen and oxygen at conditions (temperature, pressure) that are necessary to be put into a large rocket.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:47AM (#41462167)

    A lot of the "basic research" comes from applied research aimed at a specific goal, the spin-offs from that basic research is what provides the expanded benefit.

    Hypothetical goal: L2 staging base
    Hypothetical applied research: supporting medical facilities there.
    Hypothetical spinoffs: remote surgery, 0 G surgery, remote sensing, microrobotic surgery... and reduced medical costs on earth.

  • by hackertourist (2202674) <(ln.tensmx) (ta) (tsiruotrekcah)> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @08:26AM (#41462463)

    If I'm not mistaken, ISS is in the wrong orbital plane for planetary missions, so you'd waste a lot of fuel.

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