This article is supported by brilliant org, as I’ve said many times on this channel. We are entering an exciting new era of space travel, a whole new space race with private flight companies, and today I thought it’d, be interesting to talk about space stations and what’s? Cool about space stations? Is you know they serve as a place where astronauts can hang out and make observations of the earth perform experiments on whom space trouble and and learn about how to do things in zero gravity and microgravity and weightlessness? And they can examine, you, know, repair and maintenance procedures that can affect the parabola or the trajectory of the hypotenuse.
Okay, it’s, not the most exciting subject compared with launches and propulsive landings and starships and dragons yeah. A floating collection of tin cans in space, doesn’t, really inspire the tingles, but it’s more interesting than all that, for example, did you know that there’s, actually three space stations in space? Right now? Oh hello.
Mr. asterisk, what could you possibly mean? Two of them are actually unoccupied prototypes from Bigelow Aerospace, the galaxy one and galaxy two they were launched in 2006 2007 respectively. They only actually were operational for a couple of years, but they’re still floating around up there and NASA is using them to kind of examine the viability of expandable stations.
But of course, when it comes to inhabited space stations, the ISS is the big dog. In fact, it’s, the only dog, a very lonely dog. There are a handful of other long-term space stations that have graced our skies, including the Skylab and Salyut programs of the 70s and 80s, and mirror the 90s.
In fact, the success of the ISS owns a lot to the Russian space station programs that they, you know double down on, while the US was doing the moon thing. But each of these programs taught us important lessons about living and working in space, which is important stuff that we’re, going to have to know how to do.
If we’re ever going to set up any kind of permanent presence outside of Earth and the thing about living, is it takes time you know, while the orgy of exploration that happened in the 60s, when we went to the moon was exciting, it Wasn’t sustainable.
Achieving sustainability in space requires long-term living and working out there solving little after a little problem over and over again until you get it down and after 20 years, NASA is ready to finally put up a new Space Station.
But this one has a twist: this one is going around the moon and it’s. Gon na do a whole lot more than just house astronauts. It’s called the lunar, orbital platform gateway and it & # 39. S meant to serve not only as a way station between Earth and lunar bases, but also to Mars and beyond it’s also got a Bing and album on Spotify.
The main purpose of lot G and really any long-term lunar mission is to learn how to live outside of the Earth’s magnetosphere, our magnetic shield protects us from a huge amount of solar and cosmic radiation and how that radiation will affect us when We move outside of that is a huge question mark that and a million other question marks and as much as we all want to get to Mars.
The fact of the matter is people on Mars are gon na be completely on their own. If something goes wrong, there’s, no way to help them out, so you can think of lunar missions as a big testing ground for Mars colonization.
Where any you know, mistakes that are taking place. You know on the moon there’s, help relatively close by, especially if there’s, some kind of infrastructure between the earth and the moon, and that’s, where a lot of G comes in Bob G is part of The Artemis program, which is NASA’s, mission to land and stay on the moon by 2024, Artemis being the Greek goddess of the moon and the sister of Apollo and the plan for Artemis, looks something like this.
Artemis Moines will be an uncrewed flight around the moon with Orion capsule from the SLS. This will test the Orion capsule systems and the SLS and along the way it will drop 13 satellites to gather data for additional missions.
This is planned for this year. 2020 fingers crossed in 2020, Artemis scheduled to go up. This will basically be similar to Artemis, one only this one will carry four crew members around the moon. Much like Apollo eight went around the moon first before we landed in Artemis.
Three is when we finally land humans on the moon again, this is scheduled for 2024 and after that, pending success and budget allowances. Nasa plans to launch astronauts to the moon once a year following that.
These regular launches will bring habitats and resources to the moon to set up a permanent moon base. A permanent moon base serviced by an ever-present lunar space station. Bob G will be comprised of seven to eight modules, including a propulsion and power module, a couple of habitation modules and airlock storage and a logistics and utilization module along with the Orion caps.
It’s, much smaller than the ISS closer in size to the MIR Space Station and it’s made to house up to four people, but like the ISS. It’s. An international project involving modules from ESA JAXA, Rus cosmos and, of course, Canada, providing the robotic arm because Canada is all about they were about AG army, help offset the cost of the program.
Even more NASA is working with 11 private companies to build and service a station, including SpaceX and Blue Origin, with their blue moon lander. These companies will be involved in landing, providing fuel and resources Rovers and other science experiments as well.
The point is: if we’re going to stay on the moon, we need some kind of pipeline of resources to support it. Some kind of infrastructure that’s. What Lobby is designed to do flights will come from Earth and rendezvous with the station from there, astronauts will be able to refuel or drop off materials and then getting the surface of the Moon as simple as crawling into a lander and popping down to the surface.
When it’s time to go back home, you just boost up to the station move over into the Ryan capsule and head back home. It’s like the moon’s, valet service, it’s, not right. There, in the name lunar orbital platform, it’ll, serve as a platform to coordinate the transfer of astronauts from the space environment to a lunar environment.
Now the second half of the name, the Gateway part well, for that we’re gon na have to talk just a little bit about orbits, and I do mean a little bit, because a lot of this is way over my head and not a Little bit over my head either like like GTO the Nerds get down one, we haven’t noticed how almost all launch is launched along an eastward trajectory that’s, because when it comes to spaceflight any amount of velocity, you can get Your hands on you need to take advantage of, and the Earth rotates in an eastwardly direction.
So if you could take off around the equator, you could get 1038 miles per hour, velocity right off the bat, which is also why most launch facilities are closer to the equator, where their spins the fastest.
So with that in mind, look at the moon. It’s out there, reflecting light, making werewolves orbiting the Earth at 2288 miles an hour, and if you were going to travel out to Mars or beyond that’s, a lot of velocity.
You could use so a weigh station orbiting around the moon would not only give you that velocity from the moon, but the velocity of the station orbiting around it, and this has been the idea behind the lunar gateway concept for a long time now to use all Those velocities to slingshot a craft out into deep space like a Giants based trebuchet plus the gravity.
Well, the moon is way less than the gravity well the earth, so you would have a lot less energy expended just to get outside of that gravity. Well, as Joe from it’s, okay, to be smart covered in a recent article now granted, you still have to escape the gravity well of Earth in order to get to the moon.
But if we were able to make fuel on the moon in situ, then we could refuel in orbit around the moon. Have that extra velocity and a full tank of gas on the way out to Mars so ya. Lob G kills two birds with one stone.
It serves as both the lunar platform and as a gateway to deep space. Hence the two-part name. So now that we & # 39, ve got the rationale behind lap G. Let’s. Just take a look at the cold, hard numbers here.
Some estimates have put the cost of the Artemis program to be around 150 billion dollars, which, ironically, is about exactly what the Apollo program would have cost when adjusted for inflation. That’s according to an article that I’ll link below there’s.
Actually a lot of projections at this point. It’s. Gon na require for SLS launches to assemble 400 tons of modules and equipment up there in order to create lap G and just to put that into perspective, it would take 20 Falcon 9 launches to put that much up there.
That just gives you an idea of how powerful the SLS actually is. Now the downside of the SLS is, of course it doesn’t currently exist, and there will be a lot of things to figure out along the way. For example, we’ve, never assembled any kind of spacecraft around another celestial body before so we can expect some delays in this whole process, but the upside is all this stuff is stuff that we’re gon na have to do when We go out to Mars anyway, so once again it’s, a matter of figuring it out here.
First and one of the things we’ll, be figuring out is the orbit, which is super weird. You know, while the ISS just kind of skims along the outside of the Earth’s atmosphere in a circular orbit. Lap G is gon na be doing something very different.
Lop G’s. Orbit is elongated extending out thousands of kilometers from the moon, making the astronauts on board the furthest distance in human has traveled from Earth before far enough away that they’ll be able to have the first view of all of the moon and all The earth at the same time it’s, called the near rectilinear halo orbit or in Rho, and it doesn’t just orbit in an extreme ellipse.
It also twists into a butterfly shape, using the EML one and EML to Lagrange points to keep it stable like points or areas where the moon and the Earth’s, gravity kind of even out orbiting. This way will save a lot of fuel over time, plus it will provide a little extra oomph for those deep space missions that I was talking about, and it will make it so that the station has never behind the moon and out of communication with the earth.
Construction on lab G is scheduled to begin in 2022. About the same time as the Artemis tube mission, the first launch I put out the power and propulsion module followed in 2024 with crew habitats. That will be happening at about the same time as the crude landings on the moon and after that is planned to launch new equipment every year until it’s finished in 2026.
Now I know what many of you out there thinking right now. You’re thinking, 2026. What about starship two which of my responses? I mean yeah if SpaceX is able to do everything that they plan to do with the starship and make it land on the moon and be totally reusable and everything does that make the orbital platform obsolete.
And yes, that’s, an interesting question – and there are a lot of ifs in that statement, but basically, what it comes down to is anything that lands on the moon at this point is gon na have to be reusable and the Apollo days.
The lunar lander was completely expendable. In fact, it was made up of two different stages of descent stage. In an essence stage, the descent stage stand stayed on the moon and the essence stage. You know went up and recombined with the command module and then that was eventually discarded as well.
Now, if we’re, really gon na be setting up a permanent base on the moon, we can’t just be leaving half of the lander behind every single time. We land the place would become overrun with landing legs, so it & # 39.
Ll have to be reusable and it’s, not an unfair question to ask like what’s? The point of that. If we have a ship at that time, that’s actually got more room in it and can land and be completely reusable as much as we want, and the fact is, this idea does have its detractors.
The list of attractors includes former astronauts like Commander Terry Virts, commander, Eileen Collins and the one, and only Buzz Aldrin Robert Zubrin from the Mars Society in space journalist, Ethan Siegel disagree with the space station strategy saying we should just simply put a reusable lander in orbit Around the moon – and it would do the same thing – this station is not an asset, it is a liability.
The general consensus among them is that it’s too big. It’s too expensive, and it’s too distracting from what we should be spending our resources on, which is moon bases. The SLS for all its power is gon na cost, two billion dollars per launch and every single piece of it gets thrown away after one launch.
You know at a time when SpaceX and Blue Origin are both reusing rockets and both have plans for reusable Saturn 5 sized rockets on the way it kind of feels like the whole paradigm, has shifted a little.
Is this entire program out-of-date or could it possibly evolve to become more reusable because they are going to be working with private companies who are already working on the renewable stuff? Could it actually benefit the Artemis program in that way, or will they just bypass it all? Together or maybe there’s, an argument to be made that again it’s worth doing all this stuff here around the moon, so that when we get to Mars, we & # 39.
Ll have all this technology perfected. By the time we get there like, maybe we’d, be doing ourselves a huge disservice by not doing that. So I’ll mount this on to you. What do you think of lob G? Do you think it’s? A sound investment: do you think it’s, a good strategy or like me, are you just happy to be seeing something happening? Finally, debate it in the comments and if orbital mechanics stuff that I brought up in this article gives you a headache you might want to try taking an ibuprofen and when you’re done with that, maybe check out the classical mechanics course.
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