SSI Space Manufacturing 14: Space Transportation Session

ULA fuel depot

Space Transportation Session

Chairman: Gary C. Hudson, HMX Inc.
“Earth to LEO Roadmap: Technologies and Possibilities”

Dallas Bienhoff, The Boeing Company, and Jeff Goff, Altius Space Machines, Inc.
“Top Ten Technologies for Reusable Cislunar Transportation”

Joe Carroll, Tether Applications
“Tether Sling Concepts for LEO and Beyond”

Gary C. Hudson, HMX Inc.
“Earth to LEO Roadmap: Technologies and Possibilities”

— Key problem: getting to LEO is prohibitively expensive — need routine, reliable access to orbit
— The problems are NOT technology, NOT “destinations” NOT HLV, NOT enabling legislation, NOT spaceports per se
— We don’t necessarily heavy lift
— Sea change in NASA’s attitude…NASA opposition no longer a problem, but Congress hasn’t caught up….
— Biggest problem is market demand
— Other problems….single-use LVs are costly and they reduce reliability
— We’ve tried everything….nothing has worked…nowhere close to affordable LEO transport…
— Big problem — “It’s the standing army, stupid!” Group needed to build and launch ELVs..
— ULA and SpaceX have built new rockets but not fundamentally reduced cost to orbit…
— Difficult to bridge the gap with private investment…large investment would not bring in much additional revenue…
— ISS resupply, propellant depots, debris cleanup, tourism can help create markets…
— long-term solution: space settlement
— Changes required:

  • no major technical breakthroughs necessary;
  • breakthroughs that reduce risk and cost;
  • end to space being a jobs program, respect for the private sector;
  • sensible engineering and science-based legal regulation;
  • financial risk is global economic collapse…”very serious deep structural problem I’m not sure how to fix”. Will the dollar be worth anything in three months?
  • availability of risk capital and investor patience (a role for NASA);

Technical needs:

  • active cooling
  • high reactive engines
  • reusable launch systems

Achievable Goal

  • RLVs could reduce cost to $500 per pound

Dallas Bienhoff, The Boeing Company
“Top 10 Technologies for Reusable Cislunar Transportation”

— Architecture was developed during the Augustine Committee period — talked to Jeff Greason about what would be needed
— Aerocapture transport system that moves between LEO and L1 – another system that goes between L1 and near the moon — another system to take it back and forth to the moon…
— Takes twice as long to get to the moon — 6 days instead of 3 days for Apollo…
— Twenty five tons of cargo
— Put in place to use lunar propellant

Top 10 Technologies Required

10. variable mixture oxygen/hydrogen space rocket engine
9. low-g and zero-g O2/H2 liquefication
8. low-g water electrolysis
7. deep space autonomous rendezvous and docking (AR&D)
6. Aerocapture (slow down in LEO using atmosphere in order to save propellant)
5. life-life reusable O2/H2 space rocket engine — engines that can operate for years on orbit
4. Aero-assisted entry, descent and landing (AEDL)
3. Long-term zero-G cryogenic storage
2. Zero-g cryogenic fluid transfer
1. Zero-g cryogenic fluid management

Proposed NASA Budget

— pushes a lot of the technology developments into late 2020s…


— Need to put up an element per year to get this done in a reasonable amount of time
— About a billion dollars over three years for the tech development in NASA authorization

  • refueling and storage
  • propellant depots, insitu resource utilization

Joe Carroll, Tether Applications
“Tether Sling Concepts for LEO and Beyond”

— most of the work with tethers will be done in low Earth orbit….nothing ambitious things will happen in lunar orbit until it happens in LEO…

— Four “wild cards’ for ETO Transport:

  • mid-air capture of multi-ton payloads — recover rocket stages
  • collecting and recycling aluminum alloys in space
  • high delta V slings in LEO to throw payloads
  • artificial gravity research facility

Mid-air Capture

— if you can capture first stage for reuse, then large rockets (which can’t be recaptured) may not make much sense…
— most important thing for future of rockets could be parachutes and helicopters…

Collecting and Recycling Aluminum

— 2,100 tons of debris in LEO – 1,000+ tons is aluminum allows
— recycling “barely extraterrestrial” alloys

Electrodynamic Propulsion

— can be used for LEO debris removal or collection — can drag it down to lower orbit
— Russian policy is that debris in orbit should be reused — they own 72 percent of the mass of orbital debris
— could collect debris with electrodynamic tether…accumulate them in higher orbit and then recycling them…

High Delta V Slings/Tethers in LEO

— Tethers can make a huge difference in moving cargo in LEO, lunar orbit and around Mars…
— Tethers are heading in direction of being full reusable in a way that rockets cannot be…
— Rotating sling can send a lot of payload beyond LEO
— Rockets are like ships (large payloads, different routes) while slings and tethers are like railroads (set routes, repeated trips, smaller payloads)

Manned Artificial Gravity Research Facility in LEO

— Panama Canal was as much about mosquitoes as it was about Earth moving
— Success of space will be very reliant upon human impacts in reduced gravity…also plant biology in reduced gravity
— can people reproduce normally, stay healthy for years at a time, etc.
— 0.6 Gs may be an optimal reduced gravity condition for humans

Tether Experiment

— Soyuz spacecraft attached to second stage booster
— Similar test was done on a Gemini-Agena mission
— Might do a test with a SpaceX Dragon capsule and second stage

Q&A Session

Joe Carroll: Need to lessen ITAR export restrictions or there will be no U.S.-led international commercial space efforts — there will be projects led by foreign entities with U.S. as a customer