Russia commits money to research manned lunar mission

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The competition heats up? Russia is apparently going to spend about $7.5 million studying the issues involved with sending humans to the Moon.

This is only a preliminary study. Since Russia can’t even fund its space station work fully, I don’t know where they will get the money for a full lunar manned mission.


  • Orion314

    I’ve often wondered why demonstrating a permanent outpost on the Moon is not a logical 1st step prior to a Mars visitation, and yet, so many argue , BAH , the MOON? Why bother ? Mar’s or BUST! Bust would seem to have a huge edge…

  • Localfluff

    WOW! $7.5mln!??? That’s like a fraction of the cost of a single space suit. God luck Russians!
    Russian officials say stuff. Unreal stuff. Don’t believe any of it. Believe their results.

  • Localfluff

    Yeah, if you want to go to the Antarctic, why not try out your gear in Sahara?

    Your clothing and heating systems. Your sled dogs dragging you on dry sand instead of snow, what difference does it make? And your solar panels are in darkness half a month at a time, hope you charged your battery in time! And half the gravity, so maybe you could construct things in a completely different way. And the dust quality being different. And Mars having weather. And completely different resources on site. As would ALL of the surface equipment. Not to mention that a human transit spacecraft on the would be very different from the Apollo thing. And that the entry descent and landing systems would hav nothing in common.

    The Moon and Mars are both great great destinations for human space flight. But they don’t have nothing in common. The Moon is not a baby Mars. It is a completely different kind of world. Like Antarctica versus Sahara, squared.

    This LIE that the Moon could be a “stepping stone” to Mars, has to be called out. It’s so stupid.

  • wodun

    What would be very useful is a variable gravity station that would allow experiments in simulated Moon and Mars gravity. If this station was at a lunar lagrange point, it could support mission to the Moon and Mars.

    In either case, we should have a robust presence in space to support activities at either location. We might find that living on the Moon is intolerable for any extended amount of time for physiological reasons. However, less than permanent stays supported by a nearby variable gravity space station might work out very well.

    A station like this would be easier to build in cislunar space rather than Mars space, at least for now.

  • Edward

    Moon vs Mars is an old and unresolved argument. Despite the differences, much of what we would do on Mars could be tested on the Moon. Water at the poles could be used as propellant to get to Mars, saving us a great expense of getting propellant out of Earth’s gravity well.

    I do not think that we have an either/or decision, anymore. We now have several companies interested in expanding into space, and one could concentrate on getting to Mars, while another concentrates on supplying lunar water as a propellant source for those Mars missions. SpaceX envisions Mars colonies, and ULA envisions using Lunar resources.
    “Now, that’s a true game changer that will dramatically lower the cost of transportation by as much as a factor of a thousand.”

    ULA, another new company, seems to be willing to break the mold of its heritage space companies, in order to innovate new space hardware, processes, and missions that are not necessarily government customers.

    I think that the world’s governments are soon going to become outclassed by commercial exploration and commercial use of space assets. Right now, the US government spends about half of all the government-spent money on space. Commercial communications has been a major business, but in the past couple of decades commercial reconnaissance has become a growing business. Space tourism is still in its infancy, but it may become rather big, once one or two companies begin to supply suborbital flights.

    Commercial space transportation has begun with SpaceX designing its own rocket per its own requirements and specifications (not a government’s), and is about to become ever increasing with two companies supplying human transport to space. Bigelow Aerospace is set to put manned habitats in low Earth orbit, and these could operate as independent non-government space stations for private research by commercial companies hoping to get a big jump on their competitors for space-based manufacturing of high value products that could be used on the Earth, the Moon, Mars, or other space locations (e.g. cislunar space).

  • Localfluff

    Why not use the Moon and Mars to try out “variable gravity”?
    A planet can hardly have more than 2 G and still a solid surface. So here we have nearby 0.16, 0.38 and 1 G surfaces to walk on. Why build something which does what nature already provides us with for free?

    There’s no need to simulate gravity by rotating space stations. It might be more comfortable for the crew, but they could watch a movie instead if they get bored by weightlessness. There simply does not exist any need for simulated gravity.

  • Edward

    Localfluff asked: “Why build something which does what nature already provides us with for free?”

    It is free once you get there, but the transportation costs are pretty big.

    There is concern that, after several long-term missions in various Skylab, Salyut, MIR, and ISS stations, that astronauts going to Mars may need a few days to acclimate again to gravity, if they travel in a zero-G spacecraft. Trying out variable gravity in LEO could help to confirm this and if it is true can research the minimum gravity needed for the long journey to Mars.

    A relatively simple spinning space station would not look like the toroidal stations imagined in the 1960s (look nice but are terribly expensive to build) but could be made up of six cylindrical modules, similar to ISS modules, connected into a hexagon shape by nodes. Six more modules could be used as spokes to connect it to an axle-node, where the docking and solar array modules would be attached (plus all the zero G modules you want).

    Spun up to 3 RPM would provide 1/6 G, or so (some people start to get dizzy above 4 RPM), and adding additional modules farther from the axle would provide higher-G modules to work in. The spoke modules would provide small rooms that have additional variations in G-forces.

    NASA would likely make this station for an amazingly high cost (note the cost of ISS), but my guess is that commercial companies may be able to build this for $1/2 billion per module, including connecting-node and launch costs (now that launch costs are coming down in price). I’m thinking that we could do this for around $6 billion plus the cost of solar arrays and zero-G modules. Building a similar facility on the moon would be more expensive, and each mission there would cost more, too. Missions to Mars would be even more expensive.

    The main problem with space exploration is getting off the Earth. As a comparison, the Apollo lunar lander ascent module (about 10,000 lbs, fueled) launched itself into lunar orbit, but the Gemini spacecraft (about 8,000 lbs) required a Titan II launch vehicle to get into orbit. It is that difference that makes a lunar base attractive for supplying propellant and raw materials for in-space use, especially for use in routinely getting to a Mars colony. The less mass that we must lift off the Earth — by lifting it from the Moon or a local asteroid — the less expensive space exploration and colonization becomes.

    Space stations that have artificial gravity can be much more productive per astronaut, as we currently assign two hours of daily exercise to astronauts to counter the effects of zero-G. Not only can a spinning space station reduce the time spent away from productivity and recreation, but it may reduce the ill effects that we have found from long-term exposure to zero-G (lost bone mass, especially in the legs, and eye problems ). Thus, astronauts could spend more time in space per rotation, reducing the number of expensive manned launches to rotate them back to Earth for recovery from that environment.

    Increased health, greater productivity, reduced costs for working in space, rather than on a gravitational body. These are three reasons for rotating space stations, despite planetary bodies providing gravity for free.

    We still would want to go to the Moon and Mars. They are interesting places, full of resources. But rotating space stations (and perhaps rotating spacecraft) also have their place in the exploration of — and our expansion into — the solar system.

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