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Gateway fantasies from NASA

NASA has released an updated plan for building FLOP-G, now officially dubbed “The Gateway.”

The article provides a bunch of NASA’s typical powerpoint slides, detailing when they want to do what, with the first Gateway module launched in 2022 and the first manned mission to it in 2024.

None of this will happen as they wish, however, because NASA can’t build anything on schedule or on time. Also, there is this key detail, mentioned merely as an aside in the article: “A commitment of funding for the gateway project is still forthcoming.”

Congress has not yet funded this. Unfortunately, I expect them to do so, but I also expect that none of the funds will ever be sufficient, and that the project will drag on and on, for years on end, with little accomplished, at least by NASA.

The plan as outlined does incorporate the use of commercial vendors to supply cargo. In the end, I expect this component to be the only thing ready and able to fly, when needed.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • wayne

    Star Trek: The Libertarian Edition
    ReasonTV, 2016

  • wayne

    not to exclude our Star Wars fans….

    Star Wars Libertarian Special
    ReasonTV, 2015

  • Localfluff

    The Getintheway station.

  • mkent

    Having read the source article, I’m far less negative on The Gateway than I was before. There’s a bit of sense in it. Before supporting it further, I’d like to see 1) the architecture divorced from the SLS and Orion, as those vehicles will never be worth their tremendous cost, and 2) the docking port architecture. This station needs to refuel and resupply re-usable lunar landers to be truly useful. I notice that the Gateway is itself refuelable — that’s good — but it needs to support re-usable landers to be an actual gateway to somewhere.

  • Localfluff

    A lander without the Getintheway space station would do the trick, much cheaper and better. SLS and Orion are designed to carry a Lunar lander, and so it should do. The Orion isn’t refuelable and will be destroyed after each use. How will the fuel for the lander get to the Getintheway? Why not fuel the lander without the Getintheway? There are no plans to use it to refuel any lander, nor is there any plan to build any lander. This is being done INSTEAD OF the lander.

  • Calvin G Dodge

    So they renamed it? Can I take some small part of the credit for this due to my nickname for it? (FLOP-G)

    Meanwhile, “Gateway To Nowhere ™” has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

  • mkent

    …SLS and Orion are designed to carry a Lunar lander, and so it should do….

    SLS and Orion are expendable vehicles. In-space infrastructure such as a lunar lander doesn’t have to undergo re-entry and should be able to be made re-usable relatively easily. The Gateway should serve as a docking / refueling / resupplying station for the lander in between missions. The idea is that the lander stays at the Gateway when the crew returns to earth on the Orion (or hopefully a less-expensive re-usable crew transport vehicle such as a hypothetical Dragon 3 or CST-200).

    The Gateway refuels the lander and provides keep-alive power, attitude control, orbital reboost, and thermal control while waiting for the next landing crew. Such a crew would arrive by transport, restock the lander with supplies and mission-unique equipment, close the hatches, and fly down to the moon to perform their mission. When the lunar mission is over, they return to the Gateway with their booty. The same or a different crew can perform science experiments on the returned samples right in the Gateway labs, and the samples with the most interesting or unusual results can be sent to Earth on the crew return vehicle for more extensive study.

    That’s the architecture I think we should be building. Even if the initial Gateway is somewhat limited, the architecture should allow us to build out to that configuration without having to start over. If it does, I’ll support it. If all it can do is support a single non-landing crew for an extra week once a year, then it’s not worth the expense. IMO.

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