Well, Mr. Bonin’s second part is out, and golly if he doesn’t cover a lot of stuff I had in the post. But if it makes sense, then it’s going to sound similar, isn’t it?
Mr. Mark Whittington, who can sometimes be found hanging out here in the Selenian Boondocks, notes over at the Curmudgeons Corner:
“Grant Bonin concludes his polemic against heavy lift and his case is, alas, unpersuasive. As to why it is, just count the number of times he uses the words “assume” or “assumption” in his piece. Economic analysis based on back of the envelope calculations based on assumptions tend to fall down on close examination.
For a somewhat more rigorous cost justification for ESAS, based on some rather sophesticated [sic] cost modeling systems used by both NASA and the Air Force, download the PDF file on Costs.”
Thing is, Mr. Whittington (Mark) is treading on thin ice. I checked the Bonin piece and variations on assume were in there 8 or 9 times. I then went to the Cost section of the ESAS report and found it over 50 times in the 42 pages. This is of course Section 12 of the report, which itself had a whole section (Section 3) on Ground Rules and Assumptions.
I’m actually kind of interested reading through it, though more than a little bit annoyed. There’s really no good cost numbers for this poor investment analyst to dig through other than some projected (i.e. assumed) performance figures for the beknighted (sorry, I mean chosen. I’ve been reading Mark’s stuff too long 😉 launch vehicles. If there are numbers for $ then they aren’t noted or quantified as such, which I seem to recall is what got MPL in trouble. Are those $Bn, $Mn, $M? (thousands for you non-financial types out there, also $m (for mille), as $M is sometimes used for million)
The Ground Rules and Assumptions section is a little more lively, and quite a bit more interesting.
-We find the long sought after source of Human Rating – NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 8705.2, “Human-Rating Requirements for Space Systems”.
-aborts from the Lunar surface will take no longer than 5 days for return, independent of orbital alignment.
-CEV will deliver crew to ISS till 2016
-CEV will deliver cargo to ISS till 2016
-CEV ground ops will be at KSC
(In the cost section they note that Sytems Engineering and Integration is estimated at 7% of total cost with staffing cap at 2,000 persons as compared with 1,000 to 1,500 in prior crewed programs)
-JSC gets the space ops part
-The Study will utilize the “Mars Design Reference Mission (DRM) known as DRM 3.0, ‘Reference Mission Version 3.0 Addendum to the Human Exploration of Mars: The Reference Mission of the NASA Mars Exploration Study Team EX13-98-036, June 1998′”
(I believe that’s the document found here. It’s where the 85 metric tonne [m.t., ESAS uses mT] lift requirement comes from, and since the Moon architecture is supposed to be extensible to the Mars architecture, well, might as well start out big)
-the architecture supports global Lunar access. This will be done via EOR-LOR as is noted later.
-the architecture will support a permanent human presence on the Moon (but is it sustainable, not just supportable?)
-In-space EVA assembly will not be required [!?!]
-Human-rated EELVs will require new dedicated launch pads
Assuming that we’re going to use the same shuttle launch facilities and equipment, maintained, gives your assumed HLLV a huge head start if the EELV automatically has to build a new facility. I’ve seen those crawlers they use. Those things are decrepit and the massive tread pieces are cracking. There’s no way to tell from the numbers presented if new crawlers are priced into the cost of the system but I’m guessing no.
Another interesting tidbit: Foreign assets utilized in LV configurations in this study will be assumed to be licensed and produced in the U.S. (Again, is the cost of establishing those facilities for producing the “Foreign assets” baked into the equation?)
The Summary also informs us that “Initial analyses eliminated libration point staging and direct return [lunar surface direct to Earth surface, I assume] mission options”. The Lunar Surface Activities section doesn’t really tell us a whole lot about Lunar surface -activities-.
There’s a lot of stuff to chew on in the report and I recommend strolling on over to SpaceRef.com to check it out for your self. Please note some of the .pdfs are pretty big. It’s kind of fun to read through and see where they don’t really want to talk about something because they use the same phrases like ‘too demanding’ or ‘too complicated’.
I’ll be back in a little while after I’ve had a chance to digest it a bit more. I’m wondering about some of the delta-V figures, and why in the Summary they bend over backwards talking about LOI and TEI delta-Vs, as well as plane changes, but not the delta-V for TLI, nor the delta-V to/from the Lunar surface. I’m also working on a future piece about the assumptions underlying Direct Trajectory, which itself underlies a lot of choices in the space field.