Just some quick additional notes to my last post. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to transfer these over from Open Office to google spreadsheets.
- A direct, unrefueled Atlas V 401 launch could just barely put a 4500-4750lb capsule into LUNO, but that’s even smaller than the 5000lb capsule so many have been complaining about.
- Most of the criticisms of the 5000lb capsule are based on comparisons to much much older designs, that weren’t exactly apples-to-apples either. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m right. If anyone with actual manned flight hardware experience wants to weigh in (even anonymously), I’d like to hear what you have to say. Anybody can look stuff up on Mark Wade’s site (and then misinterpret it), but it takes some real engineering skill to truly analyze a new proposal–skill that’s unfortunately beyond my experience too. I’m not sure the idea would work, but I think it’s feasible.
- If you really don’t think a 5000lb capsule is possible, you could do a 10klb capsule by doing a three-launch architecture with two Atlas V 401 flights, and the Delta-IVH flight. The second Atlas V 401 flight would transfer a full load of propellants into the Centaur of the manned Atlas V 401 flight, which would then send the capsule to the moon. The Delta IVH flight would’ve been launched previously, and would deliver the lander to LUNO via a WSB trajectory.
- If the 95% propellant fraction and 1.5x Centaur size numbers are right for a ICES stage, a single un-refueled Phase I Atlas V 401 could deliver a roughly 9000lb capsule into low lunar orbit. Some of that 9000lb payload would need to be used for the TEI burn, but it’d still give probably about 7klb for the capsule itself.
So, there are still some options, but if you want to go 100% with stock boosters, finding a way to get that 5000lb capsule to work would make it that a lot easier. If you aren’t going with stock boosters, you’d be better off using on-orbit propellant transfer to the maximum extent possible anyway.
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