If there is one thing that gets the acolytes of the self-annointed US “New Space” community of space programme prime contractor wannabes excited, it is the prospect of on-orbit fuel depots.
The scenario is this, you launch a rocket with far less fuel than its mission requires and it goes into an orbit that enables it to dock with an in-orbit fuel depot where it fuels up for a mission that it couldn’t do with the fuel it could have carried from the Earth’s surface. Here Hobbyspace.com’s webmaster Clark Lindsey has a think about the New Space strategy and links to some fuel depot info. Personally I think the idea is nuts for low Earth orbit missions, but you may disagree.What about all the rendezvous and docking hardware you have to carry and the fuel needed for an orbital plane change, because your depot and your destination are unlikely to share a cosy trajectory.
For fuel needs way out at L2 or the Moon or beyond it makes sense in-case something goes horribly wrong, but in LEO?
Here Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings promotes his freelance feature for Popular Mechanics about Boeing’s proposals for lunar mission related depots from the AIAA Space 2007 conference.
For a more fun report see space.com’s story about NASA’s lunar rover. Why is this really stupid? Note the EVA suits are a part of the exterior of the rover, how much dust do you think those leg, waist, arm and wrist joints are going to encounter as the rover pile drives through mounds of lunar dust?
And when they enter the lunar suits from the back and unattach themselves from the rover, does the rover’s interior become exposed to the Mon’s vacuum? Who dreamt this rubbish up?
For something a bit more realistic about one of those aspects of spaceflight that doesn’t get mentioned too often, Flight’s sister publication New Scientist has a story about differences in astronaut and cosmonaut stress related illnesses.
Talking of commercial spaceflight cheerleaders, X Prize Foundation has launched its blog with chat about its Google Lunar prize.
And if you’re interested here’s some links reporting NASA’s resurrection of its Blackhole mission and the fact that Space Shuttle Discovery has arrived in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) for its mating with the external tank and solid rocket boosters for its STS-120 International Space Station mission.
NASA has also updated its webpage showing Discovery in the VAB and giving 30 September as roll out day for the Shuttle to launch pad 39A for the 23 October target for lift off.
Pretty obvious stuff, but not quite as obvious as this Aerospace Daily & Defense Report article about a US military general saying that space is important. Really?!!