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#1 2007-03-02 00:01:57

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

oe.jpg

With the upcoming launch of Orbital Express some of the needed technologies to create an orbital fuel depot will be tested. A recent Space Show interview with Dallas Bienhoff from Boeing gave a detailed picture of how such a deport could support Lunar and Mars missions. By refueling the Ares V EDS and the LSAM in orbit, far heavier payloads can be delivered to the surface of Moon and Mars. The orbital depot would be supplied by cheap Falcon 9 class vehicles with LO2/LH2 and provide it to docking spacecraft through standard interfaces.

Two such depots would be available to support the planned two lunar missions per year as well as other customers such as transfer tugs providing LEO to GEO services. These deports would operate commercially, buying from suppliers and selling fuel to   customers from any country.


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#2 2007-03-02 06:58:20

GCNRevenger
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From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Fueling up the Ares-V EDS ey? Do Mars with three rockets instead of six perhaps.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#3 2007-03-02 07:24:18

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,729

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

This would need lots of reinforcing to keep from going bang when debri would strike it.

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#4 2007-03-02 07:44:22

cIclops
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Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Fueling up the Ares-V EDS ey? Do Mars with three rockets instead of six perhaps.

Yep, it should double the capacity of Ares V. EDS arrives at LEO half empty, refueling it and the Mars vessels on orbit allows far more dry payload to be carried.

This would need lots of reinforcing to keep from going bang when debri would strike it.

Bienhoff addressed this problem in the interview (good listen BTW) by saying that several tanks would be used and that LO2/LH2 would just vaporize if released. Nearly all debris is tiny, it just drills through.


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#5 2007-03-08 18:56:13

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,729

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

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#6 2007-03-09 09:44:16

RedStreak
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From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Sounds like an interesting concept and I hope it works.

What kind of orbit would this thing be in? LEO I assume?

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#7 2007-03-14 08:38:17

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Stone Aerospace Announces Formation of a Company to Establish a Commercial Refueling Station in Low Earth Orbit

On March 10, 2007, at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference in Monterey, California, Dr. Bill Stone presented a briefing entitled “Pushing the Limits of Exploration on Earth and in Space” to over 900 attendees. In the briefing, Stone announced his intent to be the first explorer to lead an industrial team to the moon to explore for water and other fuels, and, if found in sufficient quantity, process the fuels on the moon, then transfer them to a low Earth orbit (LEO) refueling station. The commercial enterprise will provide a variety of fuels and life support compounds, such as water, liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen, gaseous oxygen and hydrogen, and potentially nitrogen and methane at market prices to space farers on a first come, first serve basis.

Ambitious business goal.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#8 2007-03-16 02:46:34

cIclops
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Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Hermes could herald in-orbit satellite refuelling

DATE: 13/03/07
SOURCE:Flight International
By Rob Coppinger

Funding for a satellite servicing spacecraft programme called Hermes is being discussed by the European Space Agency, German aerospace centre DLR and developer Kosmas Georing Services.

Hermes includes a 350kg (770lb) "utility agent" vehicle that would transfer station-keeping fuel to a communications satellite in geostationary orbit or attach a rocket motor to reboost its orbit.

The refuelling service would cost up to €10 million ($13 million) per 50kg of propellant, and Kosmas says the utility agent could refuel up to three satellites. Satellite refuelling would require a special coupling costing €5,000. One part would be fitted to the fuel valve of the customer satellite before launch and the utility agent would carry a second part.

The utility agent could also attach a Kosmas-developed Kinitron rocket motor to the client satellite to boost its orbit. Each motor would cost €5 million and carry 50kg of propellant, and would itself be refuellable, the company says.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#9 2007-03-16 06:55:11

GCNRevenger
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Stone Aerospace Announces Formation of a Company to Establish a Commercial Refueling Station in Low Earth Orbit

On March 10, 2007, at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference in Monterey, California, Dr. Bill Stone presented a briefing entitled “Pushing the Limits of Exploration on Earth and in Space” to over 900 attendees. In the briefing, Stone announced his intent to be the first explorer to lead an industrial team to the moon to explore for water and other fuels, and, if found in sufficient quantity, process the fuels on the moon, then transfer them to a low Earth orbit (LEO) refueling station. The commercial enterprise will provide a variety of fuels and life support compounds, such as water, liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen, gaseous oxygen and hydrogen, and potentially nitrogen and methane at market prices to space farers on a first come, first serve basis.

Ambitious business goal.

He's also "pushing the limits" of credibility.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#10 2007-03-16 20:56:49

samy
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From: Turku, Finland
Registered: 2006-01-25
Posts: 180
Website

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

So did Edison and Marconi...

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#11 2007-03-16 21:48:18

GCNRevenger
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From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

So did Edison and Marconi...

...Neither of who were really scientists, and neither of them made major breakthroughs, only really gaining fame by taking existing technology out of the lab and into the public's consciousness and hands. And really mainly that by luck and skill at salesmanship, not genius (as the famously self-absorbed Edison would disagree).

But I digress... the world is changed from these days of the ancient inventors, and yes I honestly and un-rhetorically mean ancient, that the world of the 1900s is so fundamentally different scientifically, technologically, and in general the complexity puts them in a wholly different era. Comparisons are thus irrelevant.

"Pushing the envelope" of technology then and technology now are entirely different, particularly with space travel: the "envelope" of space travel is largely defined and constrained by the basic and unchangeable laws of physics, unlike the Wright Brothers or Marconi and so on. It takes X number of joules to move a mass of payload from here to there against gravity/inertia, and the lightest fuel in the universe generates Y energy per kilogram. There is no cleverness or genius or any way at all to cheat or slip around or sneak your way past the cold, unchanging numbers.

And these numbers say that its hard to do what this guy proposes.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#12 2007-03-17 02:18:17

cIclops
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Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

If successful, John Carmack and Elon Musk could compare with Edison and Marconi. From the point of view of invention in Carmack's case and salesmanship in Musk's. There still is plenty of room for such people: Sony, Gates, Ellison, Jobs etc etc all started big technology based businesses from scratch. All you need is luck, a really good idea, more luck, great business skills and even more luck. Producing LO2 on the moon and selling it in LEO will need a LOT of luck.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#13 2007-03-17 02:18:33

samy
Member
From: Turku, Finland
Registered: 2006-01-25
Posts: 180
Website

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Neither of who were really scientists

Fine, fine, if you want to nitpick, I can provide...

Tesla

Go diss him.

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#14 2007-03-17 07:03:03

GCNRevenger
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

If successful, John Carmack and Elon Musk could compare with Edison and Marconi. From the point of view of invention in Carmack's case and salesmanship in Musk's. There still is plenty of room for such people: Sony, Gates, Ellison, Jobs etc etc all started big technology based businesses from scratch. All you need is luck, a really good idea, more luck, great business skills and even more luck. Producing LO2 on the moon and selling it in LEO will need a LOT of luck.

Hah, I don't think there is any risk of Carmack ever succeeding. I can just imagine what will happen when they have their first casualty.

But anyway, the fact that its so hard technologically to pull off Lunar propellant mining/delivery and profitably means the objective probability of all conditions being met (capable, reliable, profitable) is low. Therefore, it will take an unrealistic amount of luck, exponentially greater than these other "big wig" names. Exponentially because for each "hard" thing you add, a given engineering project becomes far more difficult than the sum of the requirements individually.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#15 2007-03-17 07:33:03

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Right. First there's the cost of the on orbit deport ... then the cost of developing and transporting the ISRU equipment and return cargo tanker to the lunar surface. The cargo tanker probably needs to be reusable, also it will use a lot of the fuel shuttling between the Moon and LEO (9.4 kms/sec return - which is more delta-v than lifting fuel directly from Earth).  All this requires new technology and is therefore very RISKY. It's hard to see how any money can be made  at all.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#16 2007-03-17 09:50:48

GCNRevenger
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

I am not sure I would go so far as saying "new" technology beyond the ISRU plant, but yes it is a crazy idea that depends on an unrealistic level of reliability and efficiency.

If you are an AltSpace outfit that really really really want to make something new that bends the rules, then augmented jet engines, combined-cycle rocket/jet engines, or the nifty inflight LOX generator chilled by extra liquid hydrogen would help.

Anybody remember what happend to "4Frontiers"?


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#17 2007-03-17 10:46:49

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

I am not sure I would go so far as saying "new" technology beyond the ISRU plant, but yes it is a crazy idea that depends on an unrealistic level of reliability and efficiency.

These are just some of the new technologies needed:

On orbit fuel depot: low boil off and in space 0g cryogenic fuel transfer

ISRU: just about everything including - automated regolith / water ice handling in low gravity vacuum with large variation in temperature,  high power generation & storage for two week night period; fuel transfer to cargo tanker on the lunar surface - all this in a dusty environment - a reliability nightmare

Cargo tanker: capable of multiple automated precision lunar landings


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#18 2007-03-30 11:45:49

cIclops
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Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

VIDEO: In-orbit video from US military's Orbital Express vehicles' robot arm camera

DATE:30/03/07
SOURCE:Flightglobal.com
By Rob Coppinger

The video depicts the global mated survey of the US department of defense's  Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Orbital Express on-orbit demonstration's two spacecraft by the arm camera.

Orbital Express consists of a pair of satellites, the ASTRO servicing vehicle and the NextSat demonstration client vehicle. The video was created from 1,600 still pictures taken by the mission's camera on March 28.

Orbital Express is in the midst of a three-month demonstration mission to validate the technical feasibility of robotic, autonomous on-orbit refueling and reconfiguration of satellites.

Impressive demonstration of inspection capability by this servicing vehicle.


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#19 2007-04-01 21:31:37

Martian Republic
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From: Haltom City- Dallas/Fort Worth
Registered: 2004-06-13
Posts: 855

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

I would like to add, that as long as we intend to use chemical fuels to go to Mars, it never going to be efficient to go to Mars, because you have to use too much fuel to get there and then back to Earth. Even with Robert Zubins plan of Mars direct will only improve this so much. It a matter of the physical limitation of using chemical fuels in the first place. This is in addition to the other problems already mentioned.

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#20 2007-04-11 10:56:10

cIclops
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Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Ball Aerospace’s NextSat Delivers First-rate Performance

To date, OE (Orbital Express) spacecraft activation checkouts have been completed along with a robotic video survey of the vehicles, successful demonstrations of autonomous refueling with the Fluid Transfer System, and robotic transfer of a battery Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) between the ASTRO and NextSat/CSC.


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#21 2007-07-05 01:59:23

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

In-space satellite servicing tests come to an end

BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW
Posted: July 4, 2007

Military officials will quietly put the revolutionary Orbital Express mission to sleep this week after three months of highly successful demonstrations to test the concept of robotic satellite-to-satellite refueling and in-space repairs.

The mission wrapped up its final task Friday when the ASTRO servicing spacecraft used its Canadian-built robot arm to reach out into space to snag NextSat, a craft posing as both a supply depot and a client spacecraft in the mission.

The crowning moment of the $300 million mission came after a daring rendezvous scenario that separated the two satellites by seven kilometers, or more than four miles.

Orbital Express is managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's primary research and development unit.

After completing mission operations, controllers immediately began planning the decommissioning of the two satellites.

Engineers at the Orbital Express control center at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., will be responsible for turning off the satellites later this week.

The spacecraft are scheduled to fly apart Thursday and separate to a distance of up to 1,000 kilometers, or about 600 miles. Leftover propellant on ASTRO will be dumped overboard to safe the satellite, and engineers expect to decommission the computers by Saturday, said Jan Walker, DARPA spokeswoman.

Documents released to the media before launch expressed the possibility of extending the mission beyond the original nine scenarios planned for DARPA. Tentative plans called for the U.S. Air Force Space Command to use Orbital Express for up to four additional scenarios, according to the documents.

"We had discussed the possibility of NASA or the Air Force perhaps conducting additional experiments following the end of the DARPA demonstration mission," Walker said.

Walker said both satellites have more available lifetime, but NASA and the Air Force opted not to participate in further tests using the spacecraft. Both craft were certified for a life of up to one year.

"Once we determined that NASA and the Air Force had no additional experiments that they wished to conduct, we decided to decommission the satellites," Walker told Spaceflight Now.

Atmospheric drag estimates predict NextSat - the lighter of the two satellites - will reenter Earth's atmosphere in three to five years. It may take up to 15 years for the heftier ASTRO to fall back to the planet, Walker said.

Orbital Express closed out its four-month mission by packaging all its previous tasks into a single three-day scenario incorporating long-range rendezvous, proximity operations, a robot arm capture, and mated commodity transfers.


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#22 2016-05-09 21:13:22

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,729

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

We have talked about this topic in lots of others and here is at least word on contracts....
NASA awards Paragon with In-space Fuel Depot technology study

received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from NASA to provide a unique solution that will extend the life of cryogenic upper stage rockets. The useful life of a standard upper stage is no more than a few hours.
The thermally isolating structure is a key piece to allowing systems to operate for weeks or months on orbit, giving upper stage platforms additional flexibility for payload maneuvering and deployment timing as well as direct use of upper stages for commercial and scientific use.

The proposed solution will provide NASA with an isolation solution between manned and unmanned spacecraft while allowing for the necessary structural characteristics for station keeping attitude control and telemetry on orbit.

The technology has direct application to both NASA and commercial launch vehicles as well as proposed cryogenic depot platforms, enabling the orbital refueling stops identified by NASA as the long term approach to deep space manned missions to Mars and beyond.

"We are honored to once again partner with TRLA and provide NASA and the space launch community with a unique and innovative technology that will make exploration of deep space safer, and more reliable for all," said Grant Anderson, Paragon President and CEO.

"We intend to prove that our solution will not only extend the on-orbit life of propellant depots but also provide increased mission flexibility for future NASA and commercial space exploration missions," added TRLA President Maxim de Jong.

The technology is complimentary to the recently-announced launch and orbital environment protection system for cryogenic tank acreage that Paragon and TRLA won in March. With this solution, the isolation and protection of cryogenic stages is a one-stop acquisition for upper stage or payload manufacturers.

Paragon and TRLA are actively engaged with industry partners to provide several cryogenic solutions that will support a range of applications for deep space exploration.

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#23 2016-05-09 22:03:24

Excelsior
Member
From: Excelsior, USA
Registered: 2014-02-22
Posts: 120

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

With the price of launch plummeting thanks to Elon's amazing reusable rockets, these are looking much more viable than they used to.

Considering a fuel delivery system is little more than a second stage with some extra plumbing, and the on-orbit or on destination utility of the second stages pressurized volume, the dream of a fully reusable launch system is all but realized.

Of course the MCT will once again overturn the table on space architecture, but only thing really lacking is a Bigelow module sized for the Falcon Heavy. It could probably match the ISS in volume on a single launch.


The Former Commodore

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#24 2016-05-10 09:29:40

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,078
Website

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

We've had long-life propellant storage for decades with NTO and hydrazine blends.  The Russians have been transfers of these at ISS for some years now.  The tricks are figuring out how to store cryogenics for long periods,  and to transfer them.  I'm very glad to see this being worked upon. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#25 2016-05-12 10:02:38

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: On Orbit fuel depot

Do you really see us building an "ISS" every ten years with multiple launches to carry four astronauts to Mars. Remember the Mars One Crew Manual?
s-l1000.jpg
How many Shuttle and Energia launches did they say it would take to launch the thing? I used to have that book. The way the mission was profiled, you spent a decade building it in orbit, and I think you launched 6 or 7 astronauts from orbit, most of the launches involved lifting fuel tanks into orbit, and an engine. the engine was a conventional rocket engine that burned liquid hydrogen with stored liquid oxygen, it used off the shelf 1980s technology. And the ship was one use only, it would stage and cast off parts as it used up the rocket fuel, the astronauts would stay on Mars for about a Month in a MEM that looked like this:
Mars_mission.jpg
The mothership would wait in orbit, perhaps doing rendezvous with Phobos, keeping the astronauts left in orbit busy, why the astronauts on the ground did some exploring and rock collecting, then the upper stage of the MEM would blast off into orbit, carrying astronauts and rock samples to orbit, and the Mother ship would head home, I think with a flyby of Venus on the outbound leg to get them to Mars for the direct insertion back to Earth one month later. By the time the crew got back to Earth, all that would be left would be a capsule going splash in the ocean, and then work would begin over the next ten years for the next mission to Mars. Does this sound like a good plan or what?

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