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Old October 15 2012, 06:46 PM   #237
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Envisioning the world of 2100

If we're talking in-situ fuel processing, I would advise against any system that depends on hydrogen; the lunar base is going to need large amounts of it in the form of potable water and possibly as reactant in fuel cells during the long lunar nights.

For one thing, the vehicles that lift off from the moon aren't going much of anywhere else for a long time, so some sort of cheap and efficient monopropellant -- thermite based, probably -- would be ideal. Space craft going TO the moon could use hydrogen as a fuel, but by the time you start having three or four or five hundred people living up there, you're going to be sending such large vessels that chemical propellants are out of the question anyway and they'll be using ion trusters and/or VASIMRs for that (we ARE trying to project towards 2100, right?)

So, turn of the 22nd century: here's our LEO transfer vehicle. Cargo vehicles would be needed as well; both would dock with a large cruiser, something similar to the Nautilus-X, which would spiral out of Earth orbit to reach the moon three weeks later. The cruiser would rendezvous with small transfer vehicles launched from the moon's surface which carry the supplies and personnel back down to the surface facilities that need them.

Ideally, the lunar vehicles would be self-contained ascent/descent stages with a modular compartment; if you're sending supplies, you send a whole MPLM-type module that the LTV can carry down to the surface, the crews unload the goodies and then bolt some furniture to the walls so the empty container is now a new building. If you're sending crew, you have the surface outposts add a personnel carrier to the top of the ascent stage for the trip up and down; that would need to be shipped to them after they setup the base, but fortunately you would only have to send it once, and eventually the lunar facilities would develop the ability to build their own.

HLVs might be required to build those Nautilus-X style cruisers -- though I doubt it. Otherwise, the cargo modules and personnel carriers can be launched from Earth using conventional medium-lift rockets in the Ariane 5 or Falcon Heavy class (crewed vehicles would need an even smaller craft; a Dragon Rider or 2100 equivalent could be launched from a fairly small rocket, or the larger "supercaspule" publiusr likes could ride a Falcon Heavy).
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Last edited by Crazy Eddie; October 15 2012 at 07:07 PM.
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