Onorbit operations in nearEarth orbit a necessary second step

The concept of the train yard as a center of operations for switching, long-haul train assembly, transfer of goods, refueling and repair is applicable to a space marshaling facility. The remoteness of space parallels the remote bases on the Earth's surface where the environment forces significant logistics operations to include propellant, cargo, repair parts, pilot accommodation, structures and support items. The late Frederick ("Bud") Redding formed a company, In-Space Operations Corporation (IOC) to exploit his orbital servicing and crew rescue vehicle (Space Cruiser). As originally conceived in 1980, the Space Cruiser was a low-angle conical hypersonic glider based on the McDonnell Douglas Model 122 (BGRV) experimental vehicle that was flown in 1966 [Hallion, 2005]. As initially conceived, the Space Cruiser had a length of 26 feet and could be folded to a 13.5 foot length (see Figure 5.26). Redding adapted the design to incorporate an aft plug cluster engine configuration and storable propellants to create 13.3 kN (3,000 lb) of thrust. The 4,453 kg (10,000 lb) vehicle performed a variety of missions using the 8 cubic foot forward payload bay and the 4 cubic foot aft payload bay. The Space Cruiser is capable of atmospheric entry and uses a small drogue parachute at Mach 1 followed by a multi-reefed parafoil to land safely on any flat surface. The Space Cruiser was intended to be operated by a pilot in an EVA suit [Griswold et al., 1982; Redding et al., 1983; Redding, 1984]. In 1983, Redding modified the configuration to an elliptical cross-section thus expanding the propellant quantity, as shown in a McDonnell Douglas Corporation Trans-Atmospheric Vehicle (TAV) artist illustration in 1983, Figure 2.25. This particular configuration is based on a hypersonic glider research vehicle proposed to the United Sates Air Force in 1964. It has sufficient volume and cross range to act as a three-person rescue vehicle. The Space Cruiser is an LEO service vehicle that can utilize the refueling station shown in Figure 5.27. With its hypergolic

Figure 2.25. "Bud" Redding Space Cruiser launched from a trans-atmospheric vehicle to accomplish a satellite repair. The Space Cruiser is able also to serve as a three-person rescue vehicle.

propellant and small mass ratio, refueling was always a critical issue for the original Space Cruiser size. There were four basic tasks for the Space Cruiser as envisioned by Mr Redding, as a one- or two-seat resource mover between spacecraft or orbital stations in close proximity, a ''Lifecraft'' or emergency rescue vehicle, and a movable orbital workshop for repairing or maintaining nearby satellites. In the folded configuration there was a camera mounted in the folded nose to act as a vehicle/satellite scanning system or an ad hoc reconnaissance vehicle free of the space station or shuttle.

For orbital transfer from low Earth orbits (LEO) to geostationary orbits (GSO) and return; collecting for repair or disposal of non-functional satellites in LEO; and GSO refueling of sustained-use satellites, orbital busses and tugs there is a real need for a nuclear-powered tug. This nuclear-electric-powered tug can sustain in-orbit operations and maintain a functional orbital infrastructure, including space habitats, free-flying facilities, and power stations. In Chapter 5 several levels of development are depicted using prior work of Dr William Gaubatz, Tom Taylor and ''Bud'' Redding. The most important determination is the quantity of propellant required in LEO to implement the space infrastructure concepts in Figures 2.22 and 2.23 and the enormous quantity of launch propellant required to lift and accelerate the LEO propellant to low Earth orbit unless both airbreathing launchers and nuclear-electric space propulsion are operationally available.

2.6.2 Earth-Moon system advantages: the next step to establishing a Solar System presence

Unlike LEO orbital stations (MIR and International Space Station) the Moon is not devoid of indigenous resources, including gravity. Using Col. Tom Stafford's report to Congress on why we should return to the Moon as a data source, shows the advantages of the Moon compared to an Earth orbital station. This report shows also the advantages of testing and evaluating human operations on a foreign, inhospitable planet before venturing far from Earth, without the capability of easy and fast return. It also identifies the resources that can be obtained from the lunar surface and interior. A mass of liquid oxygen sent to LEO from the Moon may actually cost less than the same mass sent up from the Earth's surface. High-energy material recoverable from the lunar surface can power deep space explorers. Again, as in Earth orbit, the commercialization of sustained operations on it is needed. Chapter 6 discusses General Stafford's Congressional report and the need to return to the Moon.

2.6.3 The need for nuclear or high-energy space propulsion, to explore the Solar System

As discussed in Chapter 1, achieving much higher space speeds than are offered by practical rockets requires high-energy, high-specific-impulse propulsion systems. Chapter 7 presents some specific systems that are under development or in conceptual formulation. Researchers at the high-energy particle research facilities speak of space-available energy in a different way than chemical propulsion engineers. If developments continue in our understanding of energy, we may actually be able to traverse the Solar System nearly as quickly as the Earth-Moon system. If someone had told Donald Douglas Sr that just 30 years after the first DC-3 flew a prototype supersonic transport would cross the Atlantic at Mach 2.0, he would have laughed in disbelief. In fact he delayed the development of the DC-8 because he believed turboprops would hold the commercial market for over a decade before turbojets were commercially and economically practical. Nikolai Tesla, before 1930, stated that with his electromagnetic energy transmitter he could power a base on Mars from Earth (the Russians have done it on an orbiting satellite). Leik Myrabo has done experiments on a laser power vehicle ("LightCraft") at Holloman Air Force Base; see Chapter 6. All these avenues are explored in the attempt to fulfill the need for a high-specific-impulse propulsion system. In planetary exploration the holy grail is a propulsion system enabling a manned round trip to Mars in about 1 year: longer than that, solar flares and re-adaptation to both Mar's and Earth's gravity may be lethal to the human crew. Russia and a European nation are working on such a system. We need also to get to Pluto and the other gas planets in a reasonable time. All of these systems can operate within the acceleration tolerances of the human being and spacecraft structures. For humans to be in a sustained acceleration much greater than one "g" is probably untenable. Automatic, robotic spacecraft could accommodate instantaneous accelerations to eight to ten "g''s and sustained perhaps to three. This and other issues are explored and discussed in Chapter 7.

2.6.4 The need for very-high-energy space propulsion: expanding our knowledge to nearby Galactic space

Researchers at the high-energy particle research facilities may be the source of the propulsion system that enables us to reach the nearby stars. Distances are in the tens and hundreds of light-years. Even the closest stars are farther than a human lifetime away at current chemical rocket speeds, and even fractional light speeds. Concepts based on solid quantum physics and some experiments are pointing the way, if we had an operational base on the Moon to mine helium-3. This next step depends on the previous three, and will probably not be realizable until they are accomplished. Nevertheless it is possible to identify propulsion systems that can work and why and how they work. The difficulty in achieving even near light speed is the acceleration required. In this and the next subsection the understanding of mass and inertia are is essential. If these speeds are to be real, then a means to negate mass and inertia are essential. Otherwise the spaceship and its contents will be flattened to a disc by the acceleration. This is discussed in Chapter 8.

2.6.5 The need for light speed-plus propulsion: expanding our knowledge to our Galaxy

Researchers can now theorize quantum physics approaches to traveling at fractional light speed, and even at greater than light speed. Our Galaxy is about 100,000 light-years in diameter and about 20,000 light-years thick at the center. It might contain up to 100,000 million stars. The Earth is about 32,000 light-years from the center. Without the ability to travel in "hyperspace", as described in Chapter 1, the galaxy is isolated from our ability to explore it in any other way than by remote sensing. Except for our nearby galactic neighbors, our Galaxy is off-limits. The distances are almost not comprehensible. At 1000 times the speed of light, it would take 32 years for us to reach the galactic center. Yet to consider super light speed is not any more daunting than the prior century researchers considering supersonic travel. There are concepts that are based on solid physics. Many of these are presented at the Annual International Astronautics Federation Congresses. Some will be discussed in Chapter 9 in terms of what might be possible.

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