Emily Lakdawalla, at the Planetary Society, published these stunning images of the asteroid Toutatis (captured by The Chinese spacecraft Chang’E 2) as it tumbled past the Earth on 12 and 13 December 2012.
Chang’E 2 was originally launched on 1 October 2010, and mapped the Moon during an eight month mission. China published these high resolution images of the Moon earlier this year. Now, Chang’E 2 has become the first spacecraft to reach the Sun-Earth Lagrange point (SEL-2) from lunar orbit. It departed lunar orbit in June of 2011.
The world was caught completely off-guard by this low profile fly-by of the asteroid Toutatis. At closest approach, Chang’E 2 was 3.2 kilometers above the surface of the asteroid. The images were taken from a distance of 93 and 240 kilometers. China becomes the fourth country to observe an asteroid, after US, the European Union and Japan.
In January, Chang’E 2 will reach a distance of 10 million kilometers from Earth.
In August, Bill Gray at the Planetary Society, published an update on the Chnag’E 2 mission.
Paolo, a member of the UnmannedSpaceflight.com forum, reported in October concerning a paper he had obtained from the IAF Congress entitled “Low energy trajectory optimization for CE-2’s extended mission after 2012“. He did share these items from the paper:
Sky and Telescope has also weighed in with unique information on the fly-by. The passage was so close that the deflection in the trajectory of the spacecraft could be used to determine the gravitational mass of Toutatis, which in turn would yield the overall density, a key to understanding its bulk composition and internal makeup.
edited: 5 PM 16 December 2012
NASA announced on Monday 26 November 2012, that American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko have been selected by NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and their international partners to conduct a 12 month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015.
The mission aboard the orbiting laboratory is designed to further our understanding of how the human body reacts and adapts to microgravity and other aspects of living in space. Work over the past several years have shown marked improvement in the ability for astronauts on a normal 5-6 month mission aboard the ISS to adapt to microgravity. The year long mission seeks to validate these findings.
Long duration missions to the Moon, Lagrange points, asteroids and Mars will require countermeasures to reduce risks associated with future exploration.
Kelly and Kornienko are veterans of space travel. Kelly served as a pilot on space shuttle mission STS-103 in 1999, commander on STS-118 in 2007, flight engineer on the International Space Station Expedition 25 in 2010 and commander of Expedition 26 in 2011. Kelly has logged more than 180 days in space.
Kornienko was selected as an Energia test cosmonaut candidate in 1998 and trained as an International Space Station Expedition 8 backup crew member. He served as a flight engineer on the station’s Expedition 23/24 crews in 2010 and has logged more than 176 days in space.
The two astronauts will launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in the Spring of 2015 and return to land in Kazakhstan in the Spring of 2016.
Scientists using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have discovered the first Trojan Asteroid in Earth orbit. Trojans orbit at a location in front of or behind a planet known as a Lagrange Point.
A video of the asteroid and its orbit at the Lagrange point can be found here.
Martin Connors of Athabasca University in Canada is the lead author of a new paper on the discovery in the July 28 issue of the journal Nature.
Connors notes that:
TK7 is roughly 300 meters in diameter and traces a complex motion around SEL-4 (Sun Earth Lagrange point 4). The asteroid’s orbit is stable for at least the next 100 years and is currently about 80 million kilometers from the Earth. In that time, it is expected to come no closer that 24 million kilometers.
The obvious question is whether this is the logical destination for NASA’s Flexible Path manned asteroid mission? The Lagrange 4 point (SEL-4) is a logical way station on the Solar System exploration highway. Other NEO asteroids that have been identified as possible targets are few and much more difficult to reach and return than an asteroid at SEL-4. This may well be the target of opportunity that opens manned exploration of the Solar System in an “easy” mode. Unfortunately, Asteroid 2010 TK7 travels too far above and below the plane of Earth’s orbit, which would require large amounts of fuel to reach it.
NEOWISE is the program for searching the WISE database for Near Earth Objects (NEO), as well as other asteroids in the Solar System.The NEOWISE project observed more than 155,000 asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, and more than 500 NEOs, discovering 132 that were previously unknown.
The Artemis (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) mission is designed to study the Sun’s magnetosphere on opposite sides of the moon. The mission utilizes two of the five THEMIS spacecraft, which have completed their original mission. The five spacecraft were launched in 2007, and completed their research earlier in 2010. Their mission was to investigate the auroras in the Earth’s atmosphere and why they dramatically change from slowly shimmering waves of light to wildly shifting streaks of color. The data from the spacecraft will provide scientists with important details on how the planet’s magnetosphere works and the important Sun-Earth connection.
Now, two of these craft are headed toward the Moon and the two Lagrange points, EML-1 and EML-2.
As shown in the two diagrams below, EML-1 (L-1) lies between the Earth and the Moon (about 61,000 km above the Moon’s surface) and EML-2 (L-2) lies beyond the Moon at the same distance.
The first spacecraft (P-1) has migrated from Earth orbit to L-2 and entered a Lissajous orbit about L-2. These orbits (as seen in the diagrams above) are dynamically unstable, and require adjustments from on-board thrusters. The spacecraft will take from 14 to 15 days to complete a single loop. The plan is for the two spacecraft to spend about three months monitoring the influence of the magnetospheres of the Earth and the Moon on the solar wind. This will provide the first three-dimensional perspective of how energetic particle acceleration occurs near the Moon’s orbit as well as the space environment behind the Moon.
After this period, the spacecraft at L-2 will migrate to L-1 and join its sister. In late March of 2011, both spacecraft will maneuver into elliptical orbits around the Moon and continue to observe magnetospheric dynamics, solar wind and the space environment over the course of several years.
The research to be conducted by the Artemis program is important for several reasons. One is the pure research itself.
Second is the fact that both L-1 and L-2 are proposed as propellant and supply depots for the robotic and manned exploration of the Moon and the Solar System. Understanding the solar radiation environment at these locations will be important for manned operations and the health of the astronauts (see the related problems associated with Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) – The 800 Pound Gorilla).
For the importance of propellant depots, see the discussion in this post Post Augustine Commission – ULA Says “Fly Me to The Moon”, and the uses of propellant depots here The Augustine Commission – Final Report – Hits and Misses – Wrapped Up
It seems pretty clear that sometime in February (watch for the release of the 2011 Budget), the Obama Administration will task NASA with the Flexible Path architecture (see Flexible Path 5D from The Augustine Commission Wrapped Up post). This is likely to involve taking aim at Phobos in a series of increasingly difficult tasks.
In the past several days, it has become increasing clear that a political compromise is being crafted concerning NASA’s rocket program. It has become obvious that NASA’s budget is not likely to increase very much, and therefore, the development of two brand new rockets is impossible (The Ares I, underpowered and over budget, and Ares V, a paper rocket that is so large we would need to rebuild half the Kennedy Space Center infrastructure). On the other hand, a true Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle (SDLV) using the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME), The External Tank (ET), and the ATK Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) would be affordable (40% of a rocket development is engine design, and we skip that step), and ready to launch large payloads to re-supply the aging International; Space Station (ISS) by 2014.
If one looks at throw weight from the Summary Report of the Augustine Commission: the Ares I + Ares V can put 185 mt into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) while two (2) SDLV vehicles can put 200 – 220mt into LEO. Its no contest.
All this is from the technical point of view. To craft a solution, one must factor in the politics of the pork. A lot of jobs are at stake. And apparently Senator Shelby has joined the compromise (see Ross Tierney’s comments). Further, Alliance Technology (ATK), which has a contract to develop a five (5) segment version of the Shuttle SRB for the Ares I rocket, is willing to settle for the 5 segment over the 4 segment SRB, and has joined the compromise.
So what does the most likely SDLV look like? As discussed here, and reviewed at NSS Phoenix, the rocket will use four (4) SSMEs, a stretched External Tank to increase the fuel load to accommodate the four engines, and two (2) five segment SRBs.
And where can we go from here? A video of Manned NEO Mission concept from the Constellation program gives some idea of what to expect (ignore the launch vehicles).
- First launch of SDLV (2014):
- the biggest launch vehicle in the world (by far)
- the vehicle that will take mankind to the moon, Mars and beyond
- the dawn of the next space age
- the rebirth of American human spaceflight
- the first flight of the spacecraft that will take us out into deep space
- the beginning of a new era of exploration for all of mankind
- returning to the moon for the first time in half a century
- shake-down flight of the spacecraft that will take us into the solar system
- the farthest out into space that any human being has ever gone
- going beyond the moon for the first time
- visiting the staging ground for all future deep-space missions
- building humanity’s first deep-space outpost
- the first step in man’s expansion into the solar system
- the gateway to the moon, the asteroids and the planets
- first human visit to an asteroid
- first trip out into the solar system
- farthest into space that any human being has ever gone (by far)
- longest deep-space mission ever
- preparation for future trips to the moons of Mars
- learning more about possible future threats to human civilization
- developing techniques to prevent future disasters
- mankind’s triumphant return to the moon
- studying how to live on the moon so we can move on to Mars
- finding ways of using the moon’s resources for future missions
- first mission to Mars
- first landing on the moon of another world
- preparation for an eventual human landing on Mars
You can disagree over the timetable, you can quibble about the missions, you can wince at Bernie Roehl’s hyperbole, but it is an exciting list of missions that increasingly build infrastructure for the exploration of the Solar System.
“The Augustine Commission for Dummies”
Given the intent of the politicians to fight for the funding their districts currently receive from the Constellation Program (CxP – the current program developing the Ares I and Ares V rockets) as well as go begging for more, and given the budget constraints the NASA faces, it is instructive to see where this course will end up. In the Senate, Richard Shelby has announced his intention to fight for Constellation and will try to increase funding to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida is fighting for Kennedy Space Center and all the jobs and funding there. In the House, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Pete Olson of Texas have dug in their heels and reiterated their backing of the Constellation program (See Space News, 21 November 2009).
All this is taking place against the backdrop of the Augustine Commission’s Final Report, which has made it clear that Ares I is over budget and underpowered. As Jeff Greason said at the Committee deliberations, if Santa Clause gave us Ares I and Ares V tomorrow, we would have to scrap them immediately because they would be too expensive to operate.
The Forum at NasaSpaceFlight has been for many years the authoritative site for information on all things NASA. It has been home to the rebel alliance of NASA and industry engineers that have advocated the in-line shuttle derived launch vehicle for the past four years.
The source of this concern was former Administrator Michael Griffin’s decision in 2005 to replace the dual-launch, in-line shuttle derived architecture recommended by NASA engineers, with his personal choice of a small Ares I and a very large Ares V. Instead of building one rocket using existing shuttle components as Congress had directed, he would build two brand new rockets. This decision came just two weeks before the scheduled release of the NASA document on the Constellation program.
Now, four years later in 2009, when the in-line shuttle derived launch vehicle should have been making its first flight, we are five or six years away from Ares I making its first flight. The Shuttle is scheduled for retirement next year and America will have to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz to get to the International Space Station. And the International Space Station is scheduled for de-commissioning in 2015 and would be de-orbited into the Pacific Ocean.
This reality gave birth to the Augustine Commission and its Final Report. We have covered in detail the findings of the Committee. Now we look to consider the possible outcomes.
Philip Metschan (writing as ‘Phoegh’), a long time contributor to the Forum at NasaSpaceFlight, has produced a marvelous interactive series of graphics available at directlauncher.com that illustrate the options identified by the Augustine Commission.
The Budget and Time Line for these options are given in the following table. Included are destinations beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) and the impact of each option on the existing workforce.
|Option||Extra $ / Yr||Through 2020||Through 2030||Moon||NEO||Depot||Workforce|
|Option 1||$0||$99 B||$205 B||?||?||?||50% Loss|
|Option 2||$0||$105 B||$200 B||?||?||?||60% Loss|
|Option 3||$3 B||$127 B||$275 B||2025||?||?||53% Loss|
|Option 4||$3 B||$121 B||$264 B||2030||?||?||70% Loss|
|Option 4B||$3 B||$118 B||$255 B||2029||?||2026||25% Loss|
|Option 5A||$3 B||$128 B||$272 B||?||?||?||75% Loss|
|Option 5B||$3 B||$123 B||$268 B||2029||2026||2024||90% Loss|
|Option 5C||$3 B||$120 B||$256 B||2030||2027||2025||30% Loss|
|Option 5D||$1 B||$116 B||$239 B||2019||2022||2028||15% Loss|
We can draw the following conclusions, which are illustrated in the Graphics mentioned earlier and shown below. We start with Option 1, the Program of Record (POR – Constellation) and the funding level provided in FY 2010:
- Option 1 – Ares I crew vehicle is ready a year after the ISS is de-orbited (2015) and Ares V is completed in 2028 with no funds to conduct exploration. There is no Moon in the picture.
- Option 2 – Scrap Ares I and substitute Commercial Crew Access to LEO. The money saved is used to keep the ISS operating until 2020. Ares V is completed in 2028 with no funds to conduct exploration. There is no Moon in the picture.
- Option 3 – Add $3 Billion per year to the existing program. Ares I crew vehicle is ready a year after the ISS is de-orbited (2015) and Ares V is completed in 2019. The Moon is reached in 2025, but no other destinations beyond LEO can be funded.
- Option 4 – Add $3 Billion per year to the existing program. Scrap Ares I and substitute Commercial Crew Access to LEO. The money saved is used to keep the ISS operating until 2020. Ares V is completed in 2023. The Moon is reached in 2030, but no other destinations beyond LEO can be funded.
- Option 4B – Add $3 Billion per year to the existing program. Extend the Shuttle to 2015. Scrap Ares I and substitute Commercial Crew Access to LEO. The money saved is used to keep the ISS operating until 2020. Ares V is completed in 2023. Develop the Propellant Depot by 2026. The Moon is reached in 2030.
- Option 5A – Add $3 Billion per year to the existing program. Scrap Ares I and substitute Commercial Crew Access to LEO. The money saved is used to keep the ISS operating until 2020. Scrap Ares V in favor of a smaller Ares V Lite, which is completed in 2023. Visit EML-1 or EML-2 in 2026. Visit a Near Earth Object (NEO) Sometime in the Future.
- Option 5B – Add $3 Billion per year to the existing program. Scrap Ares I and substitute Commercial Crew Access to LEO. The money saved is used to keep the ISS operating until 2020. Scrap Ares V in favor of a commercial heavy launch capability, which is completed in 2021. Develop the Propellant Depot by 2024. Visit a Near Earth Object (NEO) in 2026 and Phobos in 2028. Return to the Moon in 2029.
- Option 5C – Add $3 Billion per year to the existing program. Scrap Ares I and substitute Commercial Crew Access to LEO. The money saved is used to keep the ISS operating until 2020. Scrap Ares V in favor of a the Direct Team’s Jupiter 241, which is completed in 2022. Visit EML-1 or EML-2 in 2023. Develop the Propellant Depot by 2024. Visit a Near Earth Object (NEO) in 2027 and Phobos in 2029. Return to the Moon in 2030.
Those are the options explored by the Augustine Commission in their Final Report.
Notice, however, that there is one more slide, Option 5D. This is the architecture that was presented to the Augustine Commission during their first public session on 17 June 2009 by the Direct Team. It provides for:
- Add $1 Billion per year to the existing program.
- Extend Shuttle until 2012.
- Scrap Ares I and develop the Jupiter Core (Jupiter 130) for carrying crew on Orion to LEO and ISS by 2014.
- Develop Commercial Crew Access to LEO to replace the Jupiter 130 by 2015. Use Jupiter 130 for ferrying the few large payloads needed by ISS.
- Continue ISS operations until 2020.
- Scrap Ares V in favor of the Upper Stage for the Jupiter Core (Jupiter 241 or Jupiter 246), which is completed in 2017.
- Visit EML-1 or EML-2 in 2018.
- Orbit the Moon in 2019.
- Visit a Near Earth Object (NEO) in 2022.
- Visit Phobos in 2025.
- Develop the Propellant Depot by 2028.
The key here is that the goal of expansion of human civilization into the Solar System is better served, is accomplished sooner, and costs less. Indeed, even without the additional $1 Billion per year, only the extension of the Shuttle operation need be eliminated.
- Options 1, 2 and 3, which are favored by the politicians with space flight facilities, get us nowhere and cost far too much.
- Options 4 and 4B get us to the Moon, but neither builds infrastructure for support of future exploration.
- Options 5A, 5B and 5C builds the skills and infrastructure for space exploration, but leave us a crew to LEO gap of five to six years.
- Option 5D builds the skills and infrastructure for space exploration, reduces the crew to LEO gap to one or two years, and gives the international community the ability to descend to the surface of the Moon and Mars.
Time is of the Essence
Finally, this note about the political realities. First, if a decision is delayed for four to six months while the politicians fight for every last bit of funding they want, the infrastructure on which the Jupiter program builds will be dismantled and Options 4B, 5C and 5D will be eliminated.
Second, Congress will likely decide that the Constellation program as currently envisioned is too costly for what will be developed and not worth throwing more money down the drain. Options 1, 2, 3, 4B and 5A will be eliminated.
Thus, only commercial crew and cargo capabilities will be funded. NASA will be reduced to research and contracting for services. The Marshall Space Flight Facility will have little purpose. And the politicians will lose most of the jobs and funding that their districts currently enjoy.
|Special thanks are in order to Philip Metschan for permission to use screen shots of his presentation.|
In Part 1, we looked at the pieces strewn about our living room floor. In Part 2, we examined the Goals and Destinations in Chapter 3.0. And in Part 3, the three current Human Space Flight programs were reviewed (International Space Station, the Space Shuttle and the Constellation Program). In Part 4, we looked at the launch vehicles examined by The Augustine Commission.
Chapter 6 of the Augustine Commission Final Report deals with Program Options and Evaluation. This is one of the many contentious issues commentators have with the Commission. While they did select five possible exploration programs (Chapter 6), and while they did evaluate various launch vehicles (Chapter 5), the Committee seems to have ignored the possibility that different launch vehicles have greater or lesser ability to cover the five exploration programs. This failure may in the end, prove to be disastrous for human space exploration. As we write, the Space Shuttle infrastructure is being actively dismantled. The end result of failing to evaluate the physical infrastructure and the human infrastructure capable of supporting a Shuttle derived architecture may be that the United States is left with no heavy lift human space flight capability for at least the next several decades. We may have surrendered our space faring capability to Europe, China, Russia, India and Japan.
6.1 Evaluation Criteria
As noted by the Commission:
The Committee did not intend that the evaluation would generate a single numerical score; rather, it would provide a basis for comparison across options, highlighting the opportunities and challenges associated with each. Assigning weights to individual figures of merit is within the purview of the ultimate decision-makers.
Three primary evaluation dimensions were identified:
- Benefits to Stakeholders
- Budget Realities
These three dimensions were expanded into 12 criteria for comparing the options.
- Exploration Preparation
- Technology Innovation
- Science Knowledge
- Expanding and Protecting Human Civilization
- Economic Expansion
- Global Partnerships
- Public Engagement
- Schedule and Programmatic Risk
- Mission Safety Challenges
- Workforce Impact
- Programmatic Sustainability
- Life-Cycle Cost
6.2 Key Decisions and Integrated Options
6.2.1 Key Decisions
1. What should be the future of the Space Shuttle?
2. What should be the future of the International Space Station (ISS)?
3. On what should the next heavy-lift launch vehicle be based?
4. How should crews be carried to low-Earth orbit?
5. What is the most practicable strategy for exploration beyond low-Earth orbit?
6.2.2 Integrated Options
The Committee identified five basic options: One based on the Program of Record (POR – Constellation – Ares I and V, Orion and Altair), and four alternatives. Options 2 and 3 were budget compatable alternatives to the POR. Option 4 was a Moon First program (with two variations), and Option 5 was the Flexible Path (avoiding the gravity well of the Moon).
6.2.3 Methodology for Analyzing the Integrated Options
Two budgets were used. The “Constrained Budget” used the FY 2010 budget, while the “Less Constrained Budget” allowed for an increase by 2014 of $3 Billion per year higher than FY 2010.
6.2.4 Reference Cases of the Entirely Unconstrained Program of Record
The Program of Record was evaluated and found to be a total of $45 Billion over the FY 2010 budget by 2020, wherein it is $5 Billion a year over FY 2010 in 2016 and $7 Billion per year over FY 2010 in 2019.
6.3 Integrated Options Constrained to the FY 2010 Budget
6.3.1 Evaluation of Integrated Options 1 and 2
Option 1 was found to allow for rocket development, but lacked funds for exploration. Option 2 extends the lifetime of the ISS, delays rocket development, and has no funds for exploration.
6.3.2 Examination of alternate budget guidance
The Committee found no alternatives to Options 1 or 2 that were viable under the FY 2010 budget. This conclusion has been disputed.
6.4 Moon First Integrated Options Fit to the Less-Constrained Budget
6.4.1 Evaluation of Integrated Options 3 and 4
Option 3 was to execute the POR under a less constrained budget. The ISS is de-orbited in 2010, and the Shuttle flies the remaining missions into 2011. Human lunar return occurs in the mid 2020s and the lunar base becomes operation late in the decade. An alternate extending ISS to 2020 was found to push these dates out by three to four more years.
Option 4 uses the less constrained budget, scraps Ares I and substitutes commercial crew services by 2016 It extends the ISS to 2020. Ares V is scrapped in favor of a dual-launch Ares V Lite vehicle for lunar missions.
Option 4A retires the Shuttle in 2011, while Option 4B extends the Shuttle to 2015 and develops a Shuttle Derived Heavy Lift vehicle in place of Ares V Lite.
6.4.2 Examination of the key decision on the ISS extension
Given the International Partnerships that have been developed, and the fact that the extension to 2020 would only delay the lunar return by a few years, the Committee found that the extension provides greater value than ending the ISS mission.
6.4.3 Examination of the key decision on Ares V vs. Ares V Lite dual launch
Baseline Ares V has more launch capability than the Saturn V, but current NASA studies show that when used in combination with Ares I, it does not have enough launch capability to robustly deliver the currently planned landing and surface systems to the Moon.
The Committee concluded that Ares V Lite represents less development risk, likely will reduce costs and provides more substantial margin for the lunar mission.
6.4.4 Examination of the key decision on the provision of crew transport to low-Earth orbit
Commercial crew services, based on a high-reliability rocket with a capsule and launch escape system could significantly reduce development costs, as well as lower operating costs.
6.4.5 Examination of the key question on Shuttle extension
The Committee favored early retirement of the Shuttle (2010 or 2011), although they noted several advantages to Shuttle extension to 2015, including up-mass and down-mass capability and workforce retention.
6.5 Flexible Path Integrated Options Fit to the Less-Constrained Budget
6.5.1 Evaluation of Integrated Option 5
Option 5 operates the Shuttle into 2011 and extends the International Space Station mission until 2020. A variety of destinations beyond low earth orbit are possible. The Committee developed three variants of this option.
- Option 5A develops the Ares V Lite, visits the Lagrange points, near Earth objects, on-orbit refueling and achieves a lunar return by the end of the 2020s.
- Option 5B develops commercial heavy lift capability, restructures NASA, and follows a similar mission profile as 5A, but on a slower time line.
- Option 5C scraps Ares V Lite and develops a Shuttle Derived Heavy Lift vehicle. 5C follows a similar mission profile as 5A, but on a slower time line.
6.5.2 Examination of the key question on Ares V family vs. Shuttle-derived heavy launcher
While the Shuttle derived in-line launch vehicle (SDLV) with two four-segment solid rocket motors (SRM) and the 8.4 meter external tank (ET) was the 2005 ESAS candidate for the cargo vehicle, it was forced to evolve into the Ares V due to the problems encountered with the underpowered Ares I. For some reason, the Committee decided that in order to match the capabilities of the Ares V, or the Ares V Lite dual-launch mission, that there had to be three SDLV launches. Therefore, operations would be more costly.
This is a clear Committee miss, as the current planned lunar return missions can be accomplished with good margin by a dual-launch SDLV program, thus costing less than the Ares V Lite. There is no need for the enhanced capabilities of the dual-launch Ares V Lite.
6.5.3 Examination of the key question on NASA heritage vs. EELV-heritage super-heavy vehicles
The Committee considers the EELV-heritage super-heavy vehicle to be a way to significantly reduce the operating cost of the heavy lifter to NASA in the long run. It would be a less-capable vehicle, but probably sufficiently capable for the mission. Reaping the long-term cost benefits would require substantial disruption in NASA, and force the agency to adopt a new way of doing business.
6.6 Comparisons Across Integrated Options
6.6.1 Cross-option comparisons
The Flexible Path program (Option 5A) scores more highly than the Baseline (Option 3) on 9 of the 12 criteria outlined in section 6.1 ( See figure 6.6.1-1). The higher rankings include:
- Exploration Preparation (due to much more capable launch system)
- Technology (due to investment in technology)
- Science (because of more places visited)
- Human Civilization (due to the ISS extension)
- Economic Expansion (because of commercial involvement in space elements and crew transport)
- Global Partnerships (gained by extending the ISS)
- Public Engagement (by visiting more new locations, and doing so each year)
- Schedule (exploring beyond low-Earth orbit sooner)
- Life-Cycle Costs (due to commercial crew services)
6.6.2 Examination of the key question on exploration strategy
Three exploration strategies were examined in Chapter 3. The choice of Mars First was found not to be viable due to technological problems. Two strategies remained:
- Moon First on the Way to Mars, with surface exploration focused on developing capability for Mars.
- Flexible Path to Mars via the inner solar system objects and locations, with no immediate plan for surface exploration, then followed by exploration of the lunar and/or Martian surface.
The Moon first is favorable to lunar science and exploration (although much can be done robotically). The Flexible Path missions explore more of the Solar System, while initially doing less on the Moon. Flexible Path has the advantage of developing infrastructure for deep space exploration, including the moons of Mars and Mars itself. The Committe notes that:
Considering that we have visited and obtained samples from the Moon, but not near-Earth objects or Mars, and also that the Flexible Path develops the ability to service space observatories, the Science Knowledge criterion slightly favors the Flexible Path. Broadly, the more complex the environment, the more astronaut explorers are favored over robotic exploration. In practice, this means that astronauts will offer their greatest value-added in the exploration of the surface of Mars.
Although the Augustine Commission did not publish a final tally of the scores (for reasons they made clear), the following table does compare and tabulate the scores.
|Option||Description||Science||Safety||Cost||Schedule||NASA / Industry Jobs||US Skills Retention||Exploration Capability||Technology||Space Colony Potential||Commercial Benefit||Public Engagement||international Cooperation||Sustainability||Total|
|1||The Status Quo||0||0||0||-2||-1||-1||-2||-2||-2||-1||-1||-2||-1||-15|
|2||ISS Extension plus Moon||0||0||1||-2||-1||-1||-2||1||-1||1||-1||0||0||-5|
|3||Status quo + $3 B||1||-1||0||0||0||-1||0||0||0||0||0||-2||0||-3|
|4||Shuttle + Moon||1||-1||1||0||0||-1||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||4|
|4B||Shuttle 2015 + Moon||1||-1||0||0||0||0||1||1||1||1||0||0||1||5|
|5A||Flexible Path + Ares Lite||2||-1||1||1||0||-1||2||1||1||2||1||0||0||9|
|5B||Flexible Path + Commercial||2||-2||2||1||0||-1||1||2||1||2||1||0||-1||8|
|5C||Flexible Path + Jupiter 241||2||-2||0||1||0||-1||1||1||1||2||1||0||1||7|
|Option||Description||Science||Safety||Cost||Schedule||NASA / Industry Jobs||US Skills Retention||Exploration Capability||Technology||Space Colony Potential||Commercial Benefit||Public Engagement||international Cooperation||Sustainability||Total|
|5D||Flexible Path + Direct||2||-2||1||1||1||1||2||1||1||2||1||1||1||13|