Re: lunar shuttles
21 Jul 1999 14:57:59 -0700

Yes. Although the only point I was making is that the shuttle would not have to be *entirely* re-designed for it make it to lunar orbit. An ideal lunar transport it is not!

Now a more reasonable cis-lunar transport infrastructure would consist of the following modular components:

  1. A cheap (meaning fast turn around) and reliable fleet of SSTO fully re-useable Earth-LEO vehicles. This means costs below $500/lb.
  2. A fleet of inter-orbital transfer vehicles. Ideally, we would have several vehicles of varying payload capacity. Small and fast vehicles for crew and emergency supplies. Large and slow tugs for more massive payloads. These would never land on a planetary surface, so their design constraints would be quite lax. These vehicles could be used to go from LEO, GEO, lunar orbit and L4/L5.
  3. A small fleet of re-useable lunar-landing vehicles. These would only go from lunar surface to lunar orbit. With no atmospheric drag and a small escape velocity - these vehicles would be substantially easier to design and build than those of #1.
  4. And finally some small space stations for parking, refueling and maintaining the above fleet.

One of the first priorities of this new infrastructure would be the development of space-based resources. If rocket fuel can be produced from raw lunar soil, then this would substantially reduce the cost of maintaining this transport infrastructure considerably.

Paul Hughes