Re: SPACE: Cycler orbits

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Wed Feb 20 2002 - 09:33:28 MST> <00bb01c1b9ac$44b1c8e0$8885ecd1@neptune>
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Technotranscendence wrote:
> On Tuesday, February 19, 2002 1:14 PM Mike Lorrey
> wrote:
> > The only real big savings
> > were if you used electromagnetic propulsion to accelerate and
> > decellerate individuals getting onto and getting off the station.
> > Without an EM system to scavenge the energy of decelleration, the
> energy
> > costs are far more than just 'minor corrections'.
> But are they higher than the current alternative -- i.e., sending out a
> separate mission each time? I'm thinking here of cyclers to Mars
> mostly.

Well, it's all a matter of whether you can afford the investment
required to produce and put into the cycler orbit the infrastructure to
truly make it an energy and mass saving venture. You gotta spend money
to make it.

At this point, you run into the welfare pols who think that 'the money
is better spent here on earth' (as if the money is actually spent in
space based malls or something) on 'human needs'.

> Recently, there's been talk about using Alpha (AKA the ISS) as a place
> to assemble prepackaged space probes and the like. The idea is to not
> have to cram everything into the cone of a Delta/Ariane/Proton and hope
> it can survive launch vibrations and unfurl itself before going on its
> merry way. On Alpha, instead, different parts can be ferried up in
> cushioned packages, then assembled and tested in orbit. If something
> should fail, repairs or substitutes might be arranged. In other words,
> you don't have to lose the whole probe because a solar panel didn't
> unfurl. I imagine a cycler can be used for that too -- as opposed to
> unattended spacecraft going between destinations. Of course, this adds
> the costs of having and maintaining a living crew en route.

I was thinking of packaging pieces in a cushioning/bracing material
which could be easily converted into fuel for spacecraft once in orbit.
I hear that there is a form of a plasma engine that uses teflon or
styrofoam for fuel, so maybe this isn't such a kooky idea.

Having Alpha station up there and fully functional certainly is a very
valuable asset for use as a staging base for assembly of bigger and more
complex interplanetary missions.

Having the ability to disassemble packed pods in orbit opens up the
possibility of using the packaging concept to allow launch of equipment
from less expensive, higher G launch mechanisms, like guns and rail

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