Re: Re. (...) Economic Role of Manned Space Stations
21 Jul 1999 11:52:11 -0700

On Wed, 21 July 1999, wrote:

> wrote:
> >Completely unnecessary. With the right booster, the shuttle without *any*
> >modifications could easily reach lunar orbit.
> With the right booster, my car could easily reach lunar orbit. Would that
> make it "an ideal vehicle for shipping hardware to the Moon"? No.

No offense, but that's quite a bit of an exagerrated comparison.
> >If we cut the crew down
> >to 5, the shuttle could stay in orbit for over a month.
> No it couldn't, unless they've improved it significantly lately. The fuel
> cells are the main limitation, not crew size; most of the shuttle's power
> consumption is independent of crew size.

Adding some additonal fuel cells as a small payload package would be a relatively minor retro-fitting. Besides 19 days is already plenty of time for the shuttle to get to lunar orbit and back. So it already has the power capacity to sustain itself on a short (3-5 day) lunar orbit mission.

> And it would be absurdly inefficient and far more expensive than building
> a real lunar vehicle from scratch. Why bother?

I think that is open to more rigorous analysis. But I suspect you're right if we want to make lunar travel *routine*. I was simply arguing that it wouldn't be nearly as difficult as most beleive to turn the shuttle into a lunar transfer vehical.