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ThePointblank
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NASA Artemis Selection Announced

Sat May 02, 2020 11:28 am

NASA has announced the selection of 3 vendors from the 5 bidders for the Artemis human landing systems:

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa ... n-missions
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-selec ... an-landers
https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/04/30/c ... -concepts/

As picked, the vendors are as follows:

Blue Origin - awarded $579 million to develop a Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) – a three-stage lander. They are partnered with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper in their "National Team".

Per what was announced, the breakdown of the workshare in the Blue Origin proposal is follows:
Blue Origin, the prime contractor, will oversee the development of a descent stage;
Draper will lead development of the lander’s avionics and guidance systems;
Northrop Grumman will supply a space tug or transfer vehicle that is based on the Cygnus space station supply ship, which would deliver the lander to Low Lunar Orbit;
and Lockheed Martin will build an ascent stage derived from work on the Orion crew capsule, and will also lead crewed flight operations and training

The ILV's descent stage apparently uses two Blue Origin BE-7 engines and is an adaptation of their Blue Moon lander design. Once the surface mission is complete, a ascent stage launches back into space for return to either the Lunar Gateway or Orion for the crew’s return to Earth. It can then be refueled, mated to a new transfer vehicle and descent stage for the next mission.

The ILV will launch on both Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket, and ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket.

In their decision to pick Blue Origin, NASA stated that the Blue Origin proposal had a “highly effective, human-centric approach for its rendezvous, proximity operations, docking and undocking system,” resulting in reduced crew workload and improved safety. The extensive experience of both Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin also played a significant portion of the decision to pick the Blue Origin proposal. NASA also noted Blue Origin had “comprehensive, detailed plan for training and certification of launch and mission operations personnel” and they plan to demonstrate the Descent Element in 2023. The uncrewed demonstration mission would land at the same landing site as selected for the 2024 crewed landing.

The only major drawback NASA found with the Blue Origin proposal was the power and propulsion system, which “has numerous attributes that introduce appreciable risk into its proposal.” However, the concern with the system was not attributed to a flawed design, but rather the reliance on an aggressive development timeline.

SpaceX - awarded $135 million for a variant of the Starship design. This variant of Starship will have no steering fins and heat shield, and will primarily be used for flying between the Moon surface and lunar orbit.

Their proposal had in-space refueling after launch from Earth, and can bypass the Lunar Gateway station, with the option of docking directly with NASA's Orion crew capsule to transfer personnel and equipment.

What is known about their proposal is that the intention is that a tanker variant of Starship will launch first to Low Earth Orbit, utilizing the Super Heavy booster. The crew-rated Starship would launch second, rendezvous with the tanker in order to refuel, and then perform a trans-lunar injection to lunar orbit. Their proposal is the only proposal where there is no need to launch the individual components of the lunar lander into space to be assembled in lunar orbit; all other proposals had elements of in-space assembly work.

In NASA's analysis of SpaceX's proposal, they noted that Starship meets or exceeds all performance requirements, and features a significant strength in extravehicular activity; apparently the Starship has extensive dust control measures, and has 2 independent airlocks. The payload capacity of 100 tons was a big plus, and the large internal volume available in Starship was also notable as well. NASA did highlight 2 issues with SpaceX's proposal, namely the propulsion systems were described as “notably complex,” and the report referred to prior delays under the Commercial Crew program and Falcon Heavy launch vehicle development as evidence for potential threats to their development schedule. However, NASA did highlight that SpaceX has a rigorous testing and demonstration plan as a potential mitigation to these concerns.

Dynetics - awarded $253 million to develop their Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS). Their partners includes more than 25 companies, including ULA, Sierra Nevada Corp., Maxar Technologies, Draper and Thales Alenia Space.

The DHLS will launch as a single structure providing ascent and descent capabilities, with a low slung crew module, which would ease access to the Moon's surface. Their lander will accommodate 2 crew members for “nominal missions” from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back, including a week-long stay on the moon.

The lander's elements could be launched in one go on NASA's SLS Block 1B rocket, which will have an upgraded four-engine upper stage, or could be launched in parts on ULA's Vulcan Centaur rocket.

NASA noted that Dynetics' proposal ranked very high in terms of meeting requirements and goal values, and also shared a similar weakness in the same areas; the power and propulsion system, demanding an “unprecedented” pace of development.

Of the 2 bidders that were not chosen, one of them is known to been Boeing, which had partnered with Intuitive Machines. No details on what they proposed.

NASA has not actually selected a final architecture for its first human landing mission of the Artemis Program; they intend on conducting a evaluation during the initial 10-month lunar lander contract phase. During this time, NASA will evaluate the progress of all of the vendors involved, and by February 2021, NASA will likely downselect down to 2 vendors, and by the Artemis III mission, they would have picked vendor to land crew on the moon.
 
GDB
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Joined: Wed May 23, 2001 6:25 pm

Re: NASA Artemis Selection Announced

Sat May 02, 2020 12:49 pm

I've been following this extensively, since the program started, via the NASA Administrators pressers, as well the the amateur though very informed reporters such as Scott Manley and Tim Dodd.

Boeing, well they haven't made a great impression recently have they, besides they need to concentrate on SLS, since without it carrying Orion, NASA will be still stuck in LEO.

I do think this is a more logical way to proceed than traditional big programs over many years, yes the target date is political, from politicians I dislike greatly.
So what? Apollo was too and there must have been plenty of non JFK and LBJ voters who rooted for it.
In fact all major human explorations have been, in part or totally, political/economic.
From Columbus to Scott racing his Norwegian rival to the South Pole.
 
texl1649
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Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:38 am

Re: NASA Artemis Selection Announced

Sat May 02, 2020 1:26 pm

Thx! I haven't followed this too closely, but noted the following post on the topic as well this morning. I think his comments sound about right overall. Boeing scoring zero is...well not surprising this year.

https://thesilicongraybeard.blogspot.co ... es-to.html

Most notable to me is that two out of three of the prime contractors are the “next generation” space contractors. While several of the subcontractors are familiar names, it's interesting that they're in the sub-tier to these prime contractors. Boeing was a known bidder on the contract, and as NASA's Chief of Human Spaceflight Ken Bowersox said last month, was not awarded any contract.

From this cheap seat, I see Blue Origin and SpaceX as kind of opposite companies in an important way. Blue Origin has yet to launch anything into orbit, instead working on developing engines, this moon lander, and plans for migrating people to colonies in Space. They've developed and tested the New Glenn booster but have only done suborbital hops. SpaceX, by contrast, planned to be in the launch business since the first days of the Falcon 1 just under 12 years ago. Today, the Falcon 9 is the most experienced booster in the US. Dynetics is a new one on me, and while they appear to be a Defense sector contractor, they have a Space Solutions webpage featuring several projects, not one of which has flown.

Getting back to the main story, NASA hasn't selected a final architecture for the first human landing mission of the Artemis Program and won't choose one until this 10 month study contract period is over. For the rest of this year, NASA will assess the technical readiness of the various approaches to deliver both a lander to lunar orbit and the lander technology itself.
NASA is taking a two-pronged approach toward the Artemis program. The agency has a clear mandate from the White House to land humans on the Moon by 2024. This has been criticized by some as a "political" date, but supporters of the fast timeline say it has injected needed urgency into the program. At the same time, NASA also wants to avoid the pitfalls of the Apollo Program—which flew six missions to the Moon and then ended due to high costs—by designing Artemis to be sustainable for the long term.
In this scenario, SpaceX appears to be the wildcard - note they were awarded the least of the three, by a huge margin. They didn't bid flights on the well-established Falcon Heavy, they bid Starship, which hasn't actually flown at all (nor has the New Glenn or ULA's Vulcan). Administrator Bridenstine said they couldn't afford to overlook the possibility that Starship will be ready in time.


Image

All three lunar landers: from left to right, Blue Origin's Integrated Lander, Dynetics ALPACA Lunar Lander, SpaceX's Starship lander. All three listed as NASA images.
 
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Erebus
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Re: NASA Artemis Selection Announced

Sat May 02, 2020 3:36 pm

ThePointblank wrote:
Of the 2 bidders that were not chosen, one of them is known to been Boeing, which had partnered with Intuitive Machines. No details on what they proposed.


Some details of their proposal here, which was submitted in November 2019.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Lunar_Lander

Is Orion the only spacecraft being designed to return crew back to earth?
 
GDB
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Re: NASA Artemis Selection Announced

Sat May 02, 2020 4:33 pm

Erebus wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
Of the 2 bidders that were not chosen, one of them is known to been Boeing, which had partnered with Intuitive Machines. No details on what they proposed.


Some details of their proposal here, which was submitted in November 2019.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Lunar_Lander

Is Orion the only spacecraft being designed to return crew back to earth?


Yes, Dragon will lack the heatshield for the return from the Moon, around 25000 m.p.h. Which only the Apollos have done, of the 9 crewed returns from the Moon, Apollos 8, 10 through 17, Apollo 10, the CM of which is in London's Science Museum, was by a small margin the fastest, making Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan and John Young the fastest men who have ever lived.
Only Tom is still with us, way past time they and the other 21 were added to.

Orion is designed for deep space, including some radiation protection, basic storm shelter if a solar flare occurs during a mission (Apollo lacked the latter).
Whereas Dragon is designed to do well what it is intended for, as a short duration ferry flight to/from LEO.
It's heatshield is designed to protect against the re-entry from LEO, rather slower and less dynamic than from trans Lunar coast.
Doubtless Space X could modify it, would not be optimal though.
 
FGITD
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Re: NASA Artemis Selection Announced

Sat May 02, 2020 4:50 pm

GDB wrote:

I do think this is a more logical way to proceed than traditional big programs over many years, yes the target date is political, from politicians I dislike greatly.
So what? Apollo was too and there must have been plenty of non JFK and LBJ voters who rooted for it.
In fact all major human explorations have been, in part or totally, political/economic.


Ain't that the truth. Apollo is one of the greatest endeavours in human history, but you'd be a fool to think we only did it because Kennedy said we should or because the Soviets wanted to as well.

The Spacex proposal looks like something out of a 50s scifi. It's as decent an idea as any for something like a semi reusable moon base. I just wonder if it's too ambitious a plan for an initial landing. Maybe get an astronaut or two up there, then go from there.

I like Blue Origin and their slow burn method. It's a nice contrast to Spacex style of everything in your face, everything made into a spectacle. I think once Blue gets up and running with orbital launches, it's going to be very impressive.
 
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Erebus
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Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:40 am

Re: NASA Artemis Selection Announced

Sat May 02, 2020 5:05 pm

GDB wrote:
Orion is designed for deep space, including some radiation protection, basic storm shelter if a solar flare occurs during a mission (Apollo lacked the latter).
Whereas Dragon is designed to do well what it is intended for, as a short duration ferry flight to/from LEO.
It's heatshield is designed to protect against the re-entry from LEO, rather slower and less dynamic than from trans Lunar coast.
Doubtless Space X could modify it, would not be optimal though.


Can SpaceX make an earth crew return vehicle out of the Starship? It seems to have a bare-bones appearance (does it even have a heat shield??) and how is it "fully reusable" as claimed by SpaceX other than being a shuttle from lunar orbit to moon surface and back to lunar orbit.
 
GDB
Posts: 13746
Joined: Wed May 23, 2001 6:25 pm

Re: NASA Artemis Selection Announced

Sat May 02, 2020 6:39 pm

Erebus wrote:
GDB wrote:
Orion is designed for deep space, including some radiation protection, basic storm shelter if a solar flare occurs during a mission (Apollo lacked the latter).
Whereas Dragon is designed to do well what it is intended for, as a short duration ferry flight to/from LEO.
It's heatshield is designed to protect against the re-entry from LEO, rather slower and less dynamic than from trans Lunar coast.
Doubtless Space X could modify it, would not be optimal though.


Can SpaceX make an earth crew return vehicle out of the Starship? It seems to have a bare-bones appearance (does it even have a heat shield??) and how is it "fully reusable" as claimed by SpaceX other than being a shuttle from lunar orbit to moon surface and back to lunar orbit.


Good question.
The basic design of Starship is of course to get to Mars.
I understand that re-entry from trans Mars coast is about 20% higher than from trans Lunar.
However, this proposal for the Moon is a modification, including ascent engines about halfway up, (you would not want to land on the Moon with the main Starship engines, create a huge volume of dust and even smaller rocks, the former being problematic, since having no atmosphere and 1/6th G means that stuff isn't just coming right down).

In fact, whatever proposal is chosen, even our limited experience, best shown by the 3 day surface stays of Apollos 15-17, is that the dust even after a 7 hour EVA when a proportion of it is in transit on a (open) rover, get's everywhere, starts to clog up even the finely made for each crew member space suit joins and zips. Cernan on 17 had to fix a broken fender with manual pages and gaffer tape, otherwise the dust spray would have threatened the rover's electronics as well as covering them.

All designs will, unlike Apollo, have airlocks,

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