Adventures In Deep Space

A blog about turning our "crazy" big idea to transform deep space exploration into a real company (click on header above to view this blog's home page)

Terminology, Jargon and Acronyms

August 24, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

Updated as I read and research.

Jargon and Acronyms

  • MCSB - Modular Common Spacecraft Bus, NASA Ames project for cost reducing interplanetary missions, essentially unused
  • MSV - Modular Space Vehicle bus, military implementation of MCSB concept, not intended for use beyond Earth orbit
  • NASA - American Space Agency
  • JAXA - Japan Space Agency
  • ISRO - Indian Space Research Organization (space agency)
  • ESA - European Space Agency
  • LEO/GEO - Low Earth Orbit / Geosyncrous Earth Orbit

Terminology and Informal Definitions

  • remote-sensing - using instruments on satellites to gather information about a subject of interest (usually, the Earth)
  • space mission architecture - all the pieces put together - spacecraft, orbits, launch vehicles, ground systems, etc.
  • payload - what fulfills the mission, the scientific instruments, essentially
  • bus - the common infrastructure enabling the payload to function
  • operations concept - how the pieces fit together
  • mission operations systems - ground and space based infrastructure
  • flight control team - people running the operation
  • mission management and operations - everything needed from start to finish
  • flight / operations / mission director - manages flight control inputs, evaluates data, and makes decisions
  • swath width - satellite's coverage of the surface area of object being studied
  • parking orbit, transfer orbit, orbit - temporary; takes you from initial to final; path traveled around object
  • Lagrange Point (L1/L2/L3/L4/L5) - positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two body system like the Sun and the Earth produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion. These can be used by spacecraft as "parking spots" in space to remain in a fixed position with minimal fuel consumtion. (NASA Definition); the shorthand may refer to any set of these relative to two bodies, not just Earth/Sun (for instance, Jupiter's collection of Trojan asteroids); EML1-5 (Earth Moon Lagrange) and SEL1-5 (Sun Earth Lagrange);
  • mass driver - aka "electromagnetic catapult"; efficient way to propel objects, particularly useful in a low gravity / no atmosphere context like the Moon
  • mass catcher - designed to "catch" items in space launched by a mass driver
  • rotary pellet launcher (RPL) - propulsion system, a rapidly-rotating tube, ejecting pellets of rock at high velocity, proposed by Gerard O'Neill
  • ablation propulsion - uses lasers or electron beams

Tags: jargon, acronyms, terminology

Modular Common Spacecraft Bus (MCSB)

August 23, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

NASA Ames has designed something conceptually similar in motivation to what we're contemplating:

"The Ames Modular Common Spacecraft Bus is a lightweight carbon composite structure designed to accommodate launch loads and provide attenuation of impact loads. It is also designed for ease of manufacturing and assembly. The modularity of the design is intended not only for multiple mission configurations, but also parallelism in development and assembly. The system-level components were drawn from low-cost flight-proven product lines." Source: Ames Modular Common Spacecraft Bus - NASA web site

It has apparently flown once, in 2013, as Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), this is discussed by Spaceref in NASA's LADEE - Testing a Multi-Use Spacecraft Design and in cites below. It was a part of the proposed but not greenlighted Phobos And Deimos & Mars Environment (PADME) mission (2020).

It looks like the military found this to be more interesting, and had Northrup-Grumman develop a similar concept starting in 2010 and delivered in 2014, in conjunction with NASA and USU (host of the conference where a paper on the MCSB was delivered in 2009), the Modular Space Vehicle (MSV) Bus. However, this is not intended for use beyond earth orbit.

Jargon of interest referenced in the above article, "The MSV implements a Modular Open System Approach (MOSA) using Space Plug-n-Play Avionics (SPA)."

Tags: satellite-bus, spacetech, jargon, further-reading