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)

Technical Tidbits

August 29, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

Useful factoids.

  • With regards to Langrange Points - L1 useful bc Earth shields satellites from most of the Sun's radiation; L2 useful for solar observations; L4/L5 self stabilizing (even less fuel needed to maintain position); also: "Lagrange points offer very low energy transfer points for spacecraft on their way to and from other parts of the solar system. They enable new orbital dynamics for fuel-strapped missions of exploration." Quote from THE LAGRANGE POINTS - aka "Lagrange point transfers" (see embedded NASA diagram), also see this StackExchange discussion which also has a useful diagram. Another term (from the StackExchange link): "weak stability boundary trajectories" (a Google search reveals all sorts of interesting papers on this topic); two sets most relevant are EML (Earth/Moon) and SEL (Sun/Earth)
  • PATHOS:A MATLABā€based Weak Stability Boundary Orbital Trajectory Simulator for Use in Interplanetary Mission Design

Tags: spacetech, interesting-info

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

Satellite Bus Systems

August 23, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

The following are of interest as they are instantiations of our concept (radical cost reduction via mass production and standardization) at some level, as per Wikipedia "built to the same model of structural frame, propulsion, spacecraft power and intra-spacecraft communication". What is NOT happening here, is construction in volume, ala a "production line", each of these is still being "purpose built" (and probably by hand, as well).

Tags: spacetech, satellite-bus, market

Timeframes For Realizing Our Goals and Developing Product

August 21, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

The end goals of this project are dependent on heavy lift capacity beyond Earth orbit becoming commercially available. My estimate is that this will occur within a 3-5 year time frame, based off the 2023 target date for the "dearMoon" project's circumlunar journey on Starship. This implies the latter is well on the way towards commercialization, since by then it will be human rated and a successful preliminary circumlunar test flight will have been completed. Given Musk's "production line" philosophy, that implies quite a substantial amount of beyond Earth orbit lift capacity being built and potentially available for use by folks other than SpaceX itself (as, of course, is the case with SpaceX's current series of rockets).

This also, of course, allows for the advancement of many other relevant technologies, one example of which is listed below (others may be added later as I continue to read and gather information).

...and finally, this gives our company plenty of time, itself, to develop a launch ready product. This isn't the type of engineering that happens overnight, and while we won't be taking a conventional approach to manufacturing and design, it is still prudent to keep in mind that this stuff is HARD, and that some things just take time to complete.

Tags: spacetech, lift-capacity, beyond-earth-orbit, dearmoon, starship, planning