Returning to Space and the Moon   Page 1

This website has a "PROJECTS" tab - under it I have an "Earth's Moon" tab.  In that section I stated some primary reasons why humans should return to the Moon and three obstacles that must be mitigated.  More definition was added by my section "Why Return to the Moon?".  "A Vision for the Near Future" was my lead-in for "Returning to the Moon" intended to present current and near future hardware that will allow the United States to again launch her own people into space and a return to the Moon in the next few years .

After launching "A Vision for the Near Future" I discovered that Bigelow Aerospace (BA) had been contacted by NASA to reach out and query the commercial sector about returning to the Moon.  After some quick and deep research I found that what Mr. Bigelow presented to NASA in two reports were not mentioned on the BA website nor published at NASA.  I like Mr. Bigelow and what he has proposed.

We have the framework for new manned crew vehicles, expandables, and a current (and developing) rocket inventory capable of returning to space and going on to the Moon.

The United States must recapture the ability to launch into, perform operations and return safely from the space environment.  To return to the moon we need a purpose of being there to establish a small facility.  In respect to the Moon we should be prepared not to spend just a few hours or days but possibly weeks to months leading to continuous habitation.  Much is already in initial design phase in respect to asteroids, going to orbit Mars, and occupying Earth-Moon Lagrange point L2...we can make use of the design results.

I believe everything required for not only returning to the space environment but returning to the Moon can be available in the 2015-2016 timeframe.  Some of these items are in RDT&E (Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation).  
What I view as the shopping list for transporting our people to and from the space environment is in green and what I view for a successful lunar manned facility is the combination of green and blue:

     Launch vehicles to get to LEO   America, Russia and the EU have capable systems.
     Manned crew vehicle much like the Apollo CSM module to be in lunar orbit.  Dragon, CST-100 and Orion are
          in development - throw more money at them.
     Lunar landing/ascent craft (preferably "refillable").  Currently unavailable
     BA-330 (ideally two) and a BA BEAM type module as a decom port.  BA projects first production of  
          BA-300's capable of housing a crew of six in 2015
     Method of lunar surface transportation with the ability to move lunar regolith   
          Perhaps this 
rover would be suitable with modifications for surface operations.
     Engines to propel modules from LEO to lunar orbit   ULA, EU and Russia have launch systems.
     Life support stores for 6 people for three months
     Lunar surface power systems  such as
this being developed  

I don't believe I've left any mission criticle elements out...if anyone thinks of something I've missed feel free to drop me an email.

These should be the primary objectives for lunar operations:
 Establishing an initial lunar surface operations platform;
     Testing developed methods of lunar "dust" removal in the decom port;
     Measuring electrostatic charging on structures and equipment;
     Measuring surface radiation and interior craft radiation;
     Covering a lunar manned structure in regolith and measuring/monitoring internal radiation;
     Collecting crater samples to evaluate water-ice for water, hydrogen and oxygen;
     Testing robotic systems; and
     Testing methods of Helium-3 extraction.

Radiation protection is paramount in long duration manned and electronic systems.