Lunar Starship Triumphant!! Why did NASA decide to take perhaps the biggest risk in its history?



The Angry Astronaut delves into many details of the final HLS report, and discovers a number of curious details…

Go waaaaaaaay back and see the video where I advocated resupplying the Lunar Gateway!

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Zubrin’s case…

Op-ed | Toward a coherent Artemis plan

The complete NASA file…
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/option-a-source-selection-statement-final.pdf .

32 comments
  1. Hey, guys!! Like so many things in the report, I too got something wrong. The Blue Origin lander uses Hydrolox…unlike their other engines. However, this actually makes the NASA statement more difficult to understand.
    Hydrolox has actually been tested, and used, as a propellant on lots of different occasions. It is, after all, what is used by the RS25 on the Shuttle, and on the third stage of the Saturn V IN SPACE. It is Methalox that has never been tested in space, and is an unproven fuel, making it a weakness for Starship and not for BO. In addition, the propellant boiloff rate for hydrolox was tested by ULA over ten years ago in space, during their ill fated effort to look for a fuel depot design.
    I apologize for the error, and certainly don't support the BO design, but stand by my assessment that this criteria, among many in the report, makes little sense.

  2. I think it goes beyond cost, but also signals the end of SLS. That there are folks at NASA who hope that they'll be able to eventually dump SLS, if you're already using starship converting to also use super heavy, which will be substantially cheaper than SLS much easier and faster. All the other landers and such were still in many ways dependent on SLS or would rely on rockets not proven out. BO has yet to launch an orbital class rocket, ULA is in the dog house for a while until they can show they're back on their game, thus leaving only Space X that would later on be able to offer full cheaper launch capability evolved from already proven flight systems. ULA/Boeing has yet to get people to ISS and BO hasn't launched anything let alone has any history and experience like ULA and SpaceX.

    Effectively I think the primary motive was to backdoor a way to keep development of a lander that could easily be converted to a much cheaper launch platform once folks get tired of the SLS' outrageous cost.

  3. I find this particular video with a lot of mistakes and assumptions. dV added per tanker is wrong. Check SpaceXs own chart from their presentation in 2019 I believe. Among other things like the plume problem on the moon, which is not going to be a thing.

  4. Why can't dynetics solve the problem while SpaceX can: the answer is simply budget.

    Dynetics isn't going to solve the problem unless NASA pays for it. SpaceX is developing the starship on its own dime anyway.

  5. It's not ideal that this decision was made (from what you pointed out) based on price, I honestly don't see any other contendor even coming close to meeting the goals for Artemis. At least SpaceX was chosen on price, because I think they can actually deliver.

  6. So the reason why the starship can keep the fuel cool is because it will have enough spare fuel that it can vent some, which in space will cool the fuel inside the tanks keeping it cool. Also I imagine they have plenty of room for solar panels and radiator s on the starship to offset any heat from the sun heating the fuel. But that is just my guess.

  7. I’m totally confused as to why SS needs 120 tons of fuel to take off from the moon, given that the gravity is 1/6G and all the cargo has been unloaded. Also I don’t like any of the solutions based on building a permanent lunar base. I’d like to see a design for a horizontal lander the size of Starship that is basically a truss with 2 engines per corner, a detachable hab within the truss and a small pressurised crew compartment for ascent. It could therefore land, use the hab with an airlock between the ascent compartment and the hab, and when it’s time to leave, detach the hab and launch in a VTOL style with just the small ascent vehicle and the truss, to be used for landing the next hab section. The hab sections could perhaps even have extendable wheels to allow them to be moved around and connected together. A tug could be used from LEO to gateway to deliver new hab sections to gateway for delivery to the lunar surface. Taking a An empty Starship back to LEO make no sense. Small craft such as Orion or a next Dragon is ample for taking crew back and forward (unless you wanted to send say 50 people at a time), whereas a cargo Starship could deliver components for base building.

  8. The Lunar debris plume problem has been addressed, that is why there are a ring of smaller engines around the lunar lander starship near the top well away from the surface. It's not going to blast a crater. This is not a recent development, I think it has been in their plan for a year or more.

  9. Tanker refuel counts seem kinda bogus IMHO. I don't think it needs that much. An empty Starship makes it all much easier for initial missions. P.S. when starship slingshots around the moon it's going to end the debate in the public eye even if it doesn't fully solve the delta v concerns. The only question I have is how many starship launches does it take to refuel a starship in orbit. The other big advantage here is that all those launches and refueling operations are unmanned and can be done in orbit long before any crew is launched to rendezvous. Unmanned complexity is fine especially if it is merely repetitive and risks no lives.

  10. It's really not clear that Space X WILL be able to deliver at the quoted price. Cheap might turn out to be really, really, expensive in the long run.

  11. SpaceX intends to use engines far up on the vehicle, as shown in the renders. That removes a lot of the debris problem during landing and launch. Also, they plan to do the refueling with a tanker in orbit so that when the lander launches, all the fuel is waiting for it in orbit.

  12. I can't afford to donate to you on Patreon ? so I guess I'll have to ask you this here.
    @AngryAstronaut,
    What are your thoughts on nuclear electric power such as the x3 engine?
    Just curious. Thanks.

  13. Finally, you have to ask yourself, how much equipment can National team and Alpaca groups carry compared to Starship? There's just no comparison. Alpaca runs into the rocket equation problem…bigger tanks, more fuel, and larger engines allow for an increased mass fraction, but then the vehicle won't fit into the faring. While indeed SpaceX has to work through it's orbital refueling program, Alpaca doesn't even have a "refueling station". The national team probably put their money on their "concept" because SLS would be needed to lanch most of it. SpaceX just offers too much "all-in-one" capability and redundancy to say no to. Luna landing is not the problem as aforementioned, and the Starship reentry is the only thing needed for orbital refueling. Worse case scenario, carry more fuel on non-reentering Starships …no aerosurfaces, no SL Raptors and use remaining SS tanks for raw construction material in LEO, fuel depots (shading would have to be added) or reenter and burn them up. ,
    StellarSpeed1

  14. Blue Origin was the second choice because this forces the Blue Origin alliance's lobbyists to push the Congress for more funding to the Artemis program. NASA has picked the cheapest solution, so nobody can attack NASA for their decision publicly. From now on, if the Congress wanna feed the big companies they also need to give NASA more money and they cannot blackmail with budget cuts forcing NASA to favor one contractor over others. This also pushes the Biden administration to take the Artemis program more seriously. Clever politics.

  15. Mr. Angry, perhaps it's already be mentioned, but it's been common knowledge for some time that the retro-rockets mounted just above mid- ships on the Star-moonship would be handling the landing on the moon's surface. Others, including Robert Z pointed out the cratering problem with using Raptors for landing early on….and SpaceX solved the problem quite awhile ago. Some 20-24 retrorockets will be used to land instead of the larger ? number of rockets noted in the1st renderings of Star- moon ship. , StellarSpeed1

  16. 21:01

    True, but the key factor here: SpaceX is already testing landing for their prototypes. From NASA's point of view, that alone already makes them more reliable than any other proposal.

    And this is coming from someone who thinks landing a tower on the moon is too risky and it's probably gonna end with a tragedy.

  17. It’s about money and politics, nothing else. Given the funding, it’s SpaceX or nothing. When Congress realizes what has happened, more money will suddenly appear and SpaceX will have the appearance of Competition.

  18. I think you guys are missing the obvious here. SpaceX won because they bid BELOW break even cost. Hell, each Apollo lander cost $2.34B as adjusted and they didn't carry 100 tons now did they? Nor did they travel on their own to Moon orbit. Now why would Elon do that? Because of Starship! The end-all and be-all of all this is STARSHIP! As long as he gets a "Good Enough" Starship he'll be sending Starlink satellites 400 at a time and get his Starlink Moohlaas years earlier than planned. It's that money that gets him to Mars!

  19. Landing starships are not necessary to perform a lunar mission. Negative mass is a bigger issue.

    These factors + taking price into account make the decision fairly straightforward.

    I'd imagine another factor is the similarities between the ambition of Starship and the emotion of the Apollo missions+Saturn V.

  20. This is much ado about…something. True $2.9B is an eye-popping amount but considering that SpaceX is paid in increments based on accomplished milestones, SpaceX will have to shell out some more to get paid (get this) 3% of the whole Artemis program budget to do 15% of the whole program! Yeah! Get Angry! Meanwhile, SLS costs $2.5B/year since 10 years ago, eating up 30% of the whole budget. NASA is getting a 100-ton capacity freighter+crewship in Starship for fkn dirt cheap!

  21. NASA: "SpaceX is not a good option right now"
    Elon Musk: "I'll eat 4bn to get on a Human rated program so I can go to Mars later without much hassle"
    NASA: "SpaceX is the best option"

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