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Open the gate to deep space

David Murrow, senior director of business development for the civil space sector at Lockheed Martin, describes in an interview with the "Hidan" website during the 13th Ilan Ramon Space Conference held this week in Tel Aviv the company's future plans for manned missions. Initially two test launches of the manned spacecraft (Orion), and later - a landing on the moon and a satellite that will orbit the moon known as the "Deep Space Gateway" Moro also refers to the competing companies and the cancellation of the Google Lunar Xprize competition.

The simulation of the Orion spacecraft, with which NASA intends to send astronauts to "deep space" - in the first stage to orbit around the moon, and perhaps in the future even to Mars. Source: NASA.
The simulation of the Orion spacecraft, with which NASA intends to send astronauts to "deep space" - in the first stage to an orbit around the moon, and perhaps in the future even to Mars. Source: NASA.

"Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building for NASA the manned Orion spacecraft, the first spacecraft to reach the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. An entire module of the spacecraft was built by the European Space Agency. All the components will be brought together in Florida in about a year with the launch of the first test flight EM1, still without astronauts, scheduled for September 2017.

A spacecraft will orbit the moon for 7-21 days, depending on the launch date according to the lunar calendar). The flight to the lunar orbit or back from it will take about four days, similar to the Apollo spacecraft because the speed to which the spacecraft needs to reach is the same."

"However, the big difference will be in the orbit around the moon. Apollo was designed to orbit the moon at a low altitude, because of the need for a landing. In the first mission, we do not plan to land, even though Orion was originally designed to reach a low orbit and support a manned flight (which will be carried out, if and when this becomes possible, by means of a separate lander, as in the Apollo AB missions). We did not complete the planning of the manned mission because in the eight years of the previous administration in the USA it was decided not to land on the moon but to continue directly to the asteroid simply because a manned landing on the moon is something that has already been done in the past and humans should move on. The current regime has approved a manned landing on the lunar surface, so we can expect that Orion will be asked to support a manned landing on the moon."
"The closest point that Orion will reach on the first flight will be 60 thousand kilometers from the surface of the moon, but it will have at least one advantage over the spacecraft that fly today only to the space station - it will be located far above the layer that protects us from the dangerous parts of solar radiation. Outside this bubble, the magnetic radiation will be much stronger and the energetic particles are repelled by the magnetic field, and surround it. We don't see this in low Earth orbit."

David Murrow, senior director of business development for the civil space sector at Lockheed Martin; At the 13th space conference in memory of Ilan Ramon at Tel Aviv University, 29/1/18. Photo: Avi Blizovsky
David Murrow, senior director of business development for the civil space sector at Lockheed Martin; At the 13th space conference in memory of Ilan Ramon at Tel Aviv University, 29/1/18. Photo: Avi Blizovsky

In response to the comment of the "Hidan" website, that the Apollo mission was put in danger from the beginning, because the end of the decade of the XNUMXs was exactly at the peak of the solar cycle, Moro said: "The Apollo mission was driven mainly by political motivations, to beat the Soviet Union in the competition, so even if this consideration stood For the planners, its weight was very small compared to the need to beat the Russians."

"In any case, we will reach the moon and explore the stronger radiation environment than within the Earth's magnetic field. One of the experimental accessories we are taking to the first test flight will be a radiation protection suit known as Astro-Red, which we are developing in collaboration with the Israeli company Stem-Red. Lockheed Martin and Steam Red have been working together for about two and a half years. The suit protects the blood-forming organs (stem cells) and all other internal organs in the body from particles with strong energy."
"Orion herself is quite safe, even without the suit. If a solar storm occurs during a manned Orion flight, the astronauts will be able to hide in a special storm shelter and they will be protected from the radiation (by a layer of water and the AB spacecraft's computing equipment). Astro Red will allow the astronauts to move freely throughout the cabin, and continue their missions. While staying in the radiation shelter, all activity must be stopped. Such a storm may last two days, and the astronauts will have 7 to 21 days near the moon, and they need to constantly perform surveillance operations on the spacecraft."
"The suit will be able to help astronauts carry out their work, whether it is monitoring a scientific experiment, monitoring the telemetry, making observations, etc."

The first time astronauts will fly Orion will be in the EM2 mission planned for 2022. If the EM1 experiment is successful, the Astro Red suit will also fly into space in the second mission.
Either way, the two spacecraft will circle the moon and land back on Earth. It is important to remember that Orion is the capsule that will bring us from Earth to the Moon and back. He won't be a Marine. A lander will need a much more energetic propulsion system and will certainly have landing legs. Lockheed Martin is also building the Mars lander (robotic of course) INSIGHT LANDER, which will be launched in May of this year.
All the same components that are in the Mars lander will also have to be in a manned lunar lander, but on a much larger scale."

The space is gradually passing into private hands. How do you stand in competition with companies like SpaceX and Boeing that will fly humans soon?

"NASA decided in 2010 to choose these two companies to develop for it the commercial launch capability of humans to the space station. Orion was designed to reach the International Space Station and we still meet the requirements and can do so if necessary - it is no longer in our mission profile. Orion's mission is to fly to the moon. In the opposite direction it is a little different. The spacecraft of these two companies were designed to fly exclusively to the International Space Station so they have a short mission of a day or two to reach the space station and then connect to the station's systems. Orion is planned to fly for at least 21 days without being dependent on any other spacecraft. The commercial manned spacecraft are intended to be taxis that will transport humans to the space station and back."
"Lockheed Martin is also a private company, traded in New York. We work with the government on traditional government contracts. The commercial crew spacecraft to the space station are also funded by the state, but in a slightly different way designed to encourage them. All seats for the foreseeable future will be purchased by NASA. Theoretically, these companies could carry out private launches and bring tourists to the space station, but this has already been done by the Russian government."

"It is indeed a new era. We welcome the competition. Competition is always good to keep us at the forefront of the field. One of our plans is to build the launch system that will be significantly cheaper than today's launches, so that NASA can afford to build more infrastructure around the moon. One of them will be Deep Space Gateway - a satellite that will circle the moon and Orion will come to visit it at least once a year in the late twenties. It will have a residential area and communication systems, and it will provide communication to spacecraft on the surface of the moon and in the future it will also be possible to bring samples that will be sent to it from the surface of the moon and will be concentrated there for sending to Earth in the upcoming Orion mission. The Deep Space Gateway is how NASA and Lockheed Martin hope to open up space to business interests. The more participation of the business space sector - the better for us. Competition is a good thing, and customers are a good thing."

The field of space has experienced two significant disasters - the loss of the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia which caused the development to stop and even retreat. What would be the effect of losing a commercial spacecraft?
Moro: "It is difficult to estimate what the impact of a commercial manned spacecraft crash will be on the industry, but I estimate that there will be damage. What we can guarantee about Orion is that astronaut safety comes first. We work closely with NASA and with bodies that deal with safety, to ensure that these things do not happen in our spacecraft."

Still, are there dangers such as space debris?
"Space debris is a problem mainly for those who fly to the International Space Station, where most of its mass is located. The Orion spacecraft will pass through this layer quite quickly. We are of course prepared to prevent damage as a result of a micro meteorite impact. We know the lunar environment very well, we built the GRAIL spacecraft that mapped the gravitational fields of the moon as well as the LRO. We know the dangers in the lunar environment and our engineers promise to build a very safe system."

"Manned space missions are an important element of Lockheed Martin's future plans, but we also build robotic spacecraft and explore the solar system and the universe. We operate the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes that recently discovered the TRAPEST 1 planetary system and, as I mentioned, in May we are about to launch the InSight lander that will land on the surface of Mars and whose mission will be to measure earthquakes on Mars in order to understand what is going on in the depths of the Martian soil. The GRAIL mission includes two spacecraft that orbit the moon one after the other at regular intervals, and by comparing the gravity values ​​at the same point in the two spacecraft separately, we can measure the moon's gravitational field."

Speaking of the moon, how about canceling the Google Lunar XPrize?

"Unfortunately, it was cancelled. We participated in the development with some of the teams in the early stages. They asked our opinion. The competition was indeed cancelled, but in terms of increasing the number of participants in the field of space, it achieved its goal. The competition did encourage the private New Space market and this is important, because this market receives funding from completely different sources. Instead of receiving funding from the state through one or another contractual mechanism, which looks like a new space but is actually an old space with a contract change. Thanks to the competition, companies such as Moon Express and SPACEIL arose here in Israel, which tried to raise funding in a new way, among others from venture capital funds, and created new business models for financing space missions. We think this is a great contribution. We are disappointed that the competition has been cancelled. From our conversations with the companies I understand that they promise to move forward. Of course, before them is the most expensive stage of any space mission - the launch. They will likely fly as secondary payloads on other launches, but they will still need to develop all the equipment needed to land on the moon themselves. I wish everyone the best of luck."
"And as I mentioned, with the launch of the deep space gateway by NASA, we will be able to assist all these companies in communicating with their spacecraft on the moon, and perhaps even in the recovery of soil samples. The competition is designed to be a catalyst for all these companies."

2 תגובות

  1. "All the components will be brought together in Florida in about a year when the launch of the first test flight EM1, still without astronauts, is scheduled for September 2017." - Is this a mistake or is the article out of date?

  2. It is clear that this is a very complex system that must withstand harsh extreme conditions, the departure and return from Earth is a very difficult technological challenge even after decades of launches and it is likely that there are impressive achievements there even if it looks like another Apollo spaceship, but the titles attached by the system developers may be a little misleading,
    Astronauts to "deep space"? The moon is the closest thing to the earth, it is the closest space,
    No one will fly in a sardine box like this to Mars, there is maybe enough volume to keep a mouse alive until Mars - edible air, etc.. But not humans, of course people will connect it to something bigger that requires development, so it is possible, so the description of it is more like a type of a short-range space shuttle from a description of a spaceship cruising around the solar system,
    The only one pursuing this direction in the foreseeable future is Space X. Success is of course not guaranteed, which makes it unique
    This is the thinking on the economic side and what was less true was regarding his competitors who were used to receiving a fixed share of the government pie no matter what the price of the launch which caused them continuous degeneration

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