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Moon Seven

In 2016, a small team of enthusiasts at Lin Industrial considered the question of possibility to create a lunar base faster and cheaper than specified in the official plans. The proposal was named Moon Seven (the seventh landing of humans on the Moon).

The basic idea is the use of what is available, with minimum upgrade. Of course, when studied in depth, it turns out that this minimum upgrade is often a complete remake, because spacecraft are not bricks of children's construction set, which can be rearranged in any way at will. However, the maximum use of what is already available was claimed, and the rejection of things that require long-term refinement or creation (nuclear space tug, super heavy-lift launch vehicle etc.). That is only technologies available today or within 5 years.

The only possible option for the base of the transportation system is Angara launch vehicle. Several options for its upgrade were considered, including the utmost one the replacement of the third stage with LOX/LH2 (oxygen and hydrogen) space tug. This Angara upgrade appeared in the Federal Space Program as well.

Preliminary estimates indicated that, using Angara with LOX/LH2 space tug and Fregat-based lander, it is possible to put 3 to 4 metric tons on the surface of the Moon. 4 tons is very little, of course. To fit in 4 tons a spacecraft that delivers crew to the Moon, and to fit in 4 tons lunar base modules, are non-trivial tasks. However, for the next 10 years for Russia this is the only option for payload delivered, unless dockings are considered.

An option for lunar manned spacecraft based on Soyuz spacecraft modules was also considered. Some thought that Soyuz is put onto Fregat and sent to the Moon. No, it's not Soyuz, but a fundamentally new spacecraft, of course. The main disadvantage is that it requires the creation of this spacecraft, and the spacecraft is to be very light (4 tons without engine compartment based on Fregat) and modern. Two options are considered: spacecraft based on Soyuz and based on the return capsule (VA) of the TKS spacecraft. The spacecraft based on the return capsule of the TKS is arranged much better as it has a hatch in the bottom allowing to place an airlock below the return capsule.

The point is that in Moon Seven proposed to use a direct ascent method to reach the surface of the Moon. Sure, this method is inferior in terms of energy to lunar orbit rendezvous used by Apollo. However, there are some advantages: no dockings are needed, no need to keep the spacecraft in lunar orbit for long period. The spacecraft waits next to the landing site, and can be used anytime for the return to Earth. There are some advantages and some reductions of mass, though somewhat compensated due to the refueling on the lunar surface. First, two refueling tanker spacecraft are sent to the Moon. Next, a manned spacecraft lands nearby and is refueled from them for the return flight. There is no need to bring this fuel to the surface in the same spacecraft.

It's interesting that on RSC Energia website some documents of 1960s were published about lunar mission options using the N1 launch vehicle. It was found that direct ascent option was also considered. It is called "Lunar mission profile with refueling on the surface of the Moon". Diagrams drawn during the development of Moon Seven are very similar to what was proposed by OKB-1 in the distant sixties. Even the number of refueling tanker spacecraft is the same. That's another proof of the fact that this option is viable under certain initial conditions. Then in 2016 the Moon Seven version 2.0 was considered, in which an upgraded Soyuz spacecraft is used instead of a new spacecraft. In this case a launch vehicled with payload of about 40 metric tons to LEO is needed.

In November 1961 NASA's Office of Launch Vehicle Programs asked each of three field centers to prepare a brief for one form of rendezvous mission. Marshall was to work on Earth orbit, Langley on lunar orbit, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Lunar Surface Rendezvous (LSR). Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, suggested a link-up of vehicles on the moon itself. A number of unmanned payloads - a vehicle designed to return to earth and one or more tankers - would land on the lunar surface at a preselected site. Using automatic devices, the return vehicle could then be refueled and checked out by ground control before the crew left the earth. After the manned spacecraft arrived on the moon, the crew would transfer to the fully fueled return vehicle for the trip home. One of the earliest proposals for this approach was put together by Allyn B. Hazard, a senior development engineer at the laboratory. His 1959 scheme laid the groundwork for JPL's campaign for lunar-surface rendezvous during the Apollo mode deliberations.

This involved launching a fuel cache and a few other unmanned components of a return spacecraft to the moon's surface a payload of some 5000 pounds-and then landing astronauts separately in a second spacecraft whose fuel supply would be exhausted just reaching the moon. The notion, as absurd as it now sounds, was for the landed astronauts to leave their craft and locate the previously deposited hardware (homing beacons previously landed as part of the unmanned Surveyor program were to make pinpoint landings possible) and then to assemble and fuel a new spacecraft for the return trip home. The spacecraft would be checked out by television monitoring equipment before sending men from earth to the landing area via a second spacecraft.

At the time of the 1962 announcement, the concept of an Apollo manned lunar landing using the earth orbit rendezvous mode called for each moon mission to have earth launchings of two or more advanced Saturns. Detailed analysis of the rival schemes found that orbital rendezvous promised the best chance for an early lunar landing, the lunar orbit [LOR] version perhaps the quickest. In the committee's final "summary rating" of the comparative value of the various rendezvous concepts, however, lunar-surface rendezvous finished only slightly lower than did LOR. It was not easy to modify Apollo Program lunar mission architecture from its original "direct ascent" concept to lunar orbit rendezvous, but it was a necessary refinement in meeting programmatic goals.

The robotic lander Surveyor 3 participated in the only lunar surface rendezvous when Apollo 12 landed nearby in November 1969. The astronauts visited the 2-1/2- year-old lunar station photographed it and the site and brought some of its parts back to Earth.

Lin Industrial has also evaluated a Lunar Orbit Rendezvous architecture in which the Soyuz-based crew module flies to the Moon separately from a un-manned lunar lander which would be launched separately. The two rendezvous in Lunar orbit, the crew conducts a Lunar surface excursion, returns to the Soyuz, which then returns to Earth.

Alexander Ilin, CTO of Lin Industrial, on April 8, 2016 noted that "Manned circumlunar flight is already possible today! Existing slightly upgraded Soyuz spacecraft docks with Block D upper stage, launched by Proton-M or Angara A5, and makes a circumlunar flight. What can be done during the flight? First, lunar rovers can be operated without signal transmission delay. Second, prestige: breaking the human flight altitude record set by Apollo 13; first woman near the Moon.

"Next, mission with lunar orbit insertion doesn't even require creating hydrogen infrastructure. Two Angara A5 launch vehicles, DM-3 and Fregat-SB upper stages. With two Angara A5 launches it is possible to implement a mission in Soyuz spacecraft to a lunar orbit. Then observe the surface from a polar orbit around the Moon, operate lunar rovers. All the technology for such a mission is available today in Russia, and only some adaptation and ground infrastructure improvement is needed (refitting Angara launch pad for manned missions, or building a launch pad suitable for manned missions at Vostochny Cosmodrome).

"Such a mission is real before 2020, and allows to achieve some firsts world's first activity in polar orbit around the Moon, first taking of soil sample controlled from manned spacecraft, etc. And the third stage of Moon Seven v2.0 is Moon landing. It will take four Angara A5 launches."

Moon Seven Moon Seven

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Page last modified: 04-05-2019 18:18:01 ZULU