24 thoughts on “Apollo Versus Artemis”

          1. I suspect that a partial flight is quite possible during the “green run” test. I can see the press release now;

            “The SLS vehicle has successfully attained multiple simultaneous trajectories…”

  1. That was a pretty good video.

    The cost issue – SLS looks to be a little less costly than Saturn 5. It’s also significantly less capable – and requires much more capable landers as a result. Assuming, that is, that SLS can come close to its performance goals. I don’t hate SLS – I hate its pricetag. If its actual cost was, say, 20 million a launch, I’d be a big supporter. As-is though, I consider it one of the biggest boondoggles in human history.

    I also take issue with the 870 million per launch price for later launches. Baloney; the RS-25E at 146 million each makes that far too low, as do other associated ongoing costs such as infrastructure, workforce, etc.

    I’m looking forward to the video on alternatives. IMHO, Artimis can be made to work with just a few adjustments to the mission profile. The lander needs to be launched with a commercial vehicle (not including Starship, which has a very different mission profile and needs Superheavy). Right now, only one available commercial vehicle has the TLI potential for the other two landers, and that’s FH – and, worse, it would require two FH launches per lander, and even worse (depending on mass-through-TLI needed) at least one might be expendable-mode. (Very expensive at 150M – though vastly cheaper than any other option).

    The “Lunar Starship” concept is interesting, and could enable the crew to board in LEO rather than lunar orbit. If so, then a slightly modified mission profile would use SLS, F9/Dragon, and Lunar Starship;
    Launch Superheavy/Lunar Starship, then launch 5 prop-loading Starship missions. Then, launch a F9/Dragon with the crew, rendezvous in LEO. The crew uses Lunar Starship for the entire lunar mission, then does multi-pass aerocapture (no heat shield needed) to return to LEO. There, they board the waiting Dragon for EDL, while Lunar Starship waits for prop loading for its next mission.

    SLS’s role? NASA can roll it out to the pad on one of those billion dollar crawlers, where it can serve as a photogenic backdrop for all the speeches made during the ongoing lunar mission. (In this role, SLS would be fully reusable – surely a plus?).

    1. See, in trying to calculate a cost per launch, you’re assuming “a launch”. I think launching an SLS would be a tragic waste of money, compared to just parking it in a museum as a monument to financial stupidity and government programs that refuse to die. Perhaps they could put the Web Space Telescope on the upper stage, kind of like a cherry on top.

      1. You’re right, George; the per-unit cost of SLS could be drastically reduced by that method. To name just one savings, instead of RS-25E engines at 149 million a pop, they could be equipped with paper machete engine bells with an old car engine on top, plus a lot of random piping.

        I think SLS would make a most excellent monument. I’ve long favored installing one in the national mall, right out front of the capitol, as an eternal reminder of what never to do again.

        So far, though, SLS isn’t a total loss. The SLS program has managed to generate one piece of tech that SpaceX and other private companies haven’t been able to match, yet. A twitter hashtag. #JourneytoMars. That’s gotta be worth a few billion, right?

        1. OTOH maybe a bargain basement sale and write off all the sunk cost. Say for $1B sold to the ESA and now they have a really big rocket they can use to put their own people on for like 4 missions or whatever. They are already building the upper stage. No NRE just cost of operations. Could put a really big monument on the moon. Maybe that next gen particle accelerator that will eat up all other Euro science spending. Whatever.

          1. Like much in the world of advertizing, it’s largely a case of framing and word choice.

            For example, SLS’s payload capacity would be massively improved via rating it in US tons rather than metric.

            Also, we should stop underselling its capability regarding lunar missions. It’s oft said that SLS can deliver an Orion only to a high lunar orbit. This is false, because if SLS can do that, it has the inherent capability to deliver an Orion capsule directly to the surface of the moon. (Just use the same trajectory as the Saturn 5 3rd stage from Apollo 13, which landed on the lunar surface just fine.)

            Yup, with the right phrasing, SLS looks a bit better, so maybe ESA will buy it. It’d at least look interesting in a rocket garden.

    2. Perhaps the space force can use it to launch large and heavy space battle stations. It would give the US an advantage in the coming space cold wars.

  2. I tend think if SLS manages to get a successful launch, it will be significantly better as compared to it never getting to launch.
    Whenever SLS launches successful, it becomes “sort like” competition.
    Though I don’t think can be afraid that SLS will have some kind of unfair advantage.

    Also SLS is going to be the world’s biggest government rocket.

  3. This guy’s videos are very well researched and produced. I enjoy them immensely.

    He also provides a perspective that I like, having been born in a (long) post-Apollo era, yet being a space enthusiast.

    I remember Sputnik’s launch. I remember Vanguard’s first launch failure. And I most remember Alan Shepard’s launch on America’s first manned spaceflight, which prompted me to adopt this field as my life’s work. A great many of my successors’ first memory of space flight was the destruction of Challenger.

    What I don’t get is the continued reliance on “space programs.” A “program” has come to be synonymous with a government-defined, controlled, funded, and executed activity. If government would stop doing that, and do the things the Founders set it up to do (defend against foes, foreign and domestic, the property rights of individuals), perhaps some person or group of persons could put together a plan, and the capital needed to execute the plan, of going to the Moon (or elsewhere) to make a profit.

    At age 15, I recognized the need for capitalism to be the mechanism for expanding into space. My first “political” activity was to express this in a rather lengthy letter to Vice President Spiro Agnew. It got me a vanilla reply about the Shuttle and “space tugs”, plus (ultimately) some passes to the close-up viewing site for Apollo 17.

    While I appreciated the latter, it didn’t get us anywhere in space. After trying my hand at commercial space, first at TRW, and then at Kelly Space & Technology, Inc., I concluded that only a Howard Hughes could pull off commercial space transportation – someone with at least a smattering of technical expertise in space flight, plus a personal fortune to back it.

    We now have two and a half of those – Musk, Bezos, and (the half or slightly less) Branson. That’s one and a half fewer than I ever thought would emerge.

    Should the United States still want to open up space to humanity, it should abandon its own “development” programs and contract for specific end results, however they are obtained. Results such as the establishment of an economically positive outpost somewhere, anywhere in space – with or without humans, for any purpose which produces (rather than consumes) wealth, or which provides the means to add to human knowledge on a profitable basis.

    That’s just me, though…

    1. I’m in total agreement that a “space program” is the wrong approach as it suggests a centrally planned activity driven by political, rather than economic, goals. There was never an “aviation program” though there were some “aircraft programs” (e.g. the Imperial Airship Scheme and the Brabazon Committee) that typically ended in failure.

      Having said that, commercial market forces analogous to those that drove aviation development are still sorely lacking for space – telecoms being the nearest – which leaves governments and ultra-wealthy individuals with ‘vision’ as only viable forces to drive things forward. So, unless you can influence the ultra-wealthy, persuading governments to foster commercial space activities by creating ‘surrogate’ markets (e.g. via mechanisms like prizes, anchor tenancy agreements or material/data purchase) seems like the only viable way forward… which is essentially what you already said 🙂

      1. I believe that you neglect to mention that the government did in fact help create market forces for aircraft, i.e. air mail and military aircraft. These provided much of the early impetus behind aircraft development, and helped make the rapid evolution of air flight possible.

        NONE of this should be taken as an endorsement of the state-centric model for development…note that in both of the cases I mentioned the government merely provided specifications and acted as a buyer, they didn’t active participate in the development process itself. I believe that the same thing can happen with space, but before it does we must get away from the ‘space program’ model…

        So, I suppose in the end we agree…

        1. Indeed, government fostered the early aviation industry by providing guaranteed markets and this is well documented (e.g. Tom Heppenheimer’s ‘Turbulent Skies’). They also provided technical support (e.g. NACA) and a regulatory framework to help ensure safety, which built confidence in nascent markets… areas where today’s governments can play a vital role for space.

    2. I’d like to say we should blame Apollo; but Apollo was only possible after a generation of statist mindsets growing like kudzu in the American political mindset.

  4. Back in 2004 I did an article for Spaceflight magazine titled “Off the Shelf and On to Mars.” In it, I proposed reverting to the original 1977 SDV, with a recoverable boat-tail (heat shield, parachutes, and airbags), and carrying an Ariane 5 core modified for air start as an upper stage. It would have supported a two-launch lunar landing mission. Launch 1 would have been a 5-passenger Apollo CSM lightened by modern materials, with a mission module based on the Soyuz orbital module. Launch 2 would have been an LM clone for three crew, braking into LLO and possible early descent (after LOR) with a hypergolic crasher stage. It could have been ready before 2010, and, best of all, could have coexisted with Shuttle, with only minor changes to the GSE (for fueling the Ariane core alongside the ET).

      1. Apparently the archive on the BIS website only goes back to 2010. I may have a pdf I can email you. Or, there’s a slightly different version in a Kindle collection I put up about 10 years ago called “We Are the Hollow Men.” (It has examples of published work from various types of things I wrote, including the article). In that version, instead of the Soyuz Orbital Module, I suggested using a Spacehab can for the mission module.

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