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High Leverage Space Transportation System Technologies for Human Exploration Missions to the Moon and BeyondThe feasibility of returning humans to the Moon by 2004, the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, is examined assuming the use of existing launch vehicles (the Space Shuttle and Titan 4B), a near term, advanced technology space transportation system, and extraterrestrial propellant--specifically 'lunar-derived' liquid oxygen or LUNOX. The lunar transportation system (LTS) elements consist of an expendable, nuclear thermal rocket (NTR)-powered translunar injection (TLI) stage and a combination lunar lander/Earth return vehicle (LERV) using cryogenic liquid oxygen and hydrogen (LOX/LH2) chemical propulsion. The 'wet' LERV, carrying a crew of 2, is configured to fit within the Shuttle orbiter cargo bay and requires only modest assembly in low Earth orbit. After Earth orbit rendezvous and docking of the LERV with the Titan 4B-launched NTR TLI stage, the initial mass in low Earth orbit (IMLEO) is approx. 40 t. To maximize mission performance at minimum mass, the LERV carries no return LOX but uses approx. 7 t of LUNOX to 'reoxidize' itself for a 'direct return' flight to Earth followed by an 'Apollo-style' capsule recovery. Without LUNOX, mission capability is constrained and the total LTS mass approaches the combined Shuttle-Titan 4B IMLEO limit of approx. 45 t even with enhanced NTR and chemical engine performance. Key technologies are discussed, lunar mission scenarios described, and LTS vehicle designs and characteristics are presented. Mission versatility provided by using a small 'all LH2' NTR engine or a 'LOX-augmented' derivative, either individually or in clusters, for outer planet robotic orbiter, small Mars cargo, lunar 'commuter', and human Mars exploration class missions is also briefly discussed.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Borowski, Stanley K. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Dudzinski, Leonard A. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 1996
Subject Category
Space Transportation
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:107295
AIAA Report 96-2810
Meeting Information
Joint Propulsion Conference(Lake Buena Vista, FL)
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 242-10-01
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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