Encyclopedia Astronautica

Credit: © Mark Wade
Credit: NASA
American manned spacecraft. Study 2012. SAIC's notional CEV was a Soyuz-shaped aeroshell, enclosing a common pressurized module, and accommodating a crew of four.

SAIC developed a baseline lunar exploration scenario of assembly of modules in low-earth orbit that were launched by EELV-derived launch vehicles made up of three, five, or seven EELV booster modules according to payload requirements. The assembled spacecraft would join up in lunar orbit, with the CEV remaining in lunar orbit while the lunar lander took the crew to the surface base and back. In its CEV study SAIC went through a rigorous series of iterations to identify economies throughout a lunar base infrastructure through use of common subsystems and modules. In the final iteration, the CEV itself was a notional design, a Soyuz-shaped four-crew re-entry vehicle using the common pressure vessel with a mass of 10.4 metric tons. The CEV's Service Module would have a dry mass of 3.5 metric tons and use an RL10 Lox/LH2 engine. This would be used only for the trans-earth injection maneuver back from lunar orbit.

The final SAIC mission sequence was spread over 18 years and would require 76 launches of EELV-derived vehicles using 334 EELV common-core stages. A common pressure module design would be used in the cargo module, the two-module lunar surface habitat, and lunar module, and the CEV crew capsule. Liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen and RL10 engines would be used in all propulsion units (SAIC considered storable propellants and liquid oxygen/methane, but rejected the less-efficient propellants for driving up total mission mass requirements). The mission sequence was as follows:

  • Mission 1 2008 Robotic Lunar Orbiter (RLO)
  • Mission 2 2008 Uncrewed Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) to ISS
  • Mission 3 2009 Uncrewed CEV test at Lunar Reentry Velocities
  • Mission 4 2010 Robotic Lunar Sample Return Mission
  • Mission 5 2014 Crewed CEV to ISS
  • Mission 6 2015 CEV Prototype Lunar Flyby and Earth Return
  • Mission 7 2016 Crewed Checkout of LM in Low Earth Orbit
  • Mission 8 2016 LM checkout in Low Lunar Orbit, including LM/LL descent/ascent
  • Mission 9 2017 Full-Scale Habitat landed on Lunar Surface
  • Mission 10 2018 Crewed CEV to Low Lunar Orbit and Return
  • Mission 11 2019 Extended Duration (7-day) Stay on the Lunar Surface - Open Rover
  • Mission 12 2020 Crewed Lunar Visit, Extended Duration (12-day) Stay, Delivery of Experimental Nuclear Surface Power (NSP), 2nd Open Rover
  • Mission 13 2021 Second Full-Scale Habitat to Lunar Surface
  • Mission 14 2021 Crewed Lunar Visit, Long Duration (30-day) Stay, Third Open Rover
  • Mission 15 2022 Crewed Lunar Visit, Long Duration (30-day) Stay - pressurized rover
  • Mission 16 2023 Crewed Lunar Visit, Long Duration Stay (60-day); Third Full-Scale Mission Habitat to Lunar Surface
  • Mission 17 2024 Infrastructure, Fourth Full-Scale Habitat, Upgraded Nuclear Surface Power, Second Pressurized Rover, Potential for Second location or off ramp
  • Mission 18 2025 Crewed Lunar Visit, Long Duration (90-day) Stay, Cargo Module
  • Mission 19 2026 Crewed Lunar Visit, Long Duration (120-day) Stay, Cargo Module

    SAIC, at NASA's urging, considered an alternative scenario with use of Shuttle-derived heavy-lift vehicles, which reduced the number of launches required from 76 to 63, but nearly double the cost and would, SAIC said, "undermine the American commercial launch market".

    Crew Size: 4.

    Gross mass: 20,600 kg (45,400 lb).
    Unfuelled mass: 13,900 kg (30,600 lb).
    Height: 15.00 m (49.00 ft).
    Diameter: 4.40 m (14.40 ft).

    More... - Chronology...

    Associated Countries
    Associated Engines
    • RL-10 Pratt and Whitney lox/lh2 rocket engine. 66.7 kN. Isp=410s. Early version as proposed for Nova A, Nova B, Saturn B-1, Saturn C-2, Saturn C-3, Saturn I. First flight 1961. More...

    See also
    • CEV NASA's manned spacecraft for the 21st Century, a throwback to the Apollo capsule, a shuttle replacement with an uncertain future. More...
    • Lunar Bases The Lunar Base never seemed to be a high priority to space visionaries, who were mainly interested in getting on to Mars. It was usually seen as a proving ground for Mars vehicle technology, or as a place to mine propellant for use in a larger space infrastructure. More...

    Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
    • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
    • SAIC American manufacturer of spacecraft. Science Applications International Corporation, USA. More...

    Associated Propellants
    • Lox/LH2 Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. Liquid hydrogen was identified by all the leading rocket visionaries as the theoretically ideal rocket fuel. It had big drawbacks, however - it was highly cryogenic, and it had a very low density, making for large tanks. The United States mastered hydrogen technology for the highly classified Lockheed CL-400 Suntan reconnaissance aircraft in the mid-1950's. The technology was transferred to the Centaur rocket stage program, and by the mid-1960's the United States was flying the Centaur and Saturn upper stages using the fuel. It was adopted for the core of the space shuttle, and Centaur stages still fly today. More...

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