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Welcome to the Objective Europa forum for general debate and discussions in areas related to a crewed mission to Jovian moon Europa. Suggestions and ideas in the forum will not be filed as part of the research in phase-I.

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Pages: 1
Author Topic: On Orbit Assembly or Direct Launch?

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 9
On Orbit Assembly or Direct Launch?
on: November 9, 2013, 06:31

I think this is a crucial question that will determine what kind of a mission this will be. When designing Human Interplanetary flight one must decide weather to use on Orbit Assembly (conceptually easy, allows for large payload, but complex, expensive and risky) or attempt to devise an architecture that launches all the payload elements including the crew directly to the destination (in this case Europa) with that boosters upper stage.

This (ultimately ideal) approach requires that we somehow minimize and slim down the Payload, Crew, Consumable Requirements, margins and mass anywhere we can. It may (but hopefully not) also require advances in propulsion beyond Chemical, such as Nuclear Thermal Rockets (NTR), Nuclear Electric Propulsion, Fusion, Plasma Drive, Solar Sails, Magsails, Antimatter ect.

Alternatively the size of the launch vehicle could be increase. Current launch vehicles can lift about 20 tonnes to LEO, Falcon Heavy (planned first launch 2014) can lift 53 tonnes to LEO, SLS (planned first launch 2017) can lift 90-135 tonnes to LEO, the Comet HLV (design only) could launch 254 tonnes to LEO, and the Orion (design only) could launch 1,000s of tonnes to LEO with the aid of nuclear bombs.

Alternatively I have proposed the use of stockpiling fuels in Lunar Orbit/Lagrange Points from Asteroids to allow a direct-launched mission to refuel on route to Europa

Europa manufactured Fuel for any earth return (or a one way mission) could also reduce total ship mass.

The Question is this. Is this enough to allow for Direct launch from Earth?, are there other methods for reducing ship mass? if on Orbit Assembly is required how many launches will still be needed?

Examples of A)Large on Orbit Assembled Spacecraft, and B) Small Directly Launched Spacecraft

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