To The Moon with .... the Space Shuttle ?!

Michel Van

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
13 August 2007
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sounds insane, more like cheap "SF" TV Movies of Germans Networks

but like History shows, some one proposed that To NASA !

Cislunar Application of the Space Shuttle Orbiter
Project V1086, J. E. Blahnik; undated (post-July 1971)
attachment to memorandum from Director, Science and Applications,
to Manager, Space Shuttle Program, NASA Johnson Space Center, December 14, 1971.

Idea: refuel the Orbiter in space launch it to Moon Orbit, in cargobay a Lunar lander.

-Orbiter launch in 100-mile Earth polar orbit.
-10 to 12 shuttle flights refuel the orbiter with 444,000 pounds of propellant
(don't ask me about boil off by Fuel )
-last shuttle flights brings the lunar lander and 3-person lunar crew
Total weight is up to 1.6 million pounds at departure from Earth orbit.
-TLI of Orbiter with 72-hour coast to the moon.
-LOI into Lunar polar orbit
-the manned Lunar Lander is deployed from Cargo bay and lands on Moon
the 3 person make a 3-to-4-week exploration in same Time the Orbiter crew scan the lunar surface
-Lander ascent stage returns to orbiter (with 500 pounds of lunar samples. this stage is returned to Earth and reused.)
-EOI of Orbiter to leave Moon
-Halfway the orbiter makes a braking burn to reduce atmosphere entry velocity
-Orbiter makes aerobraking maneuver in Earth's atmosphere to further reduce entry velocity
-then from a 100-mile Earth orbit a save return.


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Yep, the idea resurfaced from time to time. It must be noted that the "shuttle" used in the mid-1971 memo wasn't the "shuttle" as we know it: first and foremost, it had internal tanks. Another study using the real shuttle plus space station Freedom plus Shuttle-C was done in 1991. The shuttle would have carried in orbit the empty external tank (the ASRMs were deemed necessary for this) , docked to space station and wait there a (series of) Shuttle-Cs. The tank would have been refuelled, and the combined Shuttle-ET would start the lunar run. On arrival, the combined vehicle would have propulsively braken and enter a low lunar orbit, deploy cargo (whatever it was), and then burn again to return to Earth. On arrival, another burn to enter orbit (no possibility for direct entry, temperature too high), jettison, at last, the ET and re-enter normally. It sounded feasible but: a low-altitude circular lunar orbit (Apollo style) would have permit a payload of only 3.2 metric tons; a different, highly elliptical, lunar orbit would have permitted a payload much higher, but the maximum payload could not exceed the maximum permissible one of 17 metric tons (not accounting for restrains, bays, etc) for Shuttle; the refuel of the ET would have required at least 11 (eleven) Shuttle-C missions... To put it short: feasible, but there are much more efficient ways to do the same, not accounting for risks and unknowns (refuelling of cryogenics in orbit, for example). If interested, entire report here: , it was done during the Scape Exploration Initiative effort.
Previously, in 1969, Bellcomm did a couple of brief studies on the possibility of using the Shuttle to supplement the proposed Nuclear Shuttle for Lunar Logistics. Bellcom studied first the use of one-stage and a half concepts (early Phase A), and then the fully reusable concept (some late Phase A) using the MFC baseline as exploratory configuration. The result were discouraging in both cases: the idea was in theory feasible but, assuming a 50.000 lbs payload, the number of Shuttle flight necessary to carry in orbit the vehicle and refuel it were: 31 for the stage and one half concept and 29 for the fully reusable one. By comparison, using the Shuttle to launch the nuclear shuttle and the payload destined to the Moon required only seven shuttle's fligths.
the preferred Shuttle for "Cislunar Application of the Space Shuttle Orbiter"
was The McDonnell Douglas Model-176 developments



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