Moon-based Advanced Reusable Transportation Architecture

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Title: Moon-based Advanced Reusable Transportation Architecture
Author: Nelson, Douglas K. ; Marcus, Leland R. ; Bechtel, Ryan S. ; Cormier, Timothy A. ; Weglian, John E. ; Alexander, R.
Abstract: Abstract: The Moon-based Advanced Reusable Transportation Architecture (MARTA) Project conducted an in-depth investigation of possible Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to lunar surface transportation systems capable of sending both astronauts and large masses of cargo to the Moon and back. The goal of this project was to create a profitable venture with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 25%. The architecture was quickly narrowed down to a traditional chemical rocket using a liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. However, three additional technologies identified as potentially cost saving were: aerobraking, in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), and a mass driver on the lunar surface. The vehicle was modeled using the Simulated Probabilistic Parametric Lunar Architecture Tool (SPPLAT) that incorporated several different engineering disciplines. This tool used ISRU propellant cost, a dry weight reduction due to improved materials technology, and vehicle engine specific impulse as inputs and provides vehicle dry weight, total propellant used per trip, and price to charge the customer in order to guarantee an IRR of 25% as outputs. Estimation error, market growth, and launch cost uncertainty were also considered. The results of the project show that the desired operation is possible using current technology. Based on the stipulation that the venture be profitable, the price to charge the customer was highly dependent on ISRU propellant cost and relatively insensitive to the other inputs. With the best estimate of ISRU cost set at $1000/kg, the resulting price to charge the customer was $2600/kg of payload from LEO to the lunar surface. If ISRU cost can be reduced to $160/kg, the price to the customer is reduced to just $800/kg of payload. Additionally, the mass driver only proved to be cost effective at an ISRU propellant cost greater than $250/kg, although it reduced total propellant used by 35%.
Description: 37th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference And Exhibit Salt Lake City, UT, July 8-11, 2001.
Type: Paper
Date: 2001-07
Relation: SSDL ; AIAA 2001-3524
Publisher: Georgia Institute of Technology
Subject: Spacecraft design
Design tools
Propulsion system performance
Systems simulation

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