Launcher Option 4: Space Shuttle and Proton
Another alternative is to use a Proton to launch the fuel,
creating the lowest-cost option which includes the
Space Shuttle. It saves $340 M over the two Shuttle baseline plan, with the Proton
costing only $60 M (varies with exchange rates). The Proton is cheap, can carry cryogenic fuels,
has sufficient lift capacity that a third launch is not
needed, and has the wonderful feature of launch-on-demand.
Unfortunately, the Proton's cargo bay is too small for a SPACEHAB module to fit, which is the primary
pressure vessel for the Artemis Project vehicles. This leaves only the
fuel, equipment, and service modules to go in the Proton, and there may be
a problem fitting the Lunar Habitat and Lunar Transfer Vehicle both in a single Shuttle
flight. In addition, there are considerable logistical problems involved in
trucking equipment to Russia, although the pressure vessels can stay in the
US, where they will likely be manufactured. Also, there is the
issue of either launching the Proton from a low-inclination site, or the
reduced payload due to a needed change of orbital inclination.
The Proton has a payload of 53,000 lbs (24,000 kg), and the Space
Shuttle has a payload of 55,000 lbs (25,000
kg), which may be upgraded to 62,000 lbs (28,000 kg). This makes for a
total capacity of 108,000 - 115,000 lbs (49,000 - 52,000 kg). This is also
a tight, but probably adequate, payload limit.
Since the Proton
costs so little, it may make sense to purchase a second launch. It would
greatly enhance the capabilities of the lunar base if there was so much
mass to use for equipment.
| Launcher || Payload || Cost
| Shuttle + Proton || 108,000 lbs (49,000 kg) || $460 M
| Shuttle (upgrade) + Proton || 115,000 lbs (52,000 kg)
|| $460 M
| Shuttle + 2 Protons || 161,000 lbs (73,000 kg) ||
$520 M |
| Shuttle + upgrade + 2 Protons || 168,000 lbs (76,000 kg)
|| $520 M
Although the Proton's small payload envelope and logistical problems are
a handicap, its low price and lack of a need for a third launch make the Proton
a good choice if the Shuttle is to be used.
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