Mission Design - First Flight
Section 4.1.
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Mission Options

Mission options identify different ways to accomplish the flight, rather than different hardware configurations.

Launch: It all starts with launch, with a host of launcher options. Then in LEO, where we have options of using Shuttle, International Space Station, our own staging base (with many options for that), or even just using Apollo-style docking. Each launch package should consider each launcher option; requirements for crew, habitable modules, and propulsive stages are all different.

Trajectory options to the moon are probably more limited since we're planning to use an Apollo-style sprint mission. (Our human crew can't afford the consumables for a six-month voyage along the fuzzy boundary.)

Arrival: Circularize LTV orbit before or after separation?

Descent: Crew in moon base hab or ascent stage?

Site Selection Options: There are lots of options for landing site selection. I want to keep Angus Bay as the baseline landing site, the one we use in stories. The argument in favor of Angus Bay is very strong since it satisfies our mission requirements and consistency is the key to good story-telling. But besides Angus Bay, we ought to consider places like Mare Australe, Clavius, the Lambert Mountains, Mare Smythii, the northern regions of Mare Frigoris, maybe the western extremes of Oceanus Procellarum near Balboa or Vasco de Gama craters, Mare Orientale, and so on. Writers might address these other places in stories about how the lunar community develops and spreads around the globe.

Perhaps we could ask someone to take a tour around the rim of the near side, identifying the major lunar features within 15 degrees of the limb. Then folks could research each feature to find out if has high-Ti deposits, evidence of lava flows (hence tubes), scenic terrain, and any other desirable features.

Of course, stories set farther in the future can consider any spot anywhere on the moon. Tourist facilities will want to emphasize the Earth view, but there's a strong argument for building facilities with views of the ancient landing sites, too.

Surface operations: host of secondary mission objectives. (Primary objective of setting up the permanent exploration base won't change.)

Ascent: trade off accommodating trajectory errors vs. direct rendezvous.

Rendezvous: ascent stage vs LTV as active maneuvering vehicle.

Docking: docking mechanism to capture ascent stage at LTV, or just fly in formation and have crewmember grab a handrail, or crewmember with MMU capability flies to LTV with a rope, RMS grapple (RMS on LTV or ascent stage? manual or automated RMS?).

Earth return: again, trajectory is pretty much straightforward.

Earth arrival: rockets vs. aerocapture (I believe this one is obvious from the cost and weight numbers, but we have a lot of essays and analysis of aerocapture; it'll keep coming up.) Rendezvous with space station vs. Shuttle Orbiter vs. our own assembly fixture.

Return to Earth's Surface: probably dictated by selection of launcher option for crew, but might not be the same method.

Mission Design - First Flight

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