WI: Lunar Water discovered during Apollo?

Caveat: Technically, this is historical. We really did find water in lunar rocks during Apollo. But it was so trace that it was assumed to be contamination.

Let us assume that a manned mission to the moon lands in one of the places that we currently know to have large quantities of water in some form. To the best of my knowledge, none of the cancelled missions were to anywhere that we have presently confirmed to have appreciable amounts water - nor were any of the launched missions. So, obviously, we need to change things up a bit.

Regardless, without launching too many more Apollo missions (maybe 1-2 more than historixally), one does discover water in useful quantities on the moon.

How does his change space flight?
 
I thought the problem was that any useful water quantities are in very hard to get to places? Would Apollo risk such landing sites?
 
At the time, there was a big drive for more space travel. If water were found on the moon, it could lead to a moon base being taken more seriously. It could even lead to the ISS being little more than a motorway service station for shuttles.
 
I thought the problem was that any useful water quantities are in very hard to get to places? Would Apollo risk such landing sites?
Probably not. But lets say they do. Maybe its mainly thought of as a publicity thing - perhaps they want to push the boundaries and Apollo 13 never had its accident.
 
We can say that they actually put a powered drill rig on one flight and get deep enough to ensure the ‘water’ content isn’t contamination. Given that the ‘cold-trap’ concept comes pretty swiftly but…

Has about zero (0) effect on Apollo itself as it’s a done deal even before Apollo 11 landed. Where it does come into effect is during the Space Colony ‘craze’ of the late 70s since instead of ‘having’ to go to the asteroids for volatiles we have a higher chance of finding them on the Moon which we are (according to the theory at the time) mining for materials to build the Space Colonies.

In essence you have managed to torpedo, (probably not sink but they need to put into port for major repairs) Zubrin and the “Mars Underground” as their PRIMARY argument has always been that the Moon is a ‘distraction” because it has no inherent resources, specifically volatiles like water.

I suggest a deep-read of these sites:
http://www.moonsociety.org/mmm
http://www.moonsociety.org/mmm#classics
(Specifically some of the ‘theme’ issues)

With keeping in mind that these folks were tending to ‘downplay’ the need to import volatiles because everyone believed there was no water on the Moon, and how much ‘better’ a case they can make if it’s know there IS available water!

Now this actually helps some of the later ‘return-to-the-Moon’ planning since we have a basis that Cis-Lunar Space is actually a lot more ‘valuable’ than it was considered in OTL until very recently. Does it help get something like FLO, LUNOX, ELA, etc get more traction? Maybe but in the end it’s going to be politics not technology that make the decision and as we already are well aware the Moon having water has in fact had little effect on political and public support for such concepts.

Where is MAY have an effect though is, as I noted above, that it undercuts Zubrin and the “Mars Mafia” on dismissing the Moon as a possible destination over going ‘directly’ to Mars. Take Elon Musk for example. His ‘initial’ concept was to stimulate public interest in space by putting a ‘greenhouse’ on Mars using the local CO2 to help ‘grow’ a garden and showing this all ‘live’ on the internet. He got ‘side-tracked’ because he couldn’t find a ‘ride’ for the needed payload mass on the then current “launch” market. But that’s going all the way to Mars which he doesn’t have to necessarily do in TTL since water is known to exist in the Lunar soil. He could launch a similar ‘greenhouse’ to the Moon with the available launch vehicles which would be closer and publically seem more ‘near-term’ (after all, Humans have BEEN to the Moon) and then still feel the ‘key’ is cheaper access. Without the more general and entrenched, (and frankly false) ‘common-knowledge’ that the Moon is a barren wasteland and that only Mars has the ‘possibility’ of available water the whole “direct” concept loses a lot of steam and it is less likely that Musk, (and many others) don’t get so fixated on Mars that they will actively oppose the idea of going back to the Moon as a first step.

With KNOWN water on the Lunar surface since we already know we can make abundant LOX from the soil we can now posit production of hydrogen and unlike “Mars Direct” we have no real need to bring ANY ‘seed’ materials to produce rocket propellant. Just hardware.

Mars loses a lot of it’s current ‘luster’ and the Moon becomes a much better initial ‘target’ for exploitation and colonization efforts. Will it really matter? Probably not as I’ve said by the time Apollo 11 lands most public and political support for general human space exploration has taken a significant down-turn and available resources on the Moon really doesn’t help. But it does increase the possible support that in OTL fractured into factions during the late 70s and early 80s.

It may very well decrease the tendency of later ‘planning’ to over emphasize Mars which IMO was the main reason why most of the “Space Initiatives” crashed and burned because they focused too much on Mars and not enough on the development and expansion of a supporting infrastructure that included Cis-Lunar Space. With clearly available resources on the Moon it no longer becomes so ‘clear’ that the only way to reach Mars is to have an “Apollo” like timetable to ensure the well-known, (and assumed) public/political support window can be abused, sorry, used to reach a limited goal before it collapses.

Apollo showed that the US could set itself a goal, achieve it with great effort and expenditure and then walk away once the ‘job’ was done. Trying to ‘repeat’ that mistake, sorry, achievement has been pushed as the “holy grail” of space exploration ever since with little or no effort to actually understand how it was done, why it failed and why it should not be repeated.

Therefore because in OTL “Mars” has ‘obviously’ been the only place where we might use local resources to help reduce the cost to reach it, (never mind that quite the opposite was pointed out in the mid-to-late-50s and early-60s and that the Moon is a worthwhile resource itself) thereby making the cost of doing so ‘only’ be double or so that of the Apollo program and thereby (somehow) getting a different outcome than Apollo by essentially repeating Apollo. And it isn’t questioned. (Well it is, but the ‘mafia’ then jumps on and drowns out any such questions because they support the holy cause and heretics must be burned)

I believe that early knowledge of the possible Lunar resources, especially water, will inevitably reduce the chances that the resurgent Space Advocacy movement of the 70s/80s will splinter and a more united, (not fully because you still have the pro/anti-NASA factions but they aren’t as bad as the “Mars” factions, Anti-Moon, etc factions we have OTL) Space Advocacy has a better chance of gaining and actually influencing public/political support. As it is as long as the ‘politicians’ occasionally say something “positive” about space, (literally things like US Citizens on a Lunar Colony COULD vote in a Presidential election, or a “Space Force” is a good idea, absolutely NOTHING substantive) then the “Space Advocates” will spend a couple of weeks ‘praising’ the ‘obvious’ support and then go back to tearing each other’s guts out over which is better, horizontal or vertical landing on Mars. (What about the Moon? Die heretic! Now return to your regularly scheduled Space Advocacy WWF match…)

Now from the above you may think it possible I’m a wee-bit ‘bitter’ over Space Advocacy in OTL, and you’d be right. I was a teen when “The Colonization of Space” was first published in Physics Today in 1974 and the books and articles that followed. I joined the L5 Society (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L5_Society) very early on and was very proud we helped defeat ratification of the 1979 “Moon Treaty” and was disappointed when we ‘merged’ with the National Space Institute and it became the National Space Society. This was because the NSI which was founded by Warner Von Braun and people directly tied to NASA whereas the L5 Society was very much based on the idea we’d go with NASA if they were going our way but we would not DEPEND on them. The NSS has always been a NASA booster and more concerned with seeking political support and funding for NASA rather than focused on Space Colonization or exploitation. Personally I was never ‘anti-NASA’ and was rather angry with those who were, (Hello Dr. Pournelle, “If it weren’t for NASA…” unless they are paying for MY X-Program that is) since NASA in fact was not the ‘issue’ but politics and public support. But once “we” became the NSS then NASA and only NASA could get us where we wanted to go which never made a lick of sense since NASA, quite obviously, was only going to ever go where the politicians let it and they had no interest, (and still don’t) in actually doing anything if they can help it.


So I wandered for a bit as the pro/anti-NASA factions played at ‘advocacy’ while engaging in a war of words over whose ‘fault’ it was we weren’t mining asteroids by the late-80s. Then I read an article in 1990 where someone named Robert Zubrin and David Baker proposed that despite the ‘failure’ of the Space Exploration Initiative, (and how can you ‘succeed’ when the President who proposes it doesn’t even support it?) we could go DIRECTLY to Mars for ‘cheaper’ than the 90-day study suggested if we only did something ‘smart’ and used local resources to help reduce the costs. Well I was taken by the idea. Bring some ‘seed’ hydrogen to Mars and use it and the atmosphere to make Methane and LOX propellant to get back to Earth. Brilliant! Why did no one else think of this? (Actually the ‘idea’ was initially suggested at an “Using Interplanetary Resources for Space Exploration” conference in 1962 but Zubrin claims no one else every thought of it) We could go to Mars and we could do it in around a decade and we could do it all for a little bit more than Apollo. But…

The first thing that bothered me was Zubrin’s claims that building ‘infrastructure’ and support capacity, (most of the cost of SEI and what we’d spend 15 or so years doing BEFORE we went to Mars) were distractions and wastes as that’s “not how we did Apollo” after all. Sure enough going back over the article, (and later book chapter) he DOES mention going to the Moon using the same architecture… As long as you are willing to drag everything you need with you and use nothing on the Moon because it’s a “wasteland” without resources. In other words it’s “MARS” Direct and there’s nothing on the Moon, (or in Earth orbit, Cis-Lunar Space, or Mars orbit) ‘worth’ stopping to even look at. We go ‘directly’ from the surface of Earth to the surface of Mars and back to the surface of Earth. And as noted we do it in about the same timeframe, (because political and public support is so fickle) at about twice the cost of Apollo AND we will somehow, (it’s never made clear why doing the ‘same’ thing and Zubrin makes no bones about MD being the ‘same’ as Apollo even though it isn’t at all will turn out differently) we will continue to go to Mars and it will soon become colonized and settled all because we made out return propellant on Mars instead of dragging it with us as all “previous” plans did.

The other thing that bothered me was that while eventually Mars Direct did get some ‘tweaks’ here and there, initially at least Zubrin and the Mars Mafia, (which is basically what the Mars Underground became the second they got some legitimacy) stomped on anyone who dared question or suggest changes to “the plan” as it stood. And as I watched the initial solidarity of the Space Advocacy community splintered as suggestions were rejected and those who made the suggestions split off into things like Mars-Oz, (the aforementioned ‘split’ over vertical versus horizontal landing) alternatives that didn’t require a “new” heavy lift launch vehicle, ones that used existing medium launch vehicles, ones that went to the Moon first, (Die heretic!) ones that went to the Moons of Mars first and so on…

Eventually there was enough support (and questions that wouldn’t be quashed) to force an update which became “Mars Semi-Direct” and eventually became part of the “NASA Reference Mission” so ‘victory’ right? Well no because by this point the ‘splits’ are permanent and the idea that NASA is the only means to make this work, (which is STILL the ‘official’ position of the Mars Society even if Zubrin is ‘willing’ to consider the Falcon-Heavy as a launch vehicle) is still contentious so that there is no effective focus for Space Advocacy. Add in Musk’s Mars plans, (which are essentially a privately funded Mars Direct with all the flaws intact and even more marginal really*) and even MORE splits have appeared as people side with one private venture or another over everyone else.

Early knowledge of water on the Moon could very well prevent all that :)

*= Don’t get me wrong Musk and SpaceX have done wonders to shake up the aerospace community and give hope that private commercial launch can and will drive down the basic price of access. The problem is that being focused on “Mars” and therefore “Commercial Mars Direct” in the form of the Interplanetary Transport Ship and BFR he/they are specifically declaring that there is nothing worth ‘doing’ in Cis-Lunar Space and therefore the ONLY plausible plan is to take off directly from the surface of the Earth, fly to the surface of Mars, and then return to the surface of the Earth. Period.

But wait they ‘re-fuel’ in orbit right? Why yes, by launching multiple ‘tanker’ versions of the ITS…

And he calls and considers that ‘infrastructure’ to support the ITS… (He also dances around the ‘fact’ that technically the Tanker ITS can perform Single Stage To Orbit missions with a ‘small’ cargo of several tons of payload, for the obvious reason that people would fixate on the possibility of SSTO… Oh snap never mind they already did)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX_Mars_transportation_infrastructure

No it’s NOT ‘infrastructure’ at all because if you THINK about it for a few seconds it should be very clear that if you had ‘infrastructure’ then the ITS would be launched into orbit to rendezvous with a FUEL DEPOT in orbit where it would re-fuel and then launch for Mars, etc. But if he puts up a Fuel Depot then it has to be supplied and probably maintained which would require multiple flights into LEO AND support/maintenance of the depot. While you could do this with the BFR/ITS tankers NOT having the depot ‘should’ cost less. But with the planned method ONE (1) tanker accident, (especially if they don’t have multiple launch pads which may not be the case early on) ends the mission. The ITS and passengers have to return to Earth. This before we get into the historical fact that monopolies tend to NOT decrease costs and there’s no way that this is NOT a monopoly since the plan is fully based on using ONLY SpaceX assets. (Could they use “New Armstrong/Glenn”? Yes but doing so would make no economic sense since the more flights the ITS/BFR makes the ‘cheaper’ it is and supporting the ‘competition’ isn’t sound business policy)

Want to go to the Moon? Launch a ‘Gateway’ station to L2? Put a space station or fuel depot in orbit? Fine but that’s not what ITS/BFR is for and not what Musk in interested in so IF they can ‘fit-it-in’ (and you can pay. Cash, upfront in small unmarked bills please) then they might book a flight. But the MAIN point is there is absolutely nothing ‘worth’ doing in Cis-Lunar Space and both BFR and ITS are ‘focused’ on Mars and beyond. (He has since ‘backed off” from this even going so far as to suggest a ‘smaller’ BFR for Earth orbital missions… Which makes sense since in order to PAY for any future plans SpaceX actually has to continue to service the only ACTUAL market which is Cis-Lunar Space satellite delivery. I happen to think by 2019 plans will come around to reduce the BFR/ITS even more because it will be clear that “infrastructure” IS actually important but I don’t expect Musk, or the hardcore fans, to every come out admit this point :) )

In the end I suspect most of the ‘heavy lift’ concepts will be downsized because to put it simply if mildly there’s no real ‘need’ for them unless you are planning on doing something like “Mars Direct” and that’s a far too limited plan to be operationally viable.

And water-on-the-Moon in general and the ability to build and utilize a supporting infrastructure in Cis-Lunar Space specifically means the only justification for heavy lift and “Mars Direct” like operations is so someone now in their middle ages or a bit older can possibly see a “man on Mars” in their lifetime which while understandable is vastly selfish and short sighted.

We have played the ‘short’ game already and historically it has failed us every time its suggested. We reject the ‘long’ game because it does not appeal to our need for quick gratification but historically it is the ONLY way to win. Time to mature-up and decide if we’re going to actually get serious about this ‘game’ of space exploration or just keep dabbling till the “extinction level event” sets up the next species for being ‘top dog’ on Earth…

Randy
 
We can say that they actually put a powered drill rig on one flight and get deep enough to ensure the ‘water’ content isn’t contamination. Given that the ‘cold-trap’ concept comes pretty swiftly but…

Has about zero (0) effect on Apollo itself as it’s a done deal even before Apollo 11 landed. Where it does come into effect is during the Space Colony ‘craze’ of the late 70s since instead of ‘having’ to go to the asteroids for volatiles we have a higher chance of finding them on the Moon which we are (according to the theory at the time) mining for materials to build the Space Colonies.

In essence you have managed to torpedo, (probably not sink but they need to put into port for major repairs) Zubrin and the “Mars Underground” as their PRIMARY argument has always been that the Moon is a ‘distraction” because it has no inherent resources, specifically volatiles like water.

I suggest a deep-read of these sites:
http://www.moonsociety.org/mmm
http://www.moonsociety.org/mmm#classics
(Specifically some of the ‘theme’ issues)

With keeping in mind that these folks were tending to ‘downplay’ the need to import volatiles because everyone believed there was no water on the Moon, and how much ‘better’ a case they can make if it’s know there IS available water!

Now this actually helps some of the later ‘return-to-the-Moon’ planning since we have a basis that Cis-Lunar Space is actually a lot more ‘valuable’ than it was considered in OTL until very recently. Does it help get something like FLO, LUNOX, ELA, etc get more traction? Maybe but in the end it’s going to be politics not technology that make the decision and as we already are well aware the Moon having water has in fact had little effect on political and public support for such concepts.

Where is MAY have an effect though is, as I noted above, that it undercuts Zubrin and the “Mars Mafia” on dismissing the Moon as a possible destination over going ‘directly’ to Mars. Take Elon Musk for example. His ‘initial’ concept was to stimulate public interest in space by putting a ‘greenhouse’ on Mars using the local CO2 to help ‘grow’ a garden and showing this all ‘live’ on the internet. He got ‘side-tracked’ because he couldn’t find a ‘ride’ for the needed payload mass on the then current “launch” market. But that’s going all the way to Mars which he doesn’t have to necessarily do in TTL since water is known to exist in the Lunar soil. He could launch a similar ‘greenhouse’ to the Moon with the available launch vehicles which would be closer and publically seem more ‘near-term’ (after all, Humans have BEEN to the Moon) and then still feel the ‘key’ is cheaper access. Without the more general and entrenched, (and frankly false) ‘common-knowledge’ that the Moon is a barren wasteland and that only Mars has the ‘possibility’ of available water the whole “direct” concept loses a lot of steam and it is less likely that Musk, (and many others) don’t get so fixated on Mars that they will actively oppose the idea of going back to the Moon as a first step.

With KNOWN water on the Lunar surface since we already know we can make abundant LOX from the soil we can now posit production of hydrogen and unlike “Mars Direct” we have no real need to bring ANY ‘seed’ materials to produce rocket propellant. Just hardware.

Mars loses a lot of it’s current ‘luster’ and the Moon becomes a much better initial ‘target’ for exploitation and colonization efforts. Will it really matter? Probably not as I’ve said by the time Apollo 11 lands most public and political support for general human space exploration has taken a significant down-turn and available resources on the Moon really doesn’t help. But it does increase the possible support that in OTL fractured into factions during the late 70s and early 80s.

It may very well decrease the tendency of later ‘planning’ to over emphasize Mars which IMO was the main reason why most of the “Space Initiatives” crashed and burned because they focused too much on Mars and not enough on the development and expansion of a supporting infrastructure that included Cis-Lunar Space. With clearly available resources on the Moon it no longer becomes so ‘clear’ that the only way to reach Mars is to have an “Apollo” like timetable to ensure the well-known, (and assumed) public/political support window can be abused, sorry, used to reach a limited goal before it collapses.

Apollo showed that the US could set itself a goal, achieve it with great effort and expenditure and then walk away once the ‘job’ was done. Trying to ‘repeat’ that mistake, sorry, achievement has been pushed as the “holy grail” of space exploration ever since with little or no effort to actually understand how it was done, why it failed and why it should not be repeated.

Therefore because in OTL “Mars” has ‘obviously’ been the only place where we might use local resources to help reduce the cost to reach it, (never mind that quite the opposite was pointed out in the mid-to-late-50s and early-60s and that the Moon is a worthwhile resource itself) thereby making the cost of doing so ‘only’ be double or so that of the Apollo program and thereby (somehow) getting a different outcome than Apollo by essentially repeating Apollo. And it isn’t questioned. (Well it is, but the ‘mafia’ then jumps on and drowns out any such questions because they support the holy cause and heretics must be burned)

I believe that early knowledge of the possible Lunar resources, especially water, will inevitably reduce the chances that the resurgent Space Advocacy movement of the 70s/80s will splinter and a more united, (not fully because you still have the pro/anti-NASA factions but they aren’t as bad as the “Mars” factions, Anti-Moon, etc factions we have OTL) Space Advocacy has a better chance of gaining and actually influencing public/political support. As it is as long as the ‘politicians’ occasionally say something “positive” about space, (literally things like US Citizens on a Lunar Colony COULD vote in a Presidential election, or a “Space Force” is a good idea, absolutely NOTHING substantive) then the “Space Advocates” will spend a couple of weeks ‘praising’ the ‘obvious’ support and then go back to tearing each other’s guts out over which is better, horizontal or vertical landing on Mars. (What about the Moon? Die heretic! Now return to your regularly scheduled Space Advocacy WWF match…)

Now from the above you may think it possible I’m a wee-bit ‘bitter’ over Space Advocacy in OTL, and you’d be right. I was a teen when “The Colonization of Space” was first published in Physics Today in 1974 and the books and articles that followed. I joined the L5 Society (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L5_Society) very early on and was very proud we helped defeat ratification of the 1979 “Moon Treaty” and was disappointed when we ‘merged’ with the National Space Institute and it became the National Space Society. This was because the NSI which was founded by Warner Von Braun and people directly tied to NASA whereas the L5 Society was very much based on the idea we’d go with NASA if they were going our way but we would not DEPEND on them. The NSS has always been a NASA booster and more concerned with seeking political support and funding for NASA rather than focused on Space Colonization or exploitation. Personally I was never ‘anti-NASA’ and was rather angry with those who were, (Hello Dr. Pournelle, “If it weren’t for NASA…” unless they are paying for MY X-Program that is) since NASA in fact was not the ‘issue’ but politics and public support. But once “we” became the NSS then NASA and only NASA could get us where we wanted to go which never made a lick of sense since NASA, quite obviously, was only going to ever go where the politicians let it and they had no interest, (and still don’t) in actually doing anything if they can help it.


So I wandered for a bit as the pro/anti-NASA factions played at ‘advocacy’ while engaging in a war of words over whose ‘fault’ it was we weren’t mining asteroids by the late-80s. Then I read an article in 1990 where someone named Robert Zubrin and David Baker proposed that despite the ‘failure’ of the Space Exploration Initiative, (and how can you ‘succeed’ when the President who proposes it doesn’t even support it?) we could go DIRECTLY to Mars for ‘cheaper’ than the 90-day study suggested if we only did something ‘smart’ and used local resources to help reduce the costs. Well I was taken by the idea. Bring some ‘seed’ hydrogen to Mars and use it and the atmosphere to make Methane and LOX propellant to get back to Earth. Brilliant! Why did no one else think of this? (Actually the ‘idea’ was initially suggested at an “Using Interplanetary Resources for Space Exploration” conference in 1962 but Zubrin claims no one else every thought of it) We could go to Mars and we could do it in around a decade and we could do it all for a little bit more than Apollo. But…

The first thing that bothered me was Zubrin’s claims that building ‘infrastructure’ and support capacity, (most of the cost of SEI and what we’d spend 15 or so years doing BEFORE we went to Mars) were distractions and wastes as that’s “not how we did Apollo” after all. Sure enough going back over the article, (and later book chapter) he DOES mention going to the Moon using the same architecture… As long as you are willing to drag everything you need with you and use nothing on the Moon because it’s a “wasteland” without resources. In other words it’s “MARS” Direct and there’s nothing on the Moon, (or in Earth orbit, Cis-Lunar Space, or Mars orbit) ‘worth’ stopping to even look at. We go ‘directly’ from the surface of Earth to the surface of Mars and back to the surface of Earth. And as noted we do it in about the same timeframe, (because political and public support is so fickle) at about twice the cost of Apollo AND we will somehow, (it’s never made clear why doing the ‘same’ thing and Zubrin makes no bones about MD being the ‘same’ as Apollo even though it isn’t at all will turn out differently) we will continue to go to Mars and it will soon become colonized and settled all because we made out return propellant on Mars instead of dragging it with us as all “previous” plans did.

The other thing that bothered me was that while eventually Mars Direct did get some ‘tweaks’ here and there, initially at least Zubrin and the Mars Mafia, (which is basically what the Mars Underground became the second they got some legitimacy) stomped on anyone who dared question or suggest changes to “the plan” as it stood. And as I watched the initial solidarity of the Space Advocacy community splintered as suggestions were rejected and those who made the suggestions split off into things like Mars-Oz, (the aforementioned ‘split’ over vertical versus horizontal landing) alternatives that didn’t require a “new” heavy lift launch vehicle, ones that used existing medium launch vehicles, ones that went to the Moon first, (Die heretic!) ones that went to the Moons of Mars first and so on…

Eventually there was enough support (and questions that wouldn’t be quashed) to force an update which became “Mars Semi-Direct” and eventually became part of the “NASA Reference Mission” so ‘victory’ right? Well no because by this point the ‘splits’ are permanent and the idea that NASA is the only means to make this work, (which is STILL the ‘official’ position of the Mars Society even if Zubrin is ‘willing’ to consider the Falcon-Heavy as a launch vehicle) is still contentious so that there is no effective focus for Space Advocacy. Add in Musk’s Mars plans, (which are essentially a privately funded Mars Direct with all the flaws intact and even more marginal really*) and even MORE splits have appeared as people side with one private venture or another over everyone else.

Early knowledge of water on the Moon could very well prevent all that :)

*= Don’t get me wrong Musk and SpaceX have done wonders to shake up the aerospace community and give hope that private commercial launch can and will drive down the basic price of access. The problem is that being focused on “Mars” and therefore “Commercial Mars Direct” in the form of the Interplanetary Transport Ship and BFR he/they are specifically declaring that there is nothing worth ‘doing’ in Cis-Lunar Space and therefore the ONLY plausible plan is to take off directly from the surface of the Earth, fly to the surface of Mars, and then return to the surface of the Earth. Period.

But wait they ‘re-fuel’ in orbit right? Why yes, by launching multiple ‘tanker’ versions of the ITS…

And he calls and considers that ‘infrastructure’ to support the ITS… (He also dances around the ‘fact’ that technically the Tanker ITS can perform Single Stage To Orbit missions with a ‘small’ cargo of several tons of payload, for the obvious reason that people would fixate on the possibility of SSTO… Oh snap never mind they already did)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX_Mars_transportation_infrastructure

No it’s NOT ‘infrastructure’ at all because if you THINK about it for a few seconds it should be very clear that if you had ‘infrastructure’ then the ITS would be launched into orbit to rendezvous with a FUEL DEPOT in orbit where it would re-fuel and then launch for Mars, etc. But if he puts up a Fuel Depot then it has to be supplied and probably maintained which would require multiple flights into LEO AND support/maintenance of the depot. While you could do this with the BFR/ITS tankers NOT having the depot ‘should’ cost less. But with the planned method ONE (1) tanker accident, (especially if they don’t have multiple launch pads which may not be the case early on) ends the mission. The ITS and passengers have to return to Earth. This before we get into the historical fact that monopolies tend to NOT decrease costs and there’s no way that this is NOT a monopoly since the plan is fully based on using ONLY SpaceX assets. (Could they use “New Armstrong/Glenn”? Yes but doing so would make no economic sense since the more flights the ITS/BFR makes the ‘cheaper’ it is and supporting the ‘competition’ isn’t sound business policy)

Want to go to the Moon? Launch a ‘Gateway’ station to L2? Put a space station or fuel depot in orbit? Fine but that’s not what ITS/BFR is for and not what Musk in interested in so IF they can ‘fit-it-in’ (and you can pay. Cash, upfront in small unmarked bills please) then they might book a flight. But the MAIN point is there is absolutely nothing ‘worth’ doing in Cis-Lunar Space and both BFR and ITS are ‘focused’ on Mars and beyond. (He has since ‘backed off” from this even going so far as to suggest a ‘smaller’ BFR for Earth orbital missions… Which makes sense since in order to PAY for any future plans SpaceX actually has to continue to service the only ACTUAL market which is Cis-Lunar Space satellite delivery. I happen to think by 2019 plans will come around to reduce the BFR/ITS even more because it will be clear that “infrastructure” IS actually important but I don’t expect Musk, or the hardcore fans, to every come out admit this point :) )

In the end I suspect most of the ‘heavy lift’ concepts will be downsized because to put it simply if mildly there’s no real ‘need’ for them unless you are planning on doing something like “Mars Direct” and that’s a far too limited plan to be operationally viable.

And water-on-the-Moon in general and the ability to build and utilize a supporting infrastructure in Cis-Lunar Space specifically means the only justification for heavy lift and “Mars Direct” like operations is so someone now in their middle ages or a bit older can possibly see a “man on Mars” in their lifetime which while understandable is vastly selfish and short sighted.

We have played the ‘short’ game already and historically it has failed us every time its suggested. We reject the ‘long’ game because it does not appeal to our need for quick gratification but historically it is the ONLY way to win. Time to mature-up and decide if we’re going to actually get serious about this ‘game’ of space exploration or just keep dabbling till the “extinction level event” sets up the next species for being ‘top dog’ on Earth…

Randy
Damn if you wrote a story on this I would love to read it.
 
Damn if you wrote a story on this I would love to read it.
What do you mean? I just did didn't I? ;)

Seriously I've now started gathering notes on this concept so that means I've now got about an even dozen "timelines" worth of notes on stuff I'm not going to write about so...

Really I've yet to find anywhere in the early Apollo planning where they considered a powered drill rig and frankly they should have because it's rather obvious. Then again they didn't actually fly a 'real' scientist till the last mission and THAT was a 'last minute' thing so there's that to "work" with. When you compare 'original' Apollo, (mainly Earth orbital with some possible Lunar applications) to the "panic" Apollo Lunar program it's rather obvious that everyone was more concerned with simply 'getting there' in the latter whereas the former was concerned with getting comprehensive results. The ugly truth is the former had no budget and the latter no 'time' for such distractions.

So anyone have a good idea which mission 'might' get a 'real' core sample drill assigned?

Randy
 
What do you mean? I just did didn't I? ;)

Seriously I've now started gathering notes on this concept so that means I've now got about an even dozen "timelines" worth of notes on stuff I'm not going to write about so...

Really I've yet to find anywhere in the early Apollo planning where they considered a powered drill rig and frankly they should have because it's rather obvious. Then again they didn't actually fly a 'real' scientist till the last mission and THAT was a 'last minute' thing so there's that to "work" with. When you compare 'original' Apollo, (mainly Earth orbital with some possible Lunar applications) to the "panic" Apollo Lunar program it's rather obvious that everyone was more concerned with simply 'getting there' in the latter whereas the former was concerned with getting comprehensive results. The ugly truth is the former had no budget and the latter no 'time' for such distractions.

So anyone have a good idea which mission 'might' get a 'real' core sample drill assigned?

Randy
What's the weight issue one of the reasons they didn't even consider a drill?
 
What do you mean? I just did didn't I? ;)

Seriously I've now started gathering notes on this concept so that means I've now got about an even dozen "timelines" worth of notes on stuff I'm not going to write about so...

Really I've yet to find anywhere in the early Apollo planning where they considered a powered drill rig and frankly they should have because it's rather obvious. Then again they didn't actually fly a 'real' scientist till the last mission and THAT was a 'last minute' thing so there's that to "work" with. When you compare 'original' Apollo, (mainly Earth orbital with some possible Lunar applications) to the "panic" Apollo Lunar program it's rather obvious that everyone was more concerned with simply 'getting there' in the latter whereas the former was concerned with getting comprehensive results. The ugly truth is the former had no budget and the latter no 'time' for such distractions.

So anyone have a good idea which mission 'might' get a 'real' core sample drill assigned?

Randy
I have to ask... whats with all the ‘quotes?’
 
I have to ask... whats with all the ‘quotes?’
It's a "secret" code ;) Seriously I have an issue in that I write like I talk and '_' for example is a way of emphasizing or getting attention to a certain word in a different context. It is I admit an annoying habit I keep falling back into... or it'a s secret code, take your pick :)

Randy
 
What's the weight issue one of the reasons they didn't even consider a drill?
I suspect it's less an issue of mass than one of utility. A 'hand' powered core sampler was probably easier to pack but turned out to be difficult to use in a pressure suit. Start trying to attach a motor and you have to deal with operation in a vacuum and dust environment AND using it in a pressure suit. Short of having something that you can deploy from the LEM or the rover getting anything but scooped or geology hammered samples was just going to be a pain.

Having said that I just ran across this:
https://ascelibrary.org/doi/full/10.1061/(ASCE)AS.1943-5525.0000212
(And who doesn't get the "LunarVader" reference because if it's NOT a "Top Secret" reference it damn sure should be :) )

According to the abstract a powered drill WAS used on Apollo 15, 16, and 17. And there it is; Lunar Surface Drill (http://www.ninfinger.org/karld/My Space Museum/alsep01b.htm) part of the ALSEP package.

15 had some issues (https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a15/a15.alsepdep.html) but the rig looks (https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a15/ap15-KSC-71PC-468.jpg) basic if a bit awkward to use.
[Scott - "The drill was a chore, even on the best of days, because of all the mechanical interactions."]


https://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/lunar/lsc/drillcore.pdf

Ok the drills were less core samples than experimental holes for the Heat Transfer Experiments:
https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/HamishALSEP.html

Here's a 'problem' area, we had a specific experiment to quantify the Lunar surface to an approximate depth of 2km and this:
Surface Electrical Properties Experiment (SEP, Exp. S-204) on Apollo 17 characterized the regolith as "extremely dry" which correlated with the rock samples taken.

Ok finding water during Apollo is looking very weak:
https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1205/1205.5597.pdf

In essence there were no 'hydrated' silica's found which, (as noted above) meant the 'default' opinion is that any water found had to be contamination. (Open PLSS exhaust likely) Now oddly the report notes that "instruments left on the Moon" to study and monitor the Lunar atmosphere, (it has what's considered a 'substantial one' for a vacuum world :) ) showed large amounts of large amounts of argon but less than 1% of the overall mass was 'water vapor. A point here is that in several other reports on the subject it's noted that there was hydrogen in equal amounts and while the solar wind probably accounts for most of this the evidence of 'some' water vapor AND large amounts of hydrogen coupled with oxygen in the Lunar soil should have been noted. The thing was they were specifically looking for liquid or water ice and didn't find either.

Ok here:
Arguments developed that lunar rocks contained essentially no water at all; the water content of the Moon could be limited to a level that was in the range of parts per billion or even less. There were exceptions; in fact many samples contained water at the level of 250 to 500 parts per 7 million (by weight). The H2O in samples was identical to “Pasadena water vapor” in a way noted by the Caltech authors of one analysis: the ratios of the different types, or isotopes, of oxygen and hydrogen were the same as on Earth. On Earth, the nuclei of most hydrogen atoms consist of just a proton, but 0.015% of hydrogen nuclei have a neutron attached to this proton (hence are deuterium: 2 H), and 0.2% of oxygen has an extra two neutrons (18O, versus the usual isotope 16O). On the Moon, oxygen isotopes are essentially in the same ratio as on Earth, so the argument becomes one mainly of deuterium. (Remember: 45% of the lunar soil is composed of oxygen.) The deuterium ratio in the solar wind striking the Moon is not well known, but much smaller than on Earth. Many lunar samples have a tiny deuterium fraction, so their hydrogen is assumed to derive from solar wind. If they show a high hydrogen abundance, they also tend to have a larger deuterium fraction, close to the terrestrial value, which is interpreted as contamination. Even minerals that seem to evidence aqueous processing e.g., rust, show the same isotope ratios, so were suspected to result from terrestrial water.
It looked so much like Terrestrial water they assumed it was in fact terrestrial water contamination. Page 10 discuses the "Rusty Rock" which you might guess showed signs of rust and therefor hydration but it was classified as a impact rock and therefore 'hydrated' by the impact. But further study 30 years later showed MOST highland rocks had higher than average hydration. which might be of off-lunar origin but meant it was there even if it was not 'native' to the Moon. So more highland rock samples is looking to be a possible POD.

Another is the SIDE experiments, (Suprathermal Ion Detector Experiment) which were left behind on 12, 14, and 15 in that they all recorded large 'blasts' of ion arriving across the surface. OTL some were in different phases during the event, (measuring intensity rather than Ion mass or vice versa) where as had they all been in the same mode, (mass detection) they could have IDed hydrolox ions a the cause. (It was argued later that the hyrdolox at the site of Apollo 14 SIDE which was set to mass and IDed the ions was due to latent exhaust from the launch of the LEM Anteres but had the Apollo 12 SIDE detectors been set to mass instead of intensity being 183km away from the Apollo 14 site would have ruled out that argument and water vapor would have been the obvious answer)

Add to all this the Luna 24 mission of August 1976 returned an (as far as can be determined) uncontaminated subsurface sample obtain by a drill probe two (2) meters deep from the Mare Crisium region. When chemically examine back in Moscow it was found to be 0.1% water by mass or a level at least 10 times that of any other Lunar sample. (And the observed 'trend' indicated that the water percentage went up as the sample went deeper) Arguably this went against the accepted "Dry Moon" model prevalent OTL and the authorities in Moscow agreed that further sampling would be required but it's a very telling development IF OTL's "Dry Moon" model isn't as accepted or 'supported' TTL.

OTL that was pretty much it till Clementine in 1994.

The POD and butterflies seem to line up so that by the late 1970s if everyone take a deep enough look it begins to look like the Moon

So check me here:
Apollo 13 actually reaches the Fra Maro highlands and brings back samples
Apollo 14 was originally to visit Censorinus crater or Littrow crater both near Mare's so no help there unless we can convince NASA they need to visit Mare Crisium?
Apollo 15 still goes to Hadley Ridge (Rima) and the Apennine mountain range, still gets more highland samples
Apollo 16 goes to the Plain of Descartes though to be honest somehow going to Tycho as originally planned is desirable. (Well from our POV I suppose :) )
Apollo 17 still parks at Taurus-Littrow I suppose

One question is without the Apollo 13 accident does NASA manage to retain any other Apollo missions? Apollo 18 was originally going to Schroter's Valley, 19 to Hyginus Rille and 20 to Copernicus but it's important to keep in mind that HAD Apollo extended through Apollo 19 would be that what people remembered was the failure and death of that crew due to the largest solar flare in history during their flight. If that doesn't precipitate the end of Apollo TTL I'd be surprised.

Randy
 
Isn't all the water in or under shadowed polar craters? That makes it very hard for Apollo to reach - they didn't stray far from the lunar equator - Apollo 15 was as far as they got and even that was considered risky. Harrison Schmidt IIRC proposed some riskier mission profiles e.g. a Farside landing but even he didn't suggest the poles AFAIK. I recently looked into the delta-V needed to get into lunar polar orbit from LEO and IIRC it isn't much higher (less than 10%) than lunar equatorial orbit, but could they have managed the extra delta-V?
 
The presence of usable/easy to extract water on the moon found by Apollo makes the establishment of a permanent moon presence much, much easier. You don't have to haul water to the moon, which needs to be done with every mission because no matter what recycling is not 100% efficient. You have an easy source of O2, and also local water means having a "garden" much easier providing CO2/O2 exchange, food, and also good for morale and even fish tanks for water scrubbing and food. larger lab animals are easier to support, and rabbits are good for experiments and food as well. You can now make "moon concrete" to expand your habitat. Of course, using water to make more fuel is always there, but this does deplete your water whereas the other uses tend to keep it around.

This degree of self-sustainability would probably spawn private/commercial moon colonization - close, much easier to get to, and now high weight/bulk items like water, food, etc can be made locally saving space for things that have to be imported. IMHO the big issue will be the lack of gravity on the moon compared even to Mars, Luna being about 1/6G and Mars being a bit over 1/3G. We have somewhat of a handle now on the effects of zero-G over a period of time, but at what amount of gravity do these effects stop being problems. It is one thing for a small group of astronauts to have extensive schedule exercise periods to counteract zero-G, but once you get beyond a small scientific crew at an outpost, this is not realistic. Any "colony" of any size needs to be such that the G level does not require a lot of effort (if any) to avoid issues. Of course longer term there is the pregnancy/childbirth/child development quandry.
 
What's the weight issue one of the reasons they didn't even consider a drill?
Eh?

The Apollo Lunar Surface Drill (ALSD) was deployed on Apollo 15, 16, and 17. It consisted of a cordless, battery-operated motor with specialized drill bits and modular core stems. The system was designed to extract soil column samples and to create holes for emplacement of two heat flow probes into the lunar surface. Each core stem segment was a rigid but hollow tube measuring about 40 cm. (16 in.) in length. Joined together and driven into the surface, they enabled astronauts to drill as deep as 10 ft into the lunar soil.
 
looks like no weight problem and was there speculation that there was water before the first mission that way they bring with them on the first mission? or is it not feasible
 
I was replying to the post by RanulfC which I interpreted to mean based on his research they never planned on a a drill for the Apollo project. I2 later saw where are there was a drill and read the posts regarding it but I didn't really see a need to go back and edit my post
 
If water was found - there would be some chaos among the scientists talking about a moon base for a while and several theory papers on how the water was there. Then the Vietnam War would kill any further exploration the money for NASA would be diverted to win a lost war (as it did in our time - there were plans for future exploration post Apollo 15, but Vietnam killed it).
 
The presence of usable/easy to extract water on the moon found by Apollo makes the establishment of a permanent moon presence much, much easier. You don't have to haul water to the moon, which needs to be done with every mission because no matter what recycling is not 100% efficient. You have an easy source of O2, and also local water means having a "garden" much easier providing CO2/O2 exchange, food, and also good for morale and even fish tanks for water scrubbing and food. larger lab animals are easier to support, and rabbits are good for experiments and food as well. You can now make "moon concrete" to expand your habitat. Of course, using water to make more fuel is always there, but this does deplete your water whereas the other uses tend to keep it around.

This degree of self-sustainability would probably spawn private/commercial moon colonization - close, much easier to get to, and now high weight/bulk items like water, food, etc can be made locally saving space for things that have to be imported. IMHO the big issue will be the lack of gravity on the moon compared even to Mars, Luna being about 1/6G and Mars being a bit over 1/3G. We have somewhat of a handle now on the effects of zero-G over a period of time, but at what amount of gravity do these effects stop being problems. It is one thing for a small group of astronauts to have extensive schedule exercise periods to counteract zero-G, but once you get beyond a small scientific crew at an outpost, this is not realistic. Any "colony" of any size needs to be such that the G level does not require a lot of effort (if any) to avoid issues. Of course longer term there is the pregnancy/childbirth/child development quandry.
I don't know if you could have private lunar tourism (let alone colonisation) without tourism/colonies in Low Earth Orbit first. But it would certainly help the case for a permanent moon base, manned Antarctica style, and we'd be doing plenty of experiments to see what the long-term effects of low gravity are (which is pretty vital if you colonise the Moon or Mars). Plus the cost of going to the Moon might have come down enough by the 21st century that flying to the Moon isn't much pricier than flying to space is OTL, so some rich multi-millionaires would have been able to buy a ticket there.
 
I think it could happen if Vietnam war never enter the stage of American ground troops because before that moment we were winning to my knowledge because the south Vietnam soldiers were winning with our equipment support that was until the presence of regular ground soldiers so if that didn’t happen and water was discovered we could see a golden age of space travel
 
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