Moon And Back
Top Russian Official Says Negligible Upgrade Needed For Lunar Trip
MOSCOW, Russia –Space tourists can really get the opportunity to fly around the Moon and return to the Earth in the Soyuz spacecraft, Roscosmos Human Spaceflight Directorate Head Alexey Krasnov told news media today.
“It is technically feasible”, Krasnov was quoted as saying by Interfax-AVN as he was commenting on the statement by Space Adventures which revealed the sale of the first ticket for the lunar fly-around.
According to Krasnov, this objective will demand negligible Soyuz upgrading. In addition, several Soyuz-orbital ferry docking operations are to be carried out in orbit in order to ensure the mission of 3 humans to the Moon is successful. The space tugs are required to deliver the spacecraft to the LLO, make a fly-around and return to the Earth.
Human Spaceflight Directorate leader Krasnov went on to say that an additional Soyuz purposed for tourist missions would be built between 2013 and 2014. The vehicle with two tourists onboard will be controlled by one commander. This Soyuz will also undergo extra measures of certification according to the official.
Space Adventures’ chairman Eric Anderson, announced at the Digital/Life/Desgin conference in Munich, Germany ten days ago that his company Space Adventures has sold one of two seats on a circumlunar Soyuz mission. He went on to say that there was one ticket left and the price was $150 million. When Space Adventures announced its circumlunar flight plans in 2005, they said they would sell two seats for $100 million each. The first buyer is someone most people would recognize according to Anderson. People have speculated that it is possibly one of NASA’s Astronauts or perhaps one of Space Adventures previous private astronaut clients.
The Space Adventures team has designed a circumlunar mission using a unique combination of existing and flight tested Russian technology. This mission builds on space technology originally developed for manned lunar missions, and has been flown over decades as part of the world’s most successful human spaceflight program. Anderson has stated that the Soyuz was originally designed as a translunar spacecraft. The company expects a direct launch to the moon within three to five years lasting either 6 or sixteen days depending on whether they stayed over at the ISS for about 10 days. The current schedule has the flight scheduled to take place in 2015.
There are three main logistical issues for the Soyuz in going to the Moon. 1. The reentry from a lunar trajectory is about 1.4 times faster, so 40 percent faster than a reentry from an orbital flight. At this speed, the heat shield on the vehicle has to be stronger. 2. The communications systems has to be more powerful. Between Earth and orbit is a couple hundred miles. Between Earth and the Moon is a couple hundred thousand miles. We do this communication all the time, but the Soyuz would have to be modified. It requires a deep space antenna. 3. Anderson indicated that Space Adventures would like to see a bigger window on the Soyuz itself so the participants could have a unique view of the moon as they go around it. It’s currently an eight to 12-inch porthole, but the company would like to see it twice as big.
You will begin your journey to the far side of the moon by first launching aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. Then, a subsequent launch will occur of an unmanned rocket booster. Your spacecraft will rendezvous with this additional system in low-Earth-orbit. The engagement of the two will provide your spacecraft with the required propellant to travel to the moon. Once the firing of the booster is complete, the two systems will separate and you will continue on your majestic journey.
The Adrenalin web site in Australia goes into greater and somewhat differing detail. According to Adrenalin one flight profile, called Direct Staged, is a nine-day mission with a three-day free flight in low Earth orbit and a five-and-one-half-day lunar flight segment. It uses lunar boosters assembled in low Earth orbit and a lunar free-return flight profile, which includes circumnavigation of the moon. (Note that Space Adventures has stated this is a six-day mission.)
Adrenalin goes on to profile the experience: “Your adventure begins when you travel to Star City, Russia, and the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. As part of an elite group of prospective space travelers, you study the basics of becoming a cosmonaut and train in a Soyuz spacecraft simulator. Space Adventures experienced staff is on-site, ensuring that all your goals for this historic endeavor are met. Pre-launch: Approximately two weeks prior to launch, you and your DSE-Alpha crewmembers travel to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan. At this world-famous complex, final launch preparations commence for your launch to low Earth orbit (LEO).
day 1 launch: When launch day arrives, family and friends cheer as you board a Soyuz booster emblazoned with your company logo and launch to orbit for a historic rendezvous with the moon. During the three-day flight, there is much needed time to relax and adapt to the weightlessness of space.
day 2 zenit launch: Back on Earth, final preparations are made as a second vehicle, called the Zenit, is readied for launch. Its payload is a high-energy upper stage called Block DM—the flight-proven engine that will push your Soyuz spacecraft to the moon. With the Block DM safely parked in low Earth orbit, you and your crewmates head for a rendezvous with the upper stage.
day 3 block dm docking: After the Soyuz has docked and all systems are checked, all loose items are secured and you strap yourself in. With the chatter of mission control in your headset, gravity returns to the Soyuz. The thrust from the Block DM engine fires and you accelerate to 24,000 miles per hour. When the fuel is depleted, the latches holding both spacecraft together release, and the Soyuz backs away from the upper stage. With the boost phase complete, you unstrap and look back at the Earth receding below.
day 6 lunar rendezvous: Two days have passed since the lunar boost. Your outstretched palm completely covers the Earth. Your ship enters lunar gravity as the surface brightens and high-definition cameras record the dramatic view of the sunlit far side. Radio communication with Earth fades as the massive moon blocks the link. Like some distant island in a vast ocean, the Earth appears over the horizon. Suddenly, the silence is broken by familiar voices. With the event still fresh in your mind, you try to convey what you have witnessed to those back home.
day 9 earth re-entry: Your commander makes final checks with mission control as gear is sorted and readied for Earth re-entry. You and your crewmembers don space suits, seal off the orbital module and strap into your seats. The Earth looms large again outside and excitement builds as you anticipate being greeted back on the surface.
Now begins your new life as one of the few space pioneers to have journeyed to the moon. The crew will enjoy a spectacular view of the lunar landscape. It is our objective to conduct the mission when the lunar far side is illuminated. The lunar far side is dramatically different from the lunar near side due to the large amount of craters located on that side. The Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation’s (FSA) goal is to install a large window made of optical quality in the side of the orbital module. The window will help facilitate astronomy and lunar photography during the mission. The size of the window will be approximately 15 inches in diameter and 47.1 inches in circumference. DSE-Alpha mission will take place aboard the modern Soyuz TMA spacecraft. This proven transport vehicle has delivered crews to more than three generations of space stations and supported space expeditions lasting as long as six months. The Soyuz spacecraft and its robotic sister spacecraft, the Progress M, have established a solid performance record in low Earth orbit. However, few people know that the Soyuz was originally designed to support manned lunar missions. The Soyuz can accommodate a crew of two to three and has a habitable volume of 10m3. A comparison (to the volume of a Soyuz) would be to a large SUV. This will be the first manned lunar mission since 19 December 1972. It will be the first ever Russian lunar manned mission using a Soyuz, the first Earth Orbit Rendezvous (EOR) lunar mission, the first manned atmospheric skip of re-entry capsule and the first manned private lunar mission. Who has the sense of exploration and adventure to undertake such a historic mission? Do you want to be the 28th person to circumnavigate/orbit the moon?”
The Adrenalin site adds this information:
fitness and experience
All individuals embarking on a Soyuz spaceflight to the ISS need first to be medically certified for full cosmonaut training by passing Space Adventures’ Orbital Flight Qualification Program
You must be 18 years or older and have the time and commitment to complete the training program and the will to carry out a Spaceflight
Individuals who desire to fly to the Moon need to be certified to begin full cosmonaut training by passing the Space Adventures Orbital Pre-flight Qualification Program to become a cosmonaut candidate
All cosmonaut candidates will train at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City Russia, located just outside of Moscow
Orbital clients will train extensively on Soyuz TMA and ISS spacecraft systems, study flight operations, experience weightlessness in a zero gravity jet and learn how to live and safely function aboard the ISS
what to bring/wear
You will need to arrange your own flights to Moscow, a Visa and travel insurance
what is supplied
Approximately 3 months of training
8-9 day mission depending on type of booster use with upper-stage (5.5 days in Lunar/Earth transit)
2-3 day approach to the Block-DM (upper-stage)
2.7+ days approach to the moon (Rendezvous/docking for the trans-lunar injection burn. Undocks – Block-DM ejected/destroyed in upper atmosphere of Earth)
Observation of illuminated far side of the moon (Approx 10 minutes at 100-200km above the moon’s surface. Approx 35 minutes at 100-1000km above the moon’s surface)
2.7+ days to return to Earth
Atmospheric skip re-entry (Landing zone near Arkalyk, Kazakhstan)
RSC Energia, funded by Space Adventures, completed the engineering studies for the mission and have said there would be modifications needed to the Soyuz, but they would be based on prior flight-tested designs. This is in line with what the Head of the Russian Human Spaceflight Directorate said in his press conference today.