Launching Facility Constraints on the Space Exploration Initiative

by Kadett Chan, Univ of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, United States,
Alex J. Montoya, Univ of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Abstract: The Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) proposes large space programs such as a human mission to Mars and the establishment of a lunar base. These programs will require massive logistical support from Earth, both for in-space assembly/construction and for subsequent mission operations and resupply. The various types of launch vehicles and the collection of launch facilities, recovery areas and refurbishment depots necessary for SEI missions pose major technical and funding challenges. In this paper, we have developed a quantitative tool for envisioning, evaluating and optimizing the ground and launch operations in order to meet SEI objectives. A Simulation of Logistics model (SIMLOG) has been developed to determine which facilities and operations limit the maximum launch rate. This model produced the maximum achievable launch rate for each individual vehicle. The maximum launch rates are then input data for the Launch Vehicle Selection Model (LVSM), a linear integer programming model, which selects the optimal number of each launch vehicle from a number of existing and proposed vehicles in order to minimize the overall multi-year launching cost of the SEI program. The simulation indicated that the SEI Low Earth Orbit (LEO) requirement of 2.1 million pounds can be met with a mixed fleet consisting of current vehicles, a Shuttle C and the proposed Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLLV). Another result, however, was that the human delivery capability was inadequate using the current Shuttle launch rates. Using SIMLOG and LVSM, a first-order estimation of the cost can be made for these augmented facilities which determines which launch facility investments should be made before the SEI missions are undertaken.

Subject Headings: Space exploration | Vehicles | Space colonies | Simulation models | Logistics | Data processing | Mathematical models

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