added a research item
- Matjaz Vidmar
- Derek Webber
- Jeremy Turner
NASA's plans for a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), also known as "Deep Space Gateway" (DSD) in cis-lunar orbit have attracted a lot of attention across the industry over the past few years. However, its ever-changing conception from a staging-post for human missions to Mars, to a facilitating architecture for a renewed presence on the lunar surface, and the increasing uncertainty over the project's funding, have perhaps detracted from a far more critical question: is it in the right place? In spite of the Moon-Mars destination dilemma, we should nevertheless note the significant advantage in that the proposed LOP-G is positioned outside Earth's gravity well, and thus a good place for manufacturing spacecraft for ongoing interplanetary missions. However, the proposed location in orbit around the Moon also introduces a series of issues, for instance the long transfer time and (related) astronaut-return safety concerns. Another, more fundamental issue, however, is that the proposals do not take advantage of the traditional and highly successful Earth-centric space businesses (satellite communications and potentially space tourism) as a possible source of funding and logistics support. It would seem therefore that consideration should be given to additional potential locations for a LOP-G-type station, in particular in or near Earth's geostationary orbit (GEO). This would be 100 times farther out in space than the International Space Station (ISS) in the low-Earth orbit (LEO), but would benefit from being near the edge of Earth's gravity well, whilst usefully closer to the surface of the Earth and GEO-located assets. GEO would provide an equally good start point for future Moon landings as the energy requirements for such a mission would not differ much between the two potential locations. By encouraging the development of commercial partners who would find a logistical train between LEO and GEO to be advantageous for their existing businesses, would also help underwrite the capability to the advantage of the proposed governmental operators (and their limited budgets). Such a "Gateway Earth" station could be a far more realistic prospect, as it combines maximum utility with favourable business conditions for a public-private partnership. This solution is also far more in tune with the concerns about the democratisation of access to space, as well as issues surrounding the sustainability of the future space exploration and utilisation architectures, in particular, since it offers benefits in attempting to deal with some of the challenges of space debris. This paper analyses some of the key premises of the LOP-G and the Gateway Earth proposals, and puts forward a new, more holistic, vision of the future space access architecture through space stations beyond LEO.
Gateway Earth Development Group is an initiative proposing new modular space access architecture, centred on operating a combined research space station and commercial space hotel in the geostationary orbit (GEO) – the Gateway Earth complex. At this location, robotic and crewed interplanetary spacecraft could be assembled, and docked before they travel to, and return from, any Solar System destination. Moreover, it is proposed that space tourism would provide a significant part of the funding to build and maintain the complex. In order to do so, various elements of this architecture, which are currently being developed independently by a range of different space firms and agencies, both internationally and in the UK, need to be integrated into a single mission proposal. Hence, it is our aim at GEDG to synthesize all these disparate actors and activities, and focus them on making the Gateway Earth concept possible in the mid-term future. This paper provides a status update on these projects’ progress to date and focuses on the next steps required to ensure this concept becomes an accepted architecture for space access and exploration. The aim is to establish the Gateway Earth approach as a preferred technically-feasible and politically and financially realistic concept and thereby enable a new generation of affordable space exploration missions, backed by revenues generated from commercial space activities.
Gateway Earth Development Group seeks to design a technically and economically viable architecture for interplanetary space exploration. We are proposing to utilise space tourism as an enabler for the development of a space station in Earth’s geostationary orbit (GEO), at which interplanetary spacecraft could be build and serviced to take astronauts on missions across the Solar System. Access to this space gateway will be provided by deploying re-usable vehicles, which will in stages - through Low Earth Orbit (LEO) - deliver goods and people to the station. Gateway Earth itself will be a combined governmental space station and commercial space hotel, located in GEO. At this location it is close to the edge of Earth’s “gravity well”, and so it is a great place for interplanetary spacecraft to dock both as they depart for, and as they return from, distant Solar System destinations. This would apply to both robotic and crewed missions. For the same reason it is a great place to assemble the interplanetary craft, which would then avoid the craft having to withstand the rigors of launch and re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere. Space tourism revenues will provide a significant part of the funding needed to both build the complex and supply the regular reusable tug service. At present, various elements of the concept are being developed independently by different space engineering firms and agencies; some large, and others small and entrepreneurial in nature. Our aim is to synthesize all these disparate activities, and have them focus on making the overall Gateway Earth concept possible. This paper will provide a status update on progress to date and invite feedback on key modules of the projects’ architecture.
Gateway Earth is proposed as modular space access architecture, operating a combined governmental space station and commercial space hotel located in the geostationary orbit [1, 2]. This location, close to the edge of the Earth's "gravity well", is ideal for robotic and crewed interplanetary spacecraft to dock as they depart for, or return from, any Solar System destinations. Additionally, assembling interplanetary craft, almost certainly including in-situ (additive) manufactured components, at this location would avoid these vehicles having to withstand the rigors of launch and re-entry through Earth's atmosphere. Moreover, space tourism revenues will provide a significant part of the funding needed to both build the complex and supply the regular reusable tug service via low-earth orbit . Various elements of the architecture are being developed independently by a whole range of different space engineering firms and national and international agencies; some large, and others small and entrepreneurial in nature. Our aim is to synthesize all these disparate activities, and have them focus on making the overall Gateway Earth concept possible and deliverable in the mid-term future . This paper is providing a status update on Gateway Earth Development Group's progress to date and invites feedback on key modules of the architecture as well as Gateway Earth's overall development and operational strategy.