Dal sito http://www.flatoday.com/ una notizia sensazionale!
Una Compagnia texana avrebbe in progetto di far orbitare una stazione di servizio per il gas prendendo gli ingredienti dalla Luna!
Firm on a mission to get funds to seek, develop spacecraft fuels
BY TARIQ MALIK
A Texas company has drawn up plans for a human expedition to the moon to seek the raw ingredients for what amounts to an orbiting gas station.
Under the plan, from Bill Stone of Austin’s Stone Aerospace Inc., a vanguard team of industrialists would explore Shackleton Crater at the moon’s South Pole to determine how much, if any, frozen water and other materials are beneath the lunar surface.
If enough resources are found, they could be processed into spacecraft fuels and hauled to orbit for spacecraft at one-tenth of the cost of launching them from Earth-bound spaceports like Kennedy Space Center, according to the plan.
“Once initial funding is received to initiate the detailed planning effort, we expect to be open for business in low Earth orbit in the 2015 timeframe,” Stone said in a statement.
He estimated the likely cost would be about $15 billion and the effort would require significant international partnerships.
“Only by operating commercially will this enterprise be successful,” he said.
To that end, Stone has formed Shackleton Energy Co.
“This is water exploration first,” Shackleton president Dale Tietz said. “And if it’s there, then our whole business plan is based upon, by 2015, having a very aggressive program to then process that with our own crews . . . bring it to low-Earth orbit and then open for business.”
Among potential customers: NASA, which plans to launch astronauts from KSC aboard its new spacecraft, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, starting in 2015 with lunar missions slated for 2020. Virginia-based Space Adventures also has talked about space tourist flights around the moon aboard a Russian-built Soyuz spacecraft.
NASA’s plans for crewed flights to the moon, coupled with other programs in development by China, Russia, India and a host of space tourism firms, spurred the Shackleton Crater Expedition concept, Tietz said.
“If we have fuel up there at a reasonable price, they will come,” he added.
Etched into the south pole of the moon, Shackleton Crater is 12 miles wide. Its floor is perpetually cast in shadow, though regions of its rim are nearly constantly bathed in sunlight. Scientists have long thought the crater, and others like it, are the most likely hunting ground for buried water ice.
If present, such resources could be separated into liquid oxygen and hydrogen, the raw materials that can serve as modern rocket fuel. Shackleton Crater, in particular, has been one of NASA’s targets for a future moon base.
Stone’s plan calls for a private industrial team to set up camp in inflatable structures on Shackleton’s sunlit rim, burying the habitats beneath the lunar dirt for insulation and radiation protection.
The scenario is based, in part, on a 2003 proposal entitled “The Shackleton Crater Expedition: A Lunar Commerce Mission in the Spirit of Lewis and Clark.” In addition to water, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, the private refueling station could offer gaseous hydrogen and oxygen, nitrogen and methane, Stone officials added.
NASA chief Mike Griffin said in 2005 that a private refueling depot in low-Earth orbit, among other commercial services, could aid the space agency’s goal of returning astronauts to the moon.
“We have a long way to go,” Tietz said. “But we have a plan and we think we can execute it if we have the right kind of relationships and funding.”