Thursday, January 22, 2009
Assembly Line Space Program
A question occurred to me while I was reading an article
about whether to go to Titan or Europa? Why don’t we go to both?
I understand that the answer is simple, money, it cost billions of dollars to send a probe to one of the outer planets, or their moons. But let us think for a moment, of how to bring down costs and do more. Ford did it with the assembly line to produce automobiles, in which created the driving revolution. This approach should be used and ultimately must be used if we as a nation and as a world are to conquer space.
Imagine you want to send a probe to our moon, mars, mars’ moon, Venus, Mercury, a few asteroids, some moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and let’s even send some to the outer planets. Now say that of all those probes you want to send out, they each have ten experiments’ that are basically the same. NASA would only have to do research and development on ten experiments’ that could be used on fifteen or more missions. Now produce that experiment package on an assemble line, and don’t just produce the ones needed immediately, make a few more. If you start producing more; productions costs come down, expertise in manufacturing increases, and people become experts.
Next look at the environment the probe will be operating in and develop a system to operate in that environment. Once it is developed keep using it, and refining it, don’t jump from one exploration vehicle to another just because it looks sexy and new, go with what works and improve it.
There is a universe to explore, we need to get on it and explore. Building a probe for a very narrow and targeted exploration takes a lot of money and a lot of time, and by the time the probe gets there, the scientist are saying “I wish we would have put this experiment on board.” Just create a basic experiment package that can be fit in one of a few different types of delivery/exploration vehicles and send them out. Whiles those probes are out there doing their thing, design the next experiment package (which can utilize the same assembly line as the first experiment package) and send it out there.
More worlds explored, more data gathered, more knowledge, and more expertise.
Since we are destined to be stuck in LEO for the next four years, we may as well start up an assembly line and become expert producers of probes.
Posted by Robert Evans at 2:27 PM