A fuel depot in space

I recently stumbled across an old note I made, after listening to an episode of Inside Science from the BBC. It’s a fantastic space quote about setting up lunar fuel depots, discussing the prospect of solving the problem whereby you need to take off from Earth with all the fuel to get where you’re going. If you can break that barrier, more remote areas of space become possible.

moon
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

But how do you do that? The episode had an interview with Olivier de Weck, astronautical engineer at MIT who has an idea:

“Reaching low earth orbit is halfway to almost anywhere in the solar system. The way we’ve done exploration is one mission at a time, none of the missions left anything behind for any future mission to use and so, what we’re advocating is a network based approach. Essentially, an interplanetary supply chain.

“The Solar Granger Point Number Two is actually on the far side of the moon. It’s a gravitationally neutral place which is a great place to put a fuel depot, or a refuelling station. The fuel depot itself needs to get refuelled obviously, and this happens through tankers and shuttles that go back and forth between the lunar surface and the fuel depot. And then spacecraft can pick up their fuel and then you go off to wherever you want to go. If you go to Mars, that means you do a trans-Mars injection. You can also go to near-Earth objects, asteroids and so forth. So it’s a very attractive architecture.”

There aren’t really enough words to describe how I love this idea. I hope those off-earth fuel depots also sell maps and have free water/air!

2 thoughts on “A fuel depot in space

  1. Christine,

    This idea of parking fuel in orbit has been around for a while. Water and air are less of a problem than power because those can be constantly recycled. They have been breathing the same air on the ISS for 15 years and drinking the same water for at least 5 years.Most space ships have a sat nav so unless it is difficult to program or you don’t know the post code for the planet you are going to you should not need a map.

    One odd thing is I have never heard that point called a Granger point before. It is usually refered to as a Lagrange point (or very occasionally Lagrangian point). What he calls Solar Granger point 2 is normally just called L2.

    L2 is where the James Webb Space Telescope will be parked. You may know it is the Hubble successor http://lapressegalactique.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/lagrange-points.jpg

    Steven

    On Fri, Aug 12, 2016 at 6:07 PM, mrschristine.com wrote:

    > Christine posted: “I recently stumbled across an old note I made, after > listening to an episode of Inside Science from the BBC. It’s a fantastic > space quote about setting up lunar fuel depots, discussing the prospect of > solving the problem whereby you need to take off from ” >

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