NASA Team Produces NAUTILUS-X, A Fascinating Spacecraft
HOUSTON, Texas — The blogosphere has been abuzz recently with analysis and commentary on a new spacecraft, the NAUTILUS-X.
Recently Mark Holderman and Edward Henderson, both of Johnson Space Center, Houston, held a teleconference with NASA’s Future in Space Operations (FISO) working group. One purpose was to pitch a new spacecraft, the Non– Atmospheric Universal Transport Intended for Lengthy United States — X-ploration, Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV).
The Nautilus-X MMSEV is intended as a reusable in-space vehicle for cis-lunar and deep space missions. It would large enough to afford generous space for a crew of six and would hold enough supplies to sustain a two-year mission. The Nautilus-X is seen as one of several “key technologies that can advance Space Exploration” and “can be done soon” and “are affordable”, according to the presentation. The 34 slides from Holderman’s presentation are very fascinating and are presented here — click to start 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
Dick Stafford of the blog Rocket Dungeon summarizes, “The design is adaptable to multiple missions from 1 month through 2 years. It would carry a crew of six. It would be modular to allow mission-specific propulsion units, capsule/descent/return vehicles and service modules (including inflatables). It would include a ring centrifuge to provide partial gravity for crew health (based on a Hughes spin-stabilized comsat). It would be assembled in orbit so the ‘bus’ won’t need to worry about re-entry. It would utilize the ISS (yay!) for proof of concept testing and operational deployment.”
Robot Guy in his blog says, “The Nautilus-X MMSEV is the closest NASA has come to a design for an honest-to-goodness spaceship in decades. In an email published on Robot Guy’s blog, Holderman says, “A great deal of “detail” information is not contained in the presentation. This was by design; it was crafted to be an oral presentation with much of the technical content addressed by the speaker, who directly answers audience questions and can therefore better engage the particular interest(s) of various groups.” He goes on to say that what is being viewed here is the Concept “Sales” package – the idea of the presentation is to paint a picture that folks might want to find out more about.”
Clark Lindsey at Hobby Space found the presentation quite impressive in several ways:
— It illustrates how the use of Bigelow style expandable modules provides for great flexibility in design and in the means of delivery.
— It takes direct advantage of the tremendous experience in assembling structures in space that NASA has gained in the past decade. NASA knows how to do this.
— It would work very well with fuel depots.
— The contrast is striking – Constellation would have had small, single-use, expensive systems in operation perhaps by 2030. MMSEV would be a honest-to-goodness space cruiser in operation by 2020.
— The first pass at the design cost and schedule finds it cheaper than the Orion capsule alone.
While Jonathan Goff at Selenianboondocks says, “I think it is visionary, and has many elements in the right direction.”, while maintaining that “my overall impression was that while interesting, this will never happen. At least not with the NASA we have today, and not on the budget they’re claiming”.