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A Grand Unified AO; A novel decadal survey proposal to explore the ice giants and more

December 21, 2016

A Grand Unified AO; A novel decadal survey proposal

Conduct a single master AO for a build of 4 spacecraft and 5-atmosphere probes with a goal of commonality in spacecraft avionics and bus design and common probe and probe attachment points.Cost engineering is a must as a part of this master AO.Secondary AO’s are done to determine 5 PI’s and teams and 5 PI’s for the probes.Mariner Mark 2 was an early concept along these line of thought.

decadal survey wish list

5 mass-produced outer planet atmosphere probes






There is an opportunity for a Saturn flyby on the way to Uranus for a Saturn/titan probe delivery but perhaps this is also an opportunity for a Saturn orbital mission with a Titan escape to Uranus with the same spacecraft okutsu_cassini_saturn_escape

The grand Unified AO would require proposers to accept language that atmosphere probes be serially produced all with the following decadal survey requirements, Page 9

The mass of the heat shield for all of the serially produced probes is subject to trade and cost engineering study.Does it cost less to produce one heat shield of the same weight with a weight penalty to some destinations?

Hofstadter et al appear to have omitted not only multiple planet orbiters but also Saturn flybys en route to Saturn page 22 to 23 and page 15 ;

“Dual-planet mission of interest
because of its high science
value, but not considered for
next study due to expected
high cost.”

 We acknowledge multiple planet orbital missions will be expensive in operational costs, however, Hofstadter et al do a disservice by dismissing a look at the idea, as already mentioned they did not look at Saturn-Uranus duel orbital missions with 1 spacecraft.

Indeed we have used the OPAG forum to suggest 1 spacecraft could perform a combined Enceladus sample return and LUCY trojan asteroid tour; this calls for an early earth flyby with LUCY aerodynamics after a 4 year Saturn mission.Could this mission carry the Saturn probe as well?

5-atmosphere probes on only 3 to 4 missions might be a mission design problem, however, a creative set of competitive bids on a master AO might solve this.There are options to think about.


Commercial bid to the industry but also to labs a planetary AARM derived stage.Must meet planetary specs (decades in space) there should be a commercial R & D match of 40% in exchange of flights if a win.there should be two winners or more(a fly off)these are delivered to the master AO as government equipment not charged against the mission cap

(A)One ARRM derived SEP stage carries 3-atmosphere probes to Jupiter/Saturn/Uranus

(B)One ARRM derived orbiting spacecraft does the Saturn/Enceladus/LUCY mission using SEP and Titan Saturn escape(spacecraft # 1)

(C) One spacecraft is ARRM derived SEP to Saturn with Titan flyby escape to Uranus, I see an opportunity here, A Titan orbit radar imaging experiment could image Uranus moons(subsurface ?)(spacecraft #2)

(D)Saturn flyby to Neptune with Saturn probe ( spacecraft #3)My blog has proposed the outer planet SEP might have enough power to run its own small payloads happily this idea has been borrowed by Hofstadter et al and My thoughts are a spacecraft with RPG and the SEP stage can work together at the distance of the outer planet in till separation.

Budget questions?

Use the present decadal survey for the start of the NASA HQ idea of building two spacecraft for the ice giants.Do build and budget for flight ready engineering spares for the next vehicles.In some cases pay as you go, place on the shelf these “spares” The grand AO places this process as policy.This a start of the third spacecraft leading into the next decadal…….

The cost of this is for certain the cost of a flagship mission plus several Discovery and /or missions, we would not want to spend the entire decades budget on a Master AO but this idea comes close to that.We would want a social contract that we employ most of the community this way, but competition is expected on the master AO and the subsidiary AO’s.Indeed this idea calls for SBAG and OPAG joint proposals in the case of the Enceladus LUCY tour.


This idea might leave out Lunar polar missions as well as Venus in a competition so it would a nice world where at least one Discovery mission is funded in addition to the proposed master AO plan.

How to choose?

a proposal may submit a decadal complaint idea if it satisfies certain percentages of decadal goals across multiple targets, A combined Enceladus/LUCY tour would satisfy say 40% of LUCY and 90% Enceladus while a LIFE Enceladus in situ probe is 40% and 60% LUCY goals.The SEP stage returning the Enceladus sample and leaving the probe at Saturn might work but this would receive negative marks for unproven tech SKG skills( informally proposed myself and Hafsteder et al for ice giants flybys).

How to plan a Titan flyby escape from Saturn to Jupiter and into a LUCY asteriod and earth sample return flyby




Possibly the SEP stage carries the Enceladus sample return and the trojan tour instruments back to Earth and leaves an orbiter at Saturn, intillSuch a system  involves sharing SEP and RTG until undocking


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