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ULA ACES & ESPA ring outer planet probe 2.0

Takeaways from past ULA ACES ESPA ring outer planets science missions posts

(A) there is no docked spacecraft, the ACES is the science probe.

(B)The NASA launch services contract pays for a portion of the ACES as upper stage and this portion does not come under the AO mission cost caps.

(C) The ACES is a certified launch vehicle that should reflect on TRL of the proposed science mission, a certified lunch vehicle should receive the highest TRL form the AO selection committee for an ACES science probe

(D) The ACES IVF controller and ACES avionics are meant to last for 20 years in deep space and are partnered with the flight computer and data systems for science, This means the system must be able to do station keeping, instrument pointing and small TCM with ballistic moon flybys.This systems science instruments and Xenon station keeping requires RTG so that end of mission does not occur after IVF system exhaustion.The OPAG Ice Giant study report states that deep space avionics and comnav are $300 million per flight and the 13 science instruments are  $400 Million, there is no real way to reduce this cost for reliability

(E) the ESPA rings are about 5.4 meters < to match that of the ACES both aft and forward bulkhead some of the most foreword ESPA rings can be smaller(landers)

(F)The aft ESPA ring has electrical connections to the IVF controller and deploys a solar array that powers a SEP engine, RTG only powers science and avionics & comnav.Keep this solar array for Saturn missions jettison for Uranus Neptune.

(G) The ACES propellent  intertank regions can carry atmosphere probes

(H) ACES that does Venus Earth Earth trajectory to the outer planets benefit from a Methane LH2 gell to lower boil off

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ULA ACES ESPA cost engineering and business model & Terrestrial & Cislunar Exploration Technologys ESOP

The OPAG Ice Giant study group has 13 science instruments and avionics/comnav cost engineered at $700 million this comes out to $54 million per instrument.Our business model would be to divide up this cost in 3 to 4 ways.Dividing up the instruments 4 ways places about 3 instruments in each group of cost engineered funding payment modes.

(A)(1) mode one is the NASA Salmon instrument flight opportunity where 3 instruments fly for 1/4th the total mission costs or about $250 Million.This would be competitively put out through a salmon AO.The question would be wich instruments the NASA customer want to use for this process? All 13 instruments and three are chosen or NASA picks out three instruments for the AO bid process?$250 Million mostly upfront in early phases of the spacecraft build over 5 years before launch.$50 Million per year.This could also be an in-kind Salmon purchased instruments that pay a rideshare fee or $17 Million per year per instrument.

(A)(2) NASA data purchase of $250 Million payable over the life of the Mission of 15 years from three additional instruments, $17 Million per year over 15 years

(A)(3) The International community up for three to four instruments equipment in-kind with a rideshare fee payable to us equivalent to the costs of the launch vehicle and ACES  at 1/4th and operations costs plus a profit.So an in-kind donation of $250 million for science payloads

(A)(4) Some instruments are within reach of private foundations and university indeed some instruments might be cheaper than University funded telescopes.Three smaller instruments like the ice giant study groups proposed Magnatometer could be in-kind equipment with a rideshare fee

Terrestrial & Cislunar Exploration technologies borrow $1.3 Billion that accrues to a Leveraged ESOP.Deductions are made to this sum for in-kind equipment transferred to the project.As many as 6 instruments might be in-kind so between $300 to $400 Million need not be borrowed by the leveraged ESOP.In the case of the 3 instruments that we are selling data with the ESOP company would purchase these along with the ULA ACES spacecraft.What instrument has the most data values? would the customer be willing to pay for that additional value? To us, the most valuable instruments would be the science imaging cameras.The ESOP company would hire our own PI for these, however, we would like to point out that idea from previous posts on this blog that those PI’s would be co-employees with the ESOP and their home institutions.As the ESOP debt is paid down the science investigators and engineers would vest in the success of the ESOP pension plan

Our goal would be to use profits earned after ESOP debt retirement and employee pension payouts to invest in the serial production of more ACES/ESPA spacecraft and those instruments we have purchased, ICE giant spacecraft should be able to share the same 13 instruments at Neptune Uranus and a return to Saturn ditto Jupiter flyby science in route

Last week we wrote about a ULA ACES with ESPA rings both forward and aft of the ACES the aft ESPA ring held connections for an ACES solar array that powers a onboard SEP engine.The Xenon is kept cryogenic to save the weight of the propellant tank mass and is cryocooled by the ACES LH2 After 5 AU the solar array/ESPA ring detaches.In the case of Saturn, we keep this solar array ring so that some RTGs can descend to Titan with an ESPA ring in a floating HIAD on a Titan sea.Hopefully, the very long descent by parachute would allow the HIAD to cool 🙂 The HIAD is our flotation mechanism and the ESPA ring provides the structure to the landed instruments.Perhaps a modest submarine on a tether could be deployed and retrieved

Year 1                        Year 2                 Year 3

$17 Million

$17 Million           in progress………….

$17 Million

$17 Million

In-kind furnished instruments with rideshare fee







ULA ACES deployed ESPA Ring as Titan lander

ULA ACES with three ESPA rings, one aft deploys a solar array two forewords of the ACES dome host Saturn Titan science payload

The foreword most ESPA ring detaches and inflates a HAID for Titan EDL and is designed to float and deploy a small tethered submarine.Possibly the HAID is deployed beforehand with the Cryogenic Xenon tank and is used to circularize the orbit of Titan

Let’s borrow the $700 Million cost engineering figure for 13 instruments at 150 Kg and deep space avionics and com/nav from the Ice Giants study group report and add the Vulcan Aces for an even $1 Billion?

This post is a part of a family of ideas that beat the cost engineering of the Ice Giant study report

Cost engineering and Leveraged ESOP funding


ULA ACES upper stage as planetary probe




ULA ACES as planetary probe

ACES with MOOG ESPA rings with the Ice giant study report 150 Kg science payload to 500 days Neptune orbit insertion(Lower energy) ACES needs deepspace avionics and com/nav and HGA and the RTG’s, Use Triton to lower Apogee  from 500 days to 30 day orbits & collect Triton ROW world ocean data with close flybys


Fly ACES with deep space  JPL quality COM Nav and additional data and computer plus software onboard the ACES stage   $? Million

OPAG Ice Giant study group 150 Kg science payloads are costed at $360 Million, these perhaps could be arrayed around an ESPA ring and the foreword ACES dome.The Ice Giant study report had the spacecraft avionics and com/nav at another $400 Million for an ice giant deep space mission.An assumption might be that ACES with the above payload would cost $760 Million

ICE Giant study report

This deepspace ACES might need a Hypergolic station keeping system along with the science instrument RTG requirements

ACES as a planetary spacecraft is the new model of the old Mariner Mark – II idea of serially produced deepspace spacecraft its also a gamble can ULA participate with the Terrestrial & cislunar exploration technologies company ESOP  in a leveraged funded loan purchase of ULA products? can we sell ride share and or data collected from a deep space planetary mission?


Solar arrays also attached to an ESPA ring and it powers a SEP engine out to 5 AU, keep or jettison? cryogenic Xenon cooled by ACES LO2 expended by the time  5 AU  is reached to bring the most chemical propellant to the Ice Giant ROW Pluto systems.SHERPA is an ESPA with its own engine and station keeping so both Ice Giants could have two spacecraft in orbit


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Can A Europan lander Geophone detect bioacustics produced by life through 30 kilometers of ice?

Can A Europan lander Geophone detect bioacoustics produced by life through 30 kilometers of ice?

far fetched yes? 🙂 biological acoustics through 30 kilometers of European ice is a lot to hope for but how could it be done? There may be water in places closer to the surface.

The Proposed Europa lander suggests the use of a geophone to listen for the geological evidence of an ocean

Whales are well known to produce sound, Does Europa even come close to having the energetics to evolve Metazoans?

Shrimp are Acoustically among the loudest on Earth

Small metazoans are more likely but this requires O2 right?

Panning Et al are hoping to listen to geological sounds at Europa

looking for Ocean sounds at Europa



Taxation of Launch vehicles that Utilize Biofuels; a new paradigm

We propose the study of existing laws and regulations on the federal and state levels and were needed the lobbying of new regulations and laws to ensure that space launch vehicles that utilize biofuels receive tax subsidies and  that the production of rocket propellants from renewable sources receive tax incentives

WE propose that CO2 from the atmosphere converted into methane be treated as a Biofuel for tax purposes and that a launch vehicle is a motor vehicle


Hybrid ULA ACES/SEP stage for a Pluto Orbiter & possible ICE-E-P Next stage

Hybrid ULA ACES/SEP stage for a Pluto Orbiter

Hypothetical conops; (1)Utilizing the ULA proposed distributed launch we have a fully fueled ACES on orbit(2)ACES has a cryogenic tank of 3 metric tons of Xenon cooled by the LH2/LO2 propellants for a SEP system.The ACES/SEP hybrid carries an Imaging system for Pluto and is Docked to the Pluto orbiter with its RTG power systems.After orbit insertion, the stack undocks and the ACES stage continues on as long as propellants last with its science payload and the RTG orbiter continues on its Pluto mission.


ULA ACES ICE internal combustion engine as power source for a ACES/SEP hybrid stage  for outer planet missions

This idea might be the most innovative we might have come up with and involves its own set of complex trades.

We think the LH2/LO2 boil-off could power the ICE engine for electrical power that powers the SEP engine and this might reduce the mass of the SEP solar array or eliminate it.The spacecraft RTG still supplements this power source through the docking mechanism and use of boil-off might ironically reduce mass to orbit insertion

LH2/LO2 ACES with a 2 metric ton LXE2 tank

With ICE GH2/GO2 engine to power SEP engines

spacecraft, RTG power supplements SEP powered engines by hibernating power

SEP stage might be a ICE-P stage without solar arrays, this might be possible with distributed launch with a full propellant load on the hybrid ACES/ICE-P stage at planetary transfer from LEO or cislunar.The trades here like above would be enough Xenon & LH2/LO2 to power the NEXT engines and to not have to much mass to orbit insertion.

The goal is to place in ice giant orbit insertion both the ICE-P and spacecraft into science orbits with 150 Kg each and descope from that point.

The secondary goal is to do this at both Uranus and Neptune and to serially produce the ICE-P and ACE/SEP hybrid stage for Mars MRO follow on as well as other missions and it’s this that has a commercial procurement possibility.It’s important for the next decadal study to identify other goals that could be met by serially produced by ACES ICE-P as spacecraft main bus & payload.

Gear ratios for ACES ICE-E-P Cryogenic chemical & Noble 

Model the required GH2/GO2 to power ion engines with the ICE engine for the electrical source.Model this without the mass of solar arrays at outer planets.Model with a reduced mass solar array.Model a cislunar ACES/SEP tug with solar arrays that is a stage for the ACES ICE-E-P that stages past Saturn and the stage returns to cislunar space.








Martian equatorial underground ice sheets as a Nuclear fission powered warmed reservoir & Pumped storage unit

Martian equatorial underground ice sheets as a Nuclear fission powered warmed reservoir & Pumped storage unit

Hypothesis; Mars possesses vast subterranean frozen ice sheets that could be melted with coolant from fission power plants & funneled through a Penstock and Dam both built underground and under the ice and dust cap.These ice sheets are near the equator and would have easier access to and from orbit.

The fission reactor could both utilize the water as coolant and pump the water uphill during the night to flow back down the Penstock during the day for hydroelectricity.Due to the ice sheet there possibly might not be a dam but a Penstock shaft instead leading downhill to a generator.

Water pressure from under the ice sheet at bedrock should be high as it feeds to the Penstock and downhill hydroelectric generator

Penstock base and settlements; a boring project

The existence of a settlement here is the Boring machine that starts uphill targeted at the base of the bedrock and subterranean ice sheet.A small bore is dug first as a science project to look for life and to ascertain the geology of the area for the larger hydroelectric bore.

An Antartica test bed demonstration glacial hydro-electric scheme for science base utilization

This could be a national science foundation(NSF)  NASA partnership with NOAA and a private partnership investment that sells power back to the government supported Antarctic research station.This could be another boring project 🙂

The Equatorial Ice Sheet  Boring leveraged ESOP & Power company

The leveraged ESOP borrows on the capital markets and funds the cost of passengers & cargo flights to Mars to build the Mars ice sheet hydroelectric company station. A major byproduct is water and propellants.Propellents to Mars Fuel depots.Water to other Mars settlements.NASA could be the anchor tenant, purchaser of science from the smaller test bore to test for life under the ice sheet & subsequent purchaser of water & propellant


A recent article on Mars daily describes locations of buried ice in the mid-latitudes of mars

Mars water-ice locations

Fission power reactors produce waste heat this can be used to melt subsurface Paeloglacers to flow through a bored penstock for water and hydroelectric power generation to a downslope colony. here is a video of the small fission reactor,



Mason_2-1-17 Mason FISO presentation on the NASA small fission reactor






Tom Mueller interview (Kilopower)


A legislative cartel regime to regulate flows of Asteroid/Lunar derived materials to economic markets

A legislative cartel regime to regulate flows of Asteroid/Lunar derived materials to economic markets

De Beers caches Diamonds to keep them from release to the market place so legislative rules and a regulated cartel could allow for holding back rare earth and metals from market prices to stabilize prices.We would also want to explore lowering prices over time after the space based infrastructure has been amortized to allow for more users to be made available for rare metals at lower prices.

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