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Guest: Dr. Peter Hague; Topics, Dr. Hague's work and paper, "A Metric of Solar System Development", the economic evaluation of space missions and rockets via the metric analysis proposed by our guest plus related topics.
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We welcomed Dr. Peter Hague of the UK to the program to discuss his work with metrics and his paper, "A Metric of Solar System Development." Our guest spent most of the program explaining his work, citing examples, and answering listener questions about potential, present and historical space mission. I strongly recommend that you download and read this paper at www.researchgate.net/publication/332798544_A_Metric_of_Solar_System_Development. Since we discussed it in depth, I believe it would be most helpful to be familiar with it. To help in understanding and following along with our guest, I have taken the liberty of copying his Abstract here:
"In spaceflight as in any other field, measuring progress is a necessary component of making progress. Given multiple proposals for missions and programs, some means for comparison between them must be used in order to inform the choice. Metrics can be used to instill a useful sense of competition between different groups or nations, such as in the case of the early space race, and the Ansari X-Prize. In this paper, I present a metric-mass value-which can be used in decision making and competition at scales ranging from individual space missions, to proposals for large scale settlement of the solar system by humans. Submitted to New Space 8th April 2019."
In addition, prior to our discussion, Dr. Hague sent me a "layman's summary of the paper." I am reprinting it below to assist in understanding this approach to evaluating space missions based on the concept of mass value.
"The aim of this paper is to generate a single figure of merit for every potential space mission that can be used to compare them on the same scale. I’ve called this ‘mass value’. Simply put, it’s the amount of mass that would be have to be placed in low Earth orbit to perform the same mission using the a baseline method. That method would be using storable propellants and Hohmann transfers no gravity assists, aerocapture, high energy propellants are ISRU.
The point of this is to put a price on all those things which make the mission outperform the baseline. You can work out how much mass to LEO you save by making propellant on Mars, or by taking advantage of a certain launch window to get a gravity assist. All on a single scale.
A hands-off government policy could subsidize at a flat rate per kg of mass value, confident they are promoting space development without having legislators involved in engineering decisions.
Aggregating all the missions by a nation, company, or other group could be used to calculate an analogue of GDP for a space civilization. Whilst it does not measure everything we care about – scientific merit, human occupation etc. – neither does GDP. It does capture the overall capability to move around the solar system; and as such is as useful for charting our journey to being a Type II Kardashev civilization as it is for analyzing individual missions."
As with other recent program archives, I am once again repeating the key words/tags here to help you follow along with our discussion. The key words are mostly in the order discussed but you will find some exceptions as from time to time we skipped around with topics.
"A Metric of Solar System Development," a brief space metric history, takeoff thrus, mass to value, comparing multiple proposals for missions and programs to create informed choice, Apollo missions as examples, Mars mission analysis, government compared to commercial missions, payload factor, comparing different space architectures, Falcon Heavy compared to Delta 4 heavy using metrics, rocket fuel of choice impact on metric analysis, hypergolic fuels, orbital issues of concern, Public Private Partnerships and metric analysis, launcher R&D costs, historical mission evaluation using metrics, lunar missions, Voyager 2 metric analysis, evaluating foreign space missions with metrics, nuclear propulsion and metrics, metrics promotion within the space industry, ISRU influence on metric analysis, lunar Gateway and metrics, The Kardashev scale for Type I, Type II, and Type III civilizations- please see (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale).
To further help with our discussion, Dr. Hague focused on kilogram to orbit and variations on that metric plus the concept of mass value which he explained many times during our program. In addition, he talked about how mass value could be impacted by the choice of rocket fuel, ISRU, payload and other factors. He provided us with multiple examples including Apollo and the Saturn 5 compared to other relevant proposed and actual space missions.
Fremont John called to talk with our guest about mass value as a way to compare various mission architectures. By the way, John introduced me to Peter and serves as a great example for listeners referring me to guests for TSS. Listen to what Peter said in response to John's questions, referencing SpaceX and ULA as an example. Peter spoke directly about the Falcon Heavy and the Delta 4 Heavy. He then introduced us to the added impact of hypergolic fuels as a base line, the ISS as an example, in space transfer, cryo fuels and ISP. He provided kilogram examples for the Moon, Mars and mass in orbit. Don't miss his examples. John then asked him about free space such as an O'Neil station. Be sure to hear what he said about this type of space structure and the mall value kilo ratio.
We had multiple listener email questions. Listeners wanted to know if the metric analysis was applicable to private and commercial space missions alike. Listen why Peter preferred the analysis be used by government for government missions. Another listener asked about using the metric to evaluate historical missions. Peter said he had been doing that with a few, talked about a few examples but more work was needed. Also, when asked about doing this analysis with foreign missions, he said it might be difficult depending on how much information was in the public domain about the actual mission.
Peter moved on to talk about liquid hydrogen and the mass value boost using it. He then talked about the Voyager 2 mission which had a mass value of 28,000 tons. Don't miss this discussion and why the tons were relevant. Another listener specifically asked our guest about older Soviet Union missions. This was followed by Bill asking about the impact on the mass value should nuclear propulsion be used. Mars was part of the nuclear propulsion discussion. This was an important exchange because our guest described the way the factors actually move in relationship to one another around mass value.
As we were nearing the end of our program, I asked Peter how he was promoting his work. We talked about publishing his paper and attending conferences prior to Covid 19. As you will hear, promoting his works is challenging, especially without networking and in person events and meetings. I mentioned a few options and he told us he would be presenting at this year's Mars Society Virtual Conference in early to mid-October. As soon as I know Peter's schedule at the event, I will let listeners know about it.
Approaching the end of the program, listeners asked additional questions about going to Mars, ISRU, going to the moons of Mars rather than the Mars surface or even orbiting Mars rather than going to the surface. Before we ended, similar questions were asked about the Moon, the Gateway and the direct approach. Don't miss what our guest said about going to the surface compared to the other approaches. Before ending, Peter added in his discussion about The Kardashev scale.
Please post your comments/questions for Dr. Hague on TSS blog for this show. You can reach our guest through the blog or me.