Over the past several years I've tried to develop a high-level blueprint for a private, non-profit, non-governmental space program that would stretch Humanity's reach back to the moon and beyond to Mars and the asteroids: an NGO for space exploration, if you like. NASA's latest Vision for Space Exploration, while typically bloated and vague, may achieve these goals, but a focused, dedicated effort could achieve much more than NASA for an order of magnitude lower cost, free of forty years of bureaucracy and the continuing cost burdens of the shuttle and station programs. The ESA's Aurora Program is also focused in the right direction, though funding and hardware (as is true for NASA's plan) remain illusory.
An organization that could implement any of these plans would have to dedicate $1-2 billion a year and leverage the technologies developed by other private and public entities. This is a thousand times greater than the budgets of existing space advocacy organizations, such as the Planetary Society and the National Space Society. So obviously, only the mega rich (i.e. Gates, Allen, maybe Bezos), could afford to build out this architecture. But perhaps seed money (a billion or two) and an early X-Prize-type success could encourage greater grassroots participation and industry sponsorship.
The artwork for all versions of the UXP architecture is available in the UXP section of my art pages.
Universal Expeditions Architecture Versions
Version 1 (~2001)
This set of pages represents my first cut at a structural and technological architecture. This is an architecture proposed for an independent not-for-profit Universal Expeditions integrator.
Version 2 (~2001)
This version consists of better artwork, located off the UXP art page, but no new architecture.
Version 3 (~2003)
This plan was developed in the wake of the Columbia Disaster. It is focused more in the in line with a national space plan, my cut at what the Vision for Space Exploration ought to have looked like.
Version 4 (pending)
In spare moments I'm still kicking around the idea of what a Universal Spacecraft ought to look like. Something like what the CEV should be. My current spreadsheets and sketches and abandoned ideas are not in any sort of publishable form, but I'll post them up when I think they're at least though out enough for a reasonable discussion.
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by Geir Lanesskog, All Right Reserved