A better engine is what is needed to get to the moon and the planets in the system

Linguofreak

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I'm sure I don't have to point out to people well-versed in orbital mechanics that it takes 3 days to get to the moon because if you want to cut that time, you have to waste fuel boosting to an orbit that loops well beyond the moon, then waste more fuel braking into lunar orbit... Even breaking it up into specialized chunks doesn't fix that. Personnel and cargo transfers in LEO and possibly LLO would ADD time...

Breaking it up into specialized chunks increases the available Delta-V by allowing each chunk to carry only the equipment necessary for its phase of flight. Lugging a heat shield all the way to the moon and back wastes propellant. Hauling that propellant all the way to the moon wastes more propellant. If you use an NTR for your LEO <-> LLO phase, it likely doesn't have the thrust to launch the stack from Earth itself, so it will need a chemical engine to lift off. Launching it from Earth for every Earth <-> Moon round trip will waste *more* propellant.

If you do it in chunks, you can take all the propellant otherwise wasted on lugging extra weight around, and use it for getting to the destination faster.
 

Moach

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Craft that are good on atmospheres are seldom worth the haul in space - Wings in orbit are as useful as wheels underwater.

An efficient earth-moon-elsewhere transport system would have to have at least two kinds of ship: One for getting out of the pedestrian grabs of earthly air and gravity, another to go the rest of the way.

Perhaps leave the "going outside" vehicle docked at a permanent space station, you could do maintenance on it relatively in comfort there. (the ISS has kind of a crappy orbital inclination for use as a convenient cislunar truck stop, though)

Then you'd use some shuttle-type craft (I recommend a G42-200 Starliner, being totally unbiased in that choice) to get up there and meet up with the "out-goer",

Whichever shuttle could also ferry up any lander gear needed for your mission, it could make trips and take it up in chunks if need be, so size doesn't really matter. Put it all together in orbit, strap it to the mothership (with lots of duct tape, of course) and off we go!

:cheers:

Note that, while the whole process seems it'd take quite a long time when considered all at once, you'd most likely have specialized crews working shifts on each aspect of the operation. You'd have ferry pilots shuttling back and forth from the outbound station on the regular, and various missions could be staged there at any one time.

So from the perspective of your average mission-going traveller person, you'd just take a flight up on the shuttle, get on your already-assembled ship and go on your merry way.

They might make you wait a bit anyhow. It wouldn't be proper "flying" if you didn't have to sit around doing nothing for a while at some point or another. I mean, we have a tradition going on here. Can't mess with that.
 
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