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DIY moon probe possible?

  1. Jan 13, 2014 #1
    With a small budget would it be possible to make a rocket capable of delivering a small probe to the moon?

    A rocket that puts the probe into earth orbit and them Hoffman transfer to the moon and guides itself to the surface?

    I am talking very small, maybe the size of a baseball, that transmits back to earth and uses a pre-programmed landing routine with smallish thrusters.

    Would it be possible?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2014 #2

    D H

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    If by a small budget you mean only fifty million dollars or so, then yes, it's possible. That is an incredibly small figure. None of the serious contenders in the Google Lunar X Prize contest expect the $30 million award (if they win it) to offset the costs. If your definition of small is less than a million, then no, it's not possible.
  4. Jan 13, 2014 #3
    But what about a ballon that takes a rocket up to a very high altitude and then fires the rocket away from earth?

    Should be less than $10k
  5. Jan 13, 2014 #4


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    The rocket will go up a little bit, and then fall back to Earth. Quiz question -- why?
  6. Jan 13, 2014 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

  7. Jan 13, 2014 #6
    You might investigate the minimum it would take to get, say 1 kg into Earth orbit before you worry about going to the Moon.

    I did this a few years ago and came up with a 4-stage liquid fueled rocket weighing 3300 kg, about 11 m long, with a first stage thrust of about 40000 newtons. Non-trivial.
  8. Jan 13, 2014 #7


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    Honestly, for $10k, you'd be hard pressed to even design a sounding rocket that could make it into space (>100km altitude). Orbit is significantly harder, and a lunar trajectory is harder still. I would expect any viable attempt to cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, even with a pretty small payload.
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