One of the main reasons I took down my old blog was that I as I began by teaching career I was uncomfortable with some of my old writings being not found by students/colleges/whoever and causing issues. However there were quite a few good, non controversial things that I was sad to see removed from the web. With that in mind this is the first in a series
Another kernel of inspiration came from a newsletter I picked up at the BIS the other week, one of which had a summary of this study done by Lockheed-Martin on using Orion capsules to visit a NEO (Near Earth Object). As Orion has been cancelled now this study joins the pile of could have beens proposed over the last 40+ years. It did remind me of a chapter in Bob Zubrin's book Entering space on asteroids missions. It struck me that something similar to this could be put together over the next few years very cheaply.
Using a Bigelow BA330 for the main habitat, Dragon for crew launch and return, F9 upper stages (modified for refueling in orbit and long term propellant storage) and F9/F9 heavy to launch it all an asteroid or Mars orbit mission (to Phobos and Deimos) could be put together for less than $2 billion.
Even cheaper and closer at hand could be a lunar landing, using 2 Falcon heavies to launch fuel pods, a Dragon and a lunar lander developed by Armadillo/Masten. At a guess this could cost less than half a billion all in all.
It would be really cool if this could be done to mark the Apollo 11 50th anniversary landing in 2019!