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Buzz Aldrin is recently quoted in Ars Technical's Buzz Aldrin is looking forward, not back—and he has a plan to bring NASA along:

“This T.O.R. plan may be the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Aldrin said.

The article says:

For this reason, a lot of aerospace engineers have long argued that deep space missions should be staged out of low-Earth orbit. And as Aldrin has thought about the current state of NASA and private industry, he has come around to this way of thinking, too. He therefore envisions building the “Gateway” not near the Moon but rather in low-Earth orbit. From this gathering point, missions could be assembled to go to the Moon or elsewhere. Aldrin calls this a “TransWay Orbit Rendezvous,” or T.O.R., because it represents a point of transferring from one orbit around Earth to another.

The article quotes "George Sowers, now a professor of engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, used to be the chief scientist for the rocket company United Launch Alliance (ULA)." saying:

“Buzz’s plan looks eerily similar to the first few steps in the Cislunar 1000 framework for the commercial development of cislunar space,” Sowers said. “Bottom line, Buzz’s ideas are coherent and technically feasible. In fact, I think the whole community, even some elements within NASA, is starting to get aligned.”

The article also quotes "Dallas Bienhoff, founder of the Cislunar Space Development Company, (who) worked at Boeing and developed concepts like lunar habitats, propellant depots, space tugs, and more." saying:

“Since leaving Boeing, I’ve been promoting a total reusable architecture in cislunar space,” Bienhoff said. Some of the details vary from Aldrin’s concept, but the basic elements are the same: nodes in low-Earth orbit and lunar orbit, tugs moving in between, mining propellant from the Moon and relying on smaller launch vehicles.


Aldrin's T.O.R. plan sounds like it has support from knowledgable people, and staging from LEO rather than from a near-rectilinear halo orbit near the Moon certainly sounds reasonable.

Question: Where can we read more about Buzz Aldrin's T.O.R. plan? What is it, and how does it work?


cued at 22:25 when the US president is telling the director of NASA to listen to Aldrin and others:

US President: Well I’d like to have you also listen to the other side, because some people would like to do it a different way.

NASA Director: Yes sir.

US President: Alright, so you’ll listen to Buzz and some of the other people, because they also feel — I know this has been going on for a little while and we’re so advanced, but I would like to hear the other side, right?

NASA Director: Yes sir.

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    $\begingroup$ Everything old is new again! A low earth orbit space station that serves as a transfer point! Space tugs! Maybe we can build a winged, reusable vehicle to service the space station! I loved this plan in the 70s. media.wired.com/photos/593306f352d99d6b984e0edc/master/… $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 10 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble as I mentioned here sometimes I'm slow, but I'm starting to get the picture. (also, enjoying the WIRED article) Now, about this winged, reusable vehicle, tell me more... ;-) $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 10 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ I give Collins' opinion high weight. His books are excellent. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 19 at 0:12
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh fabulous WIRED link. Love how the unreality scales: start by spluttering at a plan that includes the already-cancelled Saturn V, by the end quietly nod at a Mars mission that adds to an existing elaborate orbital infrastructure no fewer than 97 space shuttle launches, 16 Saturn V-derivatives, and 6 nuclear shuttles. All by the early 1980s - in our pedestrian timeline the shuttle had only just started flying then and across the next 30 years only modestly exceeded that mission count. Engenders feelings of anemoia. $\endgroup$ – Tom Goodfellow Jul 20 at 6:55
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Buzz Aldrin is against the Artemis Program because it would be expensive as the SLS is not reusable (similar to the Apollo program and the Saturn V) and a single launch can cost up to 1.5 billion USD. Instead he proposes a different plan, the T.O.R.(TransWay Orbit Rendezvous). The first two passages can be found in the article @uhoh linked.

At least Orion is reusable; by contrast the large, expendable SLS rocket will cost more than $1.5 billion per flight and require a standing army of contractors just to keep supply lines open for, at most, a single mission per year.

To answer your question "What is Buzz Aldrin's T.O.R." T.O.R is a plan to build a station in low earth orbit where many missions can be assembled to go to the moon, Mars and more.

He therefore envisions building the “Gateway” not near the Moon but rather in low-Earth orbit. From this gathering point, missions could be assembled to go to the Moon or elsewhere. Aldrin calls this a “TransWay Orbit Rendezvous,” or T.O.R., because it represents a point of transferring from one orbit around Earth to another.

This plan is better as per this article than the Artemis Program because it would be cheaper and allow missions to go anywhere and not just the Moon.

Inexpensive commercial launch vehicles and astronauts in commercial crew capsules would reach the LEO gateway. There a space tug that could move up to 25 tons would shuttle back and forth between the gateway and the moon where it would deploy a landing and return spacecraft. Overall, this is a much simpler and less costly approach.

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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I just wanted to emphasize the bolded point in that passage. But yes, I am further looking into T.O.R. and I'll be sure to edit my answer if I find more information. Thanks for your comment :) $\endgroup$ – StarMan Jul 19 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ okay great, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 19 at 0:58
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh The only other article I found was this. jmpientka.com/2019/07/16/… $\endgroup$ – StarMan Jul 19 at 1:15

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