Another Giant Leap...
While the current lunar exploration initiative has been justified as a “stepping stone” toward Mars, human missions to Mars represent a major step up in complexity, scale, and rigour compared to lunar missions. Lacking a capability for rapid abort (such as exist for lunar missions), all systems for Mars missions MUST function for up to 2.7 years and there is no escape if a subsystem fails. Previous design reference missions (DRMs) that outline future human missions to Mars have typically adopted optimistic assumptions regarding key technical capabilities: (1) nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) performance, (2) mass of aero-entry systems at Mars, (3) radiation shielding, (4) effects of zero-g, (5) efficiency and mass of life support systems, and (6) abort opportunities. With these assumptions, a case has be made that human missions to Mars could be feasible by perhaps 2040.
KeywordsElliptical Orbit Gear Ratio Advance Life Support Life Support System Artificial Gravity
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