Thursday, July 01, 2010
My Own Ariane 5 Launch
Seeing the full-size Ariane 5 launcher at the space museum in Toulouse last week reminded me of my own Ariane 5 launching days back in 2006. Of course those were virtual launches in Orbiter, and at the time I was working with Andy McSorley, Mark Paton, and Grant Bonin on an Orbiter simulation of the proposed "Mars for Less" approach for getting humans to Mars sooner rather than later. This involves launching the Mars-bound spacecraft in modules using a "medium" booster (of which Ariane 5 is a good example, with a payload to LEO of around 20 metric tonnes). The modules would be designed to assemble in orbit essentially by docking, without the complex, EVA-based construction methods used for the ISS. The whole project became a rather complex add-on for Orbiter (there's also an "extra" package for it here). Andy and Mark came up with some great models and programming for it.
I wrote a number of blog posts on this at the time and posted many pictures on Flickr. I also presented the technical paper (PDF, PDF slides here) that we wrote about this at the 2006 Mars Society Convention in Washington, DC. It was fun. The Orbiter screen shot shown here is one of my favorites. The Ariane 5 carries the logos of various space agencies since we assumed that a human Mars mission would be a multinational effort.