Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mars For Less

Over at MarsDrive Consortium is a fascinating document entitled MarsDrive Reference Mission: "Mars for Less" (1.9 MB PDF). It is a nicely explained and illustrated description of how a Mars Direct type manned Mars mission could be accomplished through the use of multiple launches with medium lift launch vehicles sooner and more cost-effectively than with heavy-lift launch vehicles.

While HLLV's are certainly desirable, their development time and costs are very high, meaning that they will probably not be available for many years, assuming their development survives the budget hurdles of multiple administrations and crises. There certainly are also challenges in assembling large Mars-bound systems in Earth orbit, but this paper explains that these are not insurmountable, and in some respects, on-orbit assembly represents the most well-tested aspect of manned Mars missions. And there are already MLLV's that can do the job, with more in development, so development delays and other problems with one launch vehicle do not necessarily lie in the critical path of the entire mission.

This paper was written by Grant Bonin based in part on earlier articles he published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 58, 2005, and The Space Review, January 2006.


Edward Ott said...

great article about travelling to Mars, made me think of Zubrin. cool Blog.


Andy Mc said...

Nice find Bruce!

Anthony Kendall said...

I agree, great find. Bonin's articles were thought provoking, and it's great to see some effort put towards re-examining Zubrin's ideas. Competition is the mother of innovation.

FlyingSinger said...

Thanks everyone. It's not much of a "find" that I can take credit for, since I'm on the MDC team and mailing list and am working (eventually) with Grant on MDC outreach projects, but I hadn't looked closely at his reshaping of this since the Space Review articles in January, and it's pretty nice with the graphics and all. Now I really want to see this in Orbiter, with the propulsion modules set up for remote control docking (if that would also allow them to be staged, bit tricky there).

So maybe "nice share" is more like it, but that's a good part of this whole blog thing, isn't it?