Thursday, September 25, 2008

More "Mars for Less" (Video)

I really like this video. It's a 7 minute condensation of a complete human Mars mission in 2033, as simulated in Orbiter with the Mars for Less add-on. This complex add-on was developed in 2006 by Andy McSorley and Mark Paton, with some help from a few other Orbiter add-on developers (including me). I've written in this blog about the Mars for Less (MFL) mission concept (developed by Grant Bonin and others) and also about the development and eventual release of this add-on (in February 2008). Andy has a nice MFL page here.

After reading a paper by Grant in 2006, I had the idea to develop a MFL add-on for Orbiter. The goal was to show that Orbiter could be a useful platform for virtual prototyping of human Mars missions, and to write a paper about this for the 2006 Mars Society Conference. Since my add-on modeling skills are minimal, I was lucky that Andy and Mark agreed to join me in this project, and they did a great job, even with complex stuff like Mars atmospheric reentry and precision landing. The paper was written and presented in Washington in August 2006, and it went well (you can download a PDF here). My MFL photo set on Flickr is here.

YouTube user "Belisariusorb" apparently flew the whole MFL mission in Orbiter (with various embellishments such as a European Crew Transfer Vehicle, an expanded Mars base, and robotic resupply missions) and created a 7 minute video showing the highlights of the 2+ year mission. Nice job!

N.B. The 24 MB Orbiter add-on is available here, and there is also a "Mars for Less Extra" developed by Mark Paton which improves the aerodynamic performance and realism of the Earth-return vehicle (ERV) for Earth reentry, along with a few other developments.

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