It only took 8 years for JFK’s dream to land a man on the moon to be fulfilled, but plans to to land a man on is going to take just that little bit longer. Twenty-Four years to be precise, but at least we know how we’re going to go about getting our people there.
Thanks to some new details released by NASA for their new Constellation manned mission, we now have an insight in to what the missions will look like. When they finally take place… But, all the years between now and then aside, the plan looks pretty cool.
A 400,000kg (880,000lb) spacecraft would be constructed, in space. Due to the necessity of a craft that can act autonomously of NASA control, make the distance, and provide for its crew for a 900 day mission, the size of the ‘marscraft’ is obviously going to exceed that of the current space shuttles.
It would take three to four Ares V rockets to launch the elements of the spacecraft in to a low Earth orbit.
A ‘minimal crew’ would make the journey to Mars, taking approximately six to seven months to traverse the distance. A total of 550 days would be spent on the surface of Mars, before returning. Sent every 26 months to the red planet, the crews would need to take up to 50,000kg of cargo with them. They’d need an ‘aerodynamic and powered descent’ and autonomy or at least asynchronous from NASA control.
However, sending the crew is not the only part of this mission. Where are they going to live? How will all their equipment make the journey? That’s why their mission will be preceded by two separate missions.
With a theoretical launch date for the manned mission to Mars arriving in February of 2031, a cargo lander and surface habitat would be launched December 2028 and January 2029, respectively using two Ares V launches. Subsequently, the launder will arrive October 2029, and the habitat a month later; the crew will arrive August 2031.
The second set of pre-launches will occur in late 2030/early 2031, and anticipated to reach at the same time as the first crew. Thus, in the first quarter of 2033, the second mission’s crew will launch to arrive on by December, with the first crew having left January that same year, after a 17-month stay.
It’s all complicated, and thankfully left up to the experts, but no less exciting. Instead of just hoping that we’ll eventually get to land on Mars, plans are being put in to place to make that happen.
Posted by Josh Hill.
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