Design of a Mars Rapid Round Trip Mission


The present work is divided in two parts. The first part analyzes the basic constraints of interplanetary round trip travel, and calculates an interplanetary train schedule (ITS) of missions to Mars in the general case of orbits with non-zero eccentricity and non zero inclination. Options at high energy, which allow rapid round trip missions, are discussed. These options have important applications for human travel to Mars. The second part is about systems engineering aspects for a selected human rapid round trip mission to Mars. Such aspects are the development of a mission architecture, an assessment of the masses involved in the mission (such as the initial mass in LEO), an estimate of the necessary number of launches, and a preliminary analysis of the radiation protection requirements. It is found that for the mission profiles examined and for the opposition date of July 27th, 2018, the transfer times can be shorter by up to 6 weeks, compared to circular orbits. In contrast, for the opposition date of February 19th, 2027, the transfer times can be longer by up to 6 weeks. For the systems engineering study, a comparison between the requirements of a representative rapid round trip mission and those of three NASA Mars reference missions is made in order to understand the relative advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives. The mission has a total round trip time of 1.11 years and a stay time of 25.1 days. It starts on November 27th, 2026 and ends on January 8th, 2028. This mission is comparable to the NASA Mars reference missions in terms of practicality, number of launches, and masses involved.

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Sarzi-Amade, N. and J.R. Wertz. AIAA Space Conference & Exposition, Anaheim, CA. August 30–September 2, 2010.