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Mars Space Science

Millionaire Plans Mission To Mars In 2018 97

littlesparkvt writes in with news about the possibility of a privately funded Mars mission. "Millionaire Dennis Tito became the first paying customer to make a trip to the International Space Station and now he wants to launch a privately funded mission to Mars in 2018. Dennis paid a reported 20 Million to ride aboard a Russian rocket to the International Space Station and has since stayed out of the spotlight, until now. There’s no word whether the trip will include humans, there will be more information on that fact next week. Considering there is little time to train a crew for the mission the flight in 2018 will most likely be an unmanned probe. There’s also a possibility that the first mission to Mars from this private investor will harbor supplies for future astronauts. Plants and food are a possibility as they would take much less space than a full human crew."
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Millionaire Plans Mission To Mars In 2018

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  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:44PM (#42973953) Homepage Journal

    From http://www.newspacejournal.com/2013/02/21/new-insights-on-that-private-crewed-mars-mission/ [newspacejournal.com]:

    This publication obtained a copy of the paper Tito et al. plan to present at the conference, discussing a crewed free-return Mars mission that would fly by Mars, but not go into orbit around the planet or land on it. This 501-day mission would launch in January 2018, using a modified SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket. According to the paper, existing environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) technologies would allow such a spacecraft to support two people for the mission, although in Spartan condition. âoeCrew comfort is limited to survival needs only. For example, sponge baths are acceptable, with no need for showers,â the paper states.

    The IEEE Aerospace Conference is in March [aeroconf.org] -- next month. That's pretty interesting timing.

  • by IdahoEv ( 195056 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:04PM (#42974129) Homepage

    The Mars One people have no intention to bring anyone home. Presumably Tito wants his ass back on the Earth someday.

    This is a farce anyway. Tito's net worth is more than a full order of magnitude too small for even the cheapest conceviable Mars mission.

  • by TrevorB ( 57780 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:31PM (#42974763) Homepage

    Apparently 2018 has an opportunity for a 501 day free-return trajectory. It could just be a flyby.

  • by PerMolestiasEruditio ( 1118269 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:43AM (#42976659)

    They are planning a Mars fly-by so apart from the problem of providing life support for 500 days there is actually less deltaV required than for the Apollo moon missions because they don't need an extra 4.5km/s to land and takeoff from the moon's surface.

    Almost all the fuel will be used at earth escape, and only minimal maneuvering thrust from there on so a modified dragon capsule is probably capable of doing the job. Launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket that might cost less than $200 million in total (costs $140 million for a Falcon 9 Dragon launch to LEO).

    The dragon capsule can carry 6.6 tonnes of payload and is designed to survive in space for up to 2 years, so has more than enough capacity to support 2 people. And while some may claim that 2 people cannot survive in a capsule that big for a year and a half for psychological reasons, that is just bollocks - but it will be easier if they pick people with the right sort of temperament.

  • by tragedy ( 27079 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:47AM (#42976667)

    You don't seem to have actually read the post you're replying to. IdahoEV doesn't seem to have any illusions for you to correct.

    You seem to have some illusions about the relative difficulties of launching from various celestial bodies, however. First of all, you can't even get remotely close to orbiting the Moon by jumping there. Perhaps you were confusing our Moon with Deimos, where you really could pull that off with a good leap. On the moon, the minimum you need for orbit is about 1.5 km/s, which is a bit hard to achieve. You wouldn't be able to manage it even if you could jump tall buildings in a single bound back on Earth.

    The escape velocity of the Moon is about 2.4 km/s. The escape velocity of Mars is about 5 km/s. For Earth, it's about 11.2 km/s. So Mars has just over twice the escape velocity of the Moon and Earth has a bit more than twice the escape velocity of Mars. That makes taking off from Mars more like taking off from the Moon than it is like taking off from the Earth, especially so when you consider the near-vacuum of the atmosphere. The Apollo ascender was about 56% fuel by mass, but only had to achieve about 1.7 km/s to meet up with the command module. A Mars mission would similarly only need to achieve about 3.36 km/s (Mars Odyssey orbit, for reference). Using the ideal rocket equation, that means that a Mars ascender with comparable specific impulse to the Apollo ascender would need about a 3 to 1 propellant to payload ratio. That's idealized, of course. It might actually be something like 5 to 1. It's more than the Moon, but it's not some ridiculously unattainable ratio. We can also certainly get it out of our gravity well, even if we need to launch the lander dry and fill it in orbit. As far as landing goes, the thin atmosphere of Mars, while fairly launch friendly, still offers significant aerobraking potential. Enough that the amount of fuel you need for landing your lander + ascender + fuel for ascension shouldn't need to be more than the amount of fuel you need for ascension.

    Anyway, in the end, fuel is cheap in space travel. It's going to be something like 1% of the budget for even a big, dumb rocket. There clearly will be a lot needed for a Mars mission, but it's not one of those cases where the requirements rapidly grow ridiculously out of bounds and you need a mountain worth of fuel to send an apple there and back.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller