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CONTEST: Project Ares

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posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:47 PM
The Budget for the R&D part of the project is about $96 billion. The cost for a single vessel is about $3 billion. The operating costs for one ship comes to about $75 million

The Tech level would be close to what it is today, but construction would be with the assistance of a space elevator.

Crew size:
A medium sized crew of 8 people.

Time limit:
The total time frame for the whole mission is about 5.1 months. The ship will travel ~60km/s (relative to the Sun) to Mars and travel a distance of 200 million kilometers to get there. It will take about 2.1 months to get there and then the ship will spend three weeks in orbit, two of those weeks will be spent doing missions on the surface.

Mission & Spacecraft details:

How many go to surface? Stay in orbit?
There will be two MLM's (Mars Landing Module) that can hold a total of four people each. The two teams will go down separately. As in, one team goes down, completes there mission and then returns. Then the second team will go down and do there mission. So their will always be a team of four people in orbit.

Scientific purpose
There are numerous scientific goals on this mission. To further study the effects of space travel on humans. To learn more about the possibilities of living on Mars. To bring back samples of the Martian rocks and soil for a more detailed study. To learn more about radiation in space and on Mars.

There will be no gravity on this design, but the future proposals call for centrifugal created gravity on the later ships. This will help counter the muscle and bone degeneration that happens during long stays in zero gravity. But right now costs must be kept as low as possible.

It will use the fastest communication technology available. Either in radio or laser or both. Either way, communication will be delayed somewhat, so communication will not be constant throughout the mission.

Psychology, health and hygiene
Everything will be done to make the trip as comfortable as possible. Out of the several computers on board, one of them will be dedicated to entertainment. It will have terabytes of storage space. Filled with a selection of the crews favorite movies, music, books and games. All the living quarters will have there own sound system and monitors that are tied into the Entertainment Server (ES). The crew members can then listen to there music or watch movies in private without disturbing the rest of the crew.

Another thing for the crew to do to keep them occupied and to prevent them from getting bored, is to have them take care of their on-board plants. Each crew member could have a few plants assigned to them. They would have to monitor them, make sure they are getting enough water. Basically it's just busy work to keep there mind off the long journey. Also there is an added bonus to having the plants, as it can add a nice aesthetic look to the sterile environment as well as a pleasing scent.

For the crews physical health, their will be a small exercise room where, a few crew members at a time, can exercise for a couple hours a day to help prevent bone and muscle loss in there weightless environment. For hygiene their will of course be wet towels and napkins, treated with a treated with a special disinfecting lotion that one can use to bath and clean themselves with. For keeping your teeth clean, a special chewing gum will be used.

Food and Water storage
The outer hull of the ship will have numerous docking latches around it to hold onto external cargo pods and water tanks. This will allow the inside of the ship to be used fully by the crew and not be crammed or cluttered with all the cargo inside taking up space.

Waste storage
Waste on the ship will be recycled if possible. The waste that cannot be recycled will be pumped to another tank near the nuclear powered rocket. The next time a thruster firring is needed the waste will be added and disintegrated in the blast. Hopefully to minimize any small debris from floating around in space that could cause harm to another ship. Even though the chances of a ship running into debris left by another are extremely slim, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Roles of crew
Although the crew will have all their specific skills, they will all work together and help one another with the assigned tasks. Be it in, soil sample gathering, ship maintenance, photo/video documentation, etc.

  • The main skills for the eight crew members are:
  • Commander (Team 1 leader) / Ship & LML Pilot
  • Second in Command (Team 2 Leader) / Mechanic / Engineer
  • Ship & LML Pilot
  • Areologist / Bio-Chemist
  • Areologist / Physicist
  • Medic / Psychologist
  • Medic
  • Mechanic / Engineer

Maintenance of the ship is to be made as uncomplicated as possible. Sensor and monitors will will be placed all over the ship. They will monitor and identify any problems that arise during the voyage to and from Mars. A graphic display will show the crew where the problem area(s) are. There will also be easy access to vital parts of the ship making it easier for visual inspection and repair.

Between trips to Mars, the ship will remain in geosynchronous orbit, docked to a space elevator. From there, whole sections can be removed and replaced, if needed.

Fuel and propulsion
There will be two modes of propulsion on the ship. One will be a Liquid-core nuclear rocket engine and the other propulsion method will be a mini-magnetosphere plasma propulsion system (M2P2). Both of these will work together to accelerate the ship to Mars and back.

The Liquid-core engine will be used to mostly at the start of the mission in Earth orbit and at Mars, when entering and leaving orbit. The Liquid-core rocket will produce more acceleration more quickly then compared to the M2P2, but with a greater use of fuel. Which is why it's use will be limited.

The M2P2 will be used constantly throughout the whole mission. The M2P2 is basically a magnetic bubble that surrounds the ship, much like the magnetosphere that surrounds Earth (and other planets). It acts a lot like a solar or magnetic sail, but without the drop in efficiency when they get further from the Sun. The M2P2's bubble expands automatically the further it gets, so it's thrust never decreases. The nuclear reactor easily supplies enough power for the M2P2. There would also need to be tanks of ionized gases to replenish the magnetosphere which leaks. The only real downside to the M2P2 system is its slow acceleration, but with the combination of this and the Liquid-core rockets, it shouldn't be an issue.

Continued in next post, due to length

[edit on 5/30/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]

posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:47 PM
Radiation and foreign object shielding
A plus side to using the M2P2 system is that it also doubles as a radiation shield. Just like Earths magnetosphere, the ships mini-magnetosphere also blocks out radiation from the Sun. It's not as strong as the Earths magnetosphere, but it help block out a lot of the Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) and also any radiation that one would get from a Solar Particle Event (SPE). The outer hull of the ship will also consist of high strength, low-atomic-mass materials such as polymers. These will also help to block any radiation that may harm the crew. It doesn't block out all the radiation 100%, but it will block out enough to keep the crew safe for there journey to Mars and back.

The ship will be powered by a Nuclear reactor. The output of this reactor will be about 400MWe.

Shelter (on Mars)
Like the Lunar Module, the Mars Landing Module will be used as a shelter during the week long stay on the surface. The living space will be cramped but relatively comfortable for four people.

Landing zones (on Mars)
Having two teams allows one to get a wider verity of study and samples. One team will land in the northern hemisphere of Mars where the topography mostly consists of flattened plains from lava flows. Ideally the team would land within close range of one of the many volcanoes on Mars. Elysium Mons which resides in the Elysium Planitia would be a prime choice for a landing site.

The second team would land within the southern hemisphere where the topography is cratered and pitted from impacts. This should allow for a greater study of the underlying soil of the Martian surface. The Hellas Planitia region would make for a good landing location for the second team.

[edit on 5/30/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]

posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:48 PM

Don't come forward as to who you are, as it could make the judgings biased.


U2U me your judgings, don't post them in this thread.

More on how the contest works can be found here: Mission to Mars: A Space Exploration CONTEST

If you want to enter the contest, you have until the 25th of May to do so still!

Feel free to use this thread to discuss, critique, and comment on this plan!

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