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CONTEST: Mission to planet Mars: HALYCON

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posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:40 PM
--Report write date 28.4.2015--

‘HALYCON’ is an Australian / worldwide project that is set to transport 6 persons to the Martian surface by the year of 2020. These documents are a summary of the program so far. For detailed specifications, see Appendix 1.

Initially proposed in 2008, it received less-than-optimistic reviews by news media from around the world. Less then one year later, the project was in full operation; with potential astronauts being reviewed, a craft on the drawing boards, and full co-operation from the governments of Austria, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the People's Republic of China, the United States and the Ukraine.
Not all the nations that responded to the Australian open invitation to assist had been involved in space operations before, and as such the inclusion of these countries only served

to increase the number of new ideas, equipment and expertise available for Halycon.

Halycon is a government financed project, with Australia, the U.S., China, Japan, Britain and Germany providing funds.
All countries involved have been able to send both experts and students to help with the design and construction of both the craft (termed ‘AVALON’) and the mission. This offers a vast, broad and free learning experience for all involved – professional and undergraduate alike – and increases the innovation of Halycon by bringing in many new proposals from many new and untapped sources; all of which would not be possible for a purely government run project.

The extent that the program has facilitated international co-operation has yet to be investigated.
All in all, the Halycon mission to Mars project has been a success thus far, much to the surprise of what can only be called the majority of many nations and people.


Halycon Details:

Here follows a project summary, a mission summary, and a craft / items summary.



Initially, 14 nations contributed their services to the Australian governments’ Mars mission in response to the Australian invitation to any nation interested in the project to join the Halycon Team. Since then, this number has expanded to 20, with the list including Austria, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the People's Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and the Ukraine; all inputting their services, and thus expanding the project an enormous amount. Some countries are still considering wether to contribute their services or not, such as South Korea, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Zaire and India.

When these original 14 nations signed up within the first year, they each permanently contributed on average 11 experts in any given field, and around 14 tertiary students. The latter six nations contributed on average 6 experts and 14 students. So within the first year, Halycon had expanded from 60 Australian personnel to over 420 from around the globe. Thousands of other university students have been rotated through the operational parts of the project by all contributing countries.
The physical research quarters for the project were located in Melbourne, Australia; but because of the troubles with accommodation that accompanied these numbers, as well as the difficulty of getting to and from the quarters, the whole project and everyone involved was moved to the Woomera test site in South Australia, an old satellite launch facility and former missile and nuclear weapons testing ground. The relatively abandoned Woomera Prohibited Area covers 127, 000 square kilometres (approximately the size of England), was able to host over 2, 000 people in its various buildings, and was also fully equipped for the design, manufacture and testing of various – even space-faring – vehicles, thanks to its heritage. The Australian Space Research Institute (who had been using Woomera for some time) did not protest to Project Halycon taking over its facilities, because the majority of its employees and volunteers were involved in the Mars program in some way or another.

While many at first considered the Halycon Project to be on a shoestring – mainly because the majority of the participants were students, and it was an Australian project – the open invitation to any nation worldwide to offer their opinions, services and personnel if they wished proved to be very successful, increasing funding 2, 100 percent and adding much knowledge to the pool already available.

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The history of the Halycon program is also decidedly odd.

The first serious discussion to start a project to put man on Mars took place not at the upper levels of national policy making, but in a classroom at the University of New South Wales. In late 2006, a small university study group was tasked with the assignment of researching viable methods of other-planet exploration by humans. One of the students eventually found a website where the exact same research project had taken place earlier that year. Basing his idea on three of the examples found on the site, he soon developed an actual viable mission plan, and had a strong backing within his school to actually start a real Mars project, arcane as that may seem at this point in time.
After taking just over a year to rally support from such organizations as Astrotech Space Operations, the Science and Technology Organisation, and the Australian Space Research Institute, the group approached the federal government. It was an enormous surprise to all involved when the government readily accepted the proposal.
Within a week a press release was ready - which made the majority interested in the project deeply suspicious of some sort of inside or outside involvement, as many deemed the Howard government of that time hardly about to get involved in such a risky, almost ridiculous investment. Indeed, it was termed immediately by the opposition as “strange,” “cursory” and “unlikely to succeed.”

Later, such private organizations as ‘Red Colony’ elected to join the Halycon program as well, as soon as it was established that the program was indeed not following the rather low expectations initially set by critics.

[edit on 5/31/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:53 PM
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The total cost of the program so far, including all expenses, totals just over AUD 10 billion dollars (USD $7.6 billion), or 5.5 percent of the total cost of the Apollo program.
The majority of the initial development costs have been already paid, but expenses for Avalons main engine and the actual launches – as well as for a fair amount of smaller costs as you would expect – are yet to be compensated.


Mission: MTM-1 / Halycon

MTM-1 (Mars Transit Mission-1), a.k.a. ‘Project Halycon’ is a program designed to place six persons on the surface of the planet Mars by 2020, 5 years from now. The project was initiated 7 years ago, and is deemed to be a ‘one use’ plan only.

The actual spacecraft, named ‘Avalon,’ will be ferried to the International Space Station in sections aboard a slightly modified version of the U.S. Orbital Space Plane (a craft initially scrapped in favour of the ‘Crew Exploration Vehicle’, which was in turn a replacement for the ‘Space Shuttle’ after 2010) over the period of 3 years / 8 STS missions, with the initial OSP launch set for 2017. The OSP transport missions will be launched from Cape Canaveral, at a cost of approximately USD 36 million per mission, vastly cheaper than comparable per-mission costs of the Space Shuttle.
The modules were constructed in Australia, the United States, Germany and the Russian Federation, with Australia handling the Berthing vehicle, the U.S. handling the Engines module, Germany constructing both the Payloads module and the Mars Descent / Ascent vehicle, and Russia building the engine on the Mars Descent / Ascent vehicle. The modules and all supplementary parts will all be flown to Cape Canaveral on cargo A-380s to be assembled, tested, disassembled, and then launched. It will arrive at ISS as 6 separate sections; to be assembled into the Payloads module, the Engines module, the Mars Descent / Ascent vehicle, and the Berthing vehicle while in orbit. The remaining two missions will bring the materials needed to properly construct mate the 4 modules, as well as consumables, instruments, additional equipment, the crew, and any extra components that made one of the modules too heavy for the OSP.

The crew of Avalon will consist of:

#1. Spacecraft Pilot & Deputy Craft Commander.

#2. Co-Pilot, Craft Commander.

#3. Mission Specialist 1.

#4. Mission Specialist 2 / Engines Specialist.

#5. Mission Specialist 3 / Onboard Systems Expert.

#6. Payloads Commander / Payloads Specialist.

Mission Profile
Once Avalon is fully assembled in low Earth orbit by ISS crewmembers, the Avalon crew will leave Earth’s surface one week prior to mission departure. There, they will train in the actual Avalon spacecraft to supplement their Earth-based simulation time, reinforce their knowledge of the spacecraft systems, and get used to being aboard Avalon in general. In the 7 days prior to departure, they will be living in the Berthing module only.

At T-minus 2 minutes, the ISS with completed Avalon craft attached will commence a vertical spin relative to the Earth’s surface, utilizing its Reaction Control System to propel Avalon to a currently approximate speed of 20 metres per second. At a time to be determined down the micro-second, specially strengthened docking clamps will be opened, using explosive bolts to ensure that release is quick and accurate. Avalon will at this stage be propelled towards the Earth’s Moon at a speed of 20 m / s, and will be able to start its engines after 35 minutes, as to ensure that ISSs orbit and the craft itself are not damaged by the powerful main engines.
Avalons own RCS will not be used to manoeuvre the craft away from ISS because it only has limited supplies of the gasses needed to drive the system, all of which will be needed in the actual transits to and from Mars. The ISS will use its RCS to control its spin, utilizing pre-programmed controls already simulated.

After a trip of just under two days, the Avalon craft will orbit the Moon three times to enable a completely accurate – and therefore timesaving – initial travel path, something that can only be done when orbiting a large mass. Avalon will not travel to Mars at a constant speed; rather, as it has an almost unlimited amount of thrust, it will increase its speed at a steady rate until the time it is required to slow down to safely enter orbit – around the halfway mark of the initial trip. Its peak speed during both the to and from trips is expected to be just over 42, 000 kilometres per hour, which will break the record for the fastest speed ever attained by a being by 2, 103 k/ph.

The transit period from Earth to Mars will be around 4 or less months, mainly thanks to the powerful engines, which have cut down the expected transit time for the 100 million mile journey from 7 or 8 months. Along the way, Avalon will be expected to make approximately 5 course corrections to compensate for customarily always slightly inaccurate initial travel paths.

During this time spent in transit, the crew will be rigorously studying mission plans, conducting scientific tests, and keeping fit to be prepared for surface activities on Mars. The vastly decreased transit time will also help to lessen the physical effects space has on the human body (more on this below), and will decrease the mental agitation and degradation long periods spent in relative isolation can cause.

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When orbiting Mars, Avalon will travel diagonally across the terrestrial surface, to give access the proposed landing site with a minimum loss of fuel in the Descent / Ascent vehicle. Avalon will then orbit for a day as the crew prepare to leave the orbiting station.
An alternate at this stage of the mission is an orbit of up to three weeks, if adverse weather conditions on the surface or faulty equipment on Earth or Avalon causes delays.
Once the crew is ready, they will turn off all non-essential systems onboard the craft, board the Mars Descent / Ascent vehicle, and detach from the main craft while above the Martian northern hemisphere.

Rotating immediately to shield the more delicate Payloads module that is attached, the Descent / Ascent vehicle will cross into the southern hemisphere descending at a speed of roughly 30, 000 kilometres per hour. After a minute, the craft will start to enter the Martian atmosphere. Here, it will use a heat shield to protect the occupants and equipment from excess heat build-up.

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:53 PM
After another minute, it will jettison the heat shield and Payloads module (which has high air-drag devices of its own) and deploy speed brakes and then parachutes of increasing sizes until it is going at a satisfactory descent speed, i.e. one that is not going to add an abstract art piece to the Martian landscape, as it has been said.

The four to six non-porous airbags will inflate about 200-500 metres above the landing zone, and the craft will touch down onto these with a descent speed of at most 3 metres per second. The airbags will be set-up in such a way to make any rolling and bouncing unlikely, but if this happens all equipment and crew will be strapped in.

If the craft lands correctly, the airbags will immediately deflate, bringing the craft gently onto the surface. If it lands and rolls onto its side and even on its top, the crew will still be able to exit the craft, and will right it with manpower and onboard jacks.

Once they plan the exit the craft, the crew will merely open a door at first, as the craft only had enough gas in it during descent to combat any adverse effects that would occur during descent. When they return to the craft, they will be able to use the whole vehicle as a pressure-lock.
One of the problems associated with this is that astronauts could introduce Martian dust into the craft’s interior as they walk in. Because the exact constituents of the Martian surface are unknown (and even if they were, they would vary from place to place), astronauts will run a powerful electrostatic particle collecting device over themselves before they enter the interior, and other essential items will be coated in anti-dust films to prevent this from happening.

Landing Site
The planned landing site for the Mars Descent / Ascent vehicles is Hellas Planitia, an impact crater 6 - 9, 000 metres deep and 2, 000 kilometres in diameter, located in Mars’ southern hemisphere. Remnants of the original asteroid material are expected to still be embedded just below the surface. This is one of the objectives of the mission; to obtain deep-space rock by drilling.
Also, there is the distinct possibility that liquid water may exist at the very deep centre of the crater when temperatures are above zero centigrade and approaching normal Earth air pressure. The crew will look further into this.
Hellas Planitia was initially marked as a possible landing site in 2008, when the MarsFlyer first took to the planets skies. Since then, the two subsequent flights of Martian aeroplanes have confirmed this site as the landing zone.

The vehicle will touch down in the summer months on Mars, to avoid the extreme cold of winter (in winter, it gets so cold as to cause slabs of dry ice – solidified carbon dioxide – to fall out of the sky).

Surface Activities
Once on the surface, the astronauts will not be required to do much exploring: landers and rovers have done and will do this. As humans, they are better suited to complicated tasks such as sub-surface sampling and other undertakings that require complex, synchronized movements and an ability to immediately improvise.

In one of many scientific tests, the Avalon crew will scoop up top-soil, add the required nutrients, and then place genetically adjusted green plants into specially constructed miniature greenhouses to see if they increase the presence of oxygen and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide.
As well as this atmospheric adjustment testing, astronauts will sample the Martian atmosphere in fine detail, and – if their results support current theories – will proceed to initiate the first steps of what could take centuries to get the Martian atmosphere within the limits required by the human respiratory system. They will also compile as much data as possible for other terraform projects that may or may not be instigated in future.

Some of the ways they will do this include testing the soil and sub-soil substances using IR and X-ray spectroscopy and dust flux measurement, as well as searching for life-forms - both active microscopic and fossilized microscopic - and conducting geochemistry and petrology tests of rocks and soils. In addition, they will analyse crustal materials, airborne particles, dust contaminants, and the rotational and orbital dynamics of the planet far more precisely than has been previously possible. Also, testing of the abrasive properties of most surface objects and textures for use in designing further Martian transportation vehicles and facilities will be conducted, with the same going for the adherence properties of most textures; plus they will place infrared mineralogical mapping spectrometers in pre-determined locations, and various reflective surfaces on any highpoints to beam back accurate distance measurements to Earth.
The crew will also place ultraviolet, visual light and infrared atmospheric spectrometers to transmit information back the Earth once the craft leaves. The astronauts will even set up sub-surface sounding radar altimeters, an energetic neutral atom analyser, and various planetary fourier spectrometers.

They will also test the likelihood of being able to extract usable amounts of hydrogen from any liquid water found, for use in rocket engines.

After all required test and experiments are completed, astronauts will check the craft, board the Descent / Ascent vehicle (taking only their results with them in case the communications equipment fails) and leave most equipment and instruments in the now-sealed Payloads module for possible future use. A rocket engine will be ignited, and used to attain the necessary escape velocity. The vehicle will leave the lightweight base-plate there, which was solely set up to provide a flat, level, and stable launch platform. They will then rendezvous with Avalon, and leave Mars orbit for the 4 or less month journey back home.

After that time is up, they will directly enter low Earth orbit, bleeding off speed with the main engine, and use what RCS gas is left to dock with the ISS. There, the Descent / Ascent module and the Engine modules are left with the ISS, the former for storage space and the latter to be used for any possible future missions. The crew will then undergo a space-based decontamination and quarantine, and afterwards be sent back down to Earth aboard an OSP, 10 ½ months after they first left Earths surface.

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:53 PM
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Mission Timeline

Day 1: Crew boards the International Space Station, proceed to Avalons Berthing module.

Day 2: Crew begins training and environment adjustment.

Day 4: Onboard / outboard systems verification checks begin.

Day 6: Onboard / outboard systems verification checks completed. Main engine spooling up begins.

Day 7: Avalon mission officially begins. Avalon departs ISS / starts main engine.

Day 9: Avalon enters Moon orbit to ensure accurate travel path. Main engine thrust is brought up to maximum permissible for mission (75 percent of total thrust).

Day 54: Avalon will rotate so its main engine is facing Mars, and will then begin its orbital burn.

Day 109: Avalon will enter an orbit around Mars. Crew will perform final preparations for Martian descent.

Day 110: Mars Descent / Ascent Vehicle & Payloads Module will undock from Avalon and proceed to enter the Martian atmosphere and land at the appointed site.

Day 111: Tests, experiments, celebrations, minor exploration and other assigned tasks are carried out.

Day 112: Tests, experiments, minor exploration and other assigned tasks are carried out.

Day 113: Final tests, experiments, celebrations, minor exploration and other assigned tasks are carried out. Mars Descent / Ascent Vehicle leaves Mars surface and proceeds to re-dock with Avalon.

Day 114: Avalon commences de-orbit burn, increasing speed at computer timed intervals to establish an accurate travel path for a direct entry to Earth orbit.

Day 179: Avalon will rotate so its main engine is facing Earth, and then begin its orbital burn

Day 243: Avalon enters an orbit around Earth, and will then dock with the International Space Station. Crew will begin their quarantine and decontamination.

Day 304: Crew will board an Orbital Space Plane, enter Earth’s atmosphere, and land at Cape Canaveral.

Day 309 - 313 . . . : Crew will be treated to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, and will then be forced to attend many unwanted press conferences and be hounded by the media for the next year.

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Command and Control
Before launch, every aspect of the Halycon mission will have been simulated, and it will be possible for Avalons onboard computers to fly the whole mission independent of outside interference. Of course, this will not be the case, as just a dozen computers can not be relied on for an excursion of this magnitude. At all available moments during the mission, Avalons computers will be in contact with ground-stations on Earth, relaying and double-checking every piece of information that has to be considered. A human will not be required to take the controls of any vehicle save the Rover at any time of the mission if all goes as planned, and the Halycon team have no reason to believe it won’t.
At least 50 personnel will be permanently standing watch at all hours of the day and night at NASA’s Mission Control Centre located at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Two additional teams will be located in Spain and Australia, both on 1 hour stand-by in case Houston Control suffers a problem.


Craft / Items


Click on image to see full size.

Project Halycons spacecraft, the Avalon, is a truly revolutionary vehicle. It incorporates new design features, new engines and new construction techniques, but then also employs operating concepts over half a century old.

Avalon is not shaped like most space vehicles, which are usually aerodynamically structured because they are required to enter a gaseous atmosphere at some stage of their missions. Rather, Avalon is a contemplation of modules seemingly haphazardly stuck together in the most ludicrous of ways.

One of the reasons for this is radiation. It is estimated that humans travelling to Mars will increase their chances of dying of cancer by possibly 19 percent, because of their much-lengthened exposure time to galactic cosmic rays. Aboard the International Space Station, two-thirds of GCR’s are blocked by the Earths mass and magnetic field. On the Apollo missions, astronauts were exposed to the absolute minimum because of the duration of the mission, which was just a short hop to the Moon. But even then, the men voiced their concerns about bright flashes of light in their eyes, now determined to have been caused by GCRs. Some of these astronauts even developed cataracts.

The effects of GCR’s over a 9 month period spent in deep space are fairly unknown, and as such the design of Avalon reflects that. The craft (minus the Mars Descent / Ascent vehicle) is almost entirely made up of reinforced polyethylene – a material also used to make garbage bags, among others. This is because plastics are rich in hydrogen, an element that is very good at absorbing radiation. In fact, polyethylene absorbs 20 percent more radiation than aluminium, which spacecraft designers have been reluctant to go without because of its known engineering properties. Fortunately, the recent upgrades to the ISS have showed us that polyethylene is an excellent choice for spacecraft design.
Also, 18 supercooled liquid hydrogen tanks surround the outside of the Crew Berthing module, for use by the main engines. Because liquid hydrogen absorbs 250 percent more radiation than aluminium pound-for-pound, combining both it and the polyethylene will go a long way towards increasing crew survivability to GCRs, bringing the increased risk of dying by cancer down from a possible 19 percent to a possible 1 percent, with an expected increase of 3.4 percent in total. Additionally, when Avalon travels from Earth to Mars, the liquid hydrogen is to be drained from the Descent / Ascent vehicles fuel tanks, and held in two flexible ‘bladders’ that will cover the entire exterior of the Crew Berthing module(s), under the supercooled tanks, which serve to cool the bladdered hydrogen to -257 degrees Celsius, 5 degrees below its boiling point. This will add yet another layer of radiation defeating liquid hydrogen defence.

[edit on 5/31/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:54 PM
Object Avoidance
More things that add to the external confusion are the Reaction Control System nacelles and radar antennas. The RCS is there for fine manoeuvring, and also to boost Avalon out of harms way in case the radar detects any incoming debris such as asteroids and meteorites. If the RCS computers deem the movement too taxing on the hydrazine propellant the RCS uses, the RCS can face the spacecraft in a direction where the main engine can propel the craft away from danger.
The radar will utilize ultra-high frequency wavelength coupled with a phased array transmitter. This allows for very quick returns, long detection ranges (in the uninhibited environment of space, up to 18, 000 kilometres), and of course the Doppler effect is incorporated. The Earth-based space object detection system ALTAIR is to be used in conjunction with the 17 onboard transmitters.

If on the off chance that an object does manage to cause damage to Avalon, the crew can evacuate to the Descent / Ascent vehicle, don spacesuits there, then perform the required repairs to the spacecraft. If the object penetrates a liquid hydrogen tank, it will take approximately one minute for that tank to drain. Avalon can complete the mission using only 15 tanks if necessary.
The Descent / Ascent vehicle can be used as an airlock for any other maintance that must be performed en route.

Berthing Module
The Crew Berthing module is where Avalons crew will spend their time docked to ISS and in transit, which totals around 11 months.

It is 28 metres (92 feet) long, has a total and constant diameter of 8.717 metres (28.56 feet), and was built at the Woomera test site with the help of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and was totally funded by Australian organizations. It has all the amenities one would expect for a year long stay, including normal showers, normal toilets, television sets with a vast range of stored movies and television programs, normal beds, an advanced communications system, an exercise area, and is divided up into four living areas.
Normal (i.e. non-suction) showers and toilets as well as lay-down beds are possible because an artificial gravitational pull has been incorporated into the whole length of the Crew Berthing module. The means to do this is one of the simplest: centrifugal force.
Geared electric motors will be working in tandem with a momentum wheel, all located at the engine end of the module, to propel each half of the Berthing module in a longitudinal spin, but in the opposite directions of each other. The momentum wheel will regulate and negitate any excess torque produced by the motors that the counter-rotating sections fail to eliminate, and if the wheel is unable to cope, the RCS system can easily be used to correct any problems.

Artificial Gravity is generally ridiculed in modern society, mainly because it is commonly portrayed in science fiction novels and films, of which usually have many other unbelievable facts, making people doubt its practical use. The fact is, centrifugal AG is practical, easy to design around, and has even been tested in a space environment before, on the Gemini 11 mission.
The externally located hydrogen tanks will not rotate with the module, both to eliminate the problems of pipeline connections, and to ensure that each of the two liquid hydrogen filled bladders remain the same temperature throughout, as well as to provide an even anti-radiation cover for all of the Berthing module, something that would not be possible if the tanks were to stay in one fixed place above the exterior.
This design also has the added bonus of making the entire ship highly stable, as the sections both act as overly-large gyroscopes.
The acceleration forces of the main engine cannot be used to provide AG because if the astronauts were to remain at 1G for the entire trip to Mars, they would get there in 2-3 days. That would require very, very powerful engines; and although Avalons main engine can provide high amounts of thrust for astonishing lengths of time, it would be unable to match the required parameters.

There are a number of problems associated with AG, the main one being the Coriolis forces. The effects of these can range from none, to dizziness, nausea and disorientation. They are caused by the rotation, and can usually be overcome at an Angular Velocity (essentially rpm) level of under 7. Above that, training and long-term adjustment has to be used to enable most people to be relatively unaffected by the forces.
The selected astronauts will spend at least 1 year training to be in a rotating environment spinning at more than 10 rpm to make sure that they do not suffer any symptoms.

On the way to and from Mars, each of the two sections of the Berthing module will spin at a rate of 10.1300 rpm, producing a gravity of 0.50014 percent of 1G – or 131.6 percent of Mars’ gravity – both to get the astronauts used to the different gravitational force of Mars, which is 38 percent of 1G (Earth’s surface gravity), and to ensure that the crew do not undergo typical muscle atrophy, bone loss and the quite literally hundreds of other health problems associated with continual exposure to micro- or zero-gravity; which include changes in heart and blood vessel function, fluid in different areas of the body compared to normal G-forces, and even a modified blood chemistry.
Muscle atrophy can lead to weakness, fatigue, an inability to perform tasks and can even cause astronauts to be unable to walk after returning to Earth after spending only 5 months in space. Bone loss increases the risk of bone fracture and kidney stones, the former so much so that astronauts returning to Earth after a long period in space have to be especially careful not to step too hard for fear of damaging their brittle bones.

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:54 PM
If the Halycon astronauts were to experience these and other zero / reduced-gravity related problems, it would bring into question their ability to perform even basic tasks on the gravitational surface of Mars. So, in addition to the artificial gravity, a pulsed electromagnetic field has been incorporated into the Berthing modules design, to further reduce the effects of a lessened G-force. The very weak, non-ionizing EM fields will exert athermal effects on the astronauts, supplementing the AG.
Another still-to-be-decided possible solution for a few of these problems is gene manipulation, where insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is inserted into the body be means of a host virus’ RNA. The IGF-1 will only singularly help in preventing muscle atrophy, but this will assist with covering any odd-spots missed by the other two methods, possibly because of the internal shape of the craft and odd movement patterns.

The combined use of these three methods will do away with the marginally effective devices used in the past such as suction-based treadmills, space boots, drugs, and electrical stimulation.

In sharp contrast with the exterior of Avalon, the inside of the Berthing module is art deco styled, employing rich dark wood with soft ambient lighting. In fact, the original interior design proposals were based around modified business jet interiors, to give the reader an idea of the style.
As such, there is none of that white, messy, harsh, inhospitable clutter one normally associates with spacecraft. The non-invasive lighting and highly regulated air will further contributes to the atmosphere, with the latter containing natural amounts of moisture to simulate being in an on-Earth environment.
The Berthing module has been designed to be as accommodating as possible for the year or so it will be occupied.

Systems Control
The Berthing module also contains all control and communications facilities in the forward compartment (which doesn’t follow the above-mentioned styles for the sake of functionality), where the strap-seats and panels are installed. Half of the computers on board are located here as well. Such systems run from this bank include the guidance software (which will initiate course corrections to be taken by the craft when either the radio guidance systems detect an erring from the original flight path (from contact with other satellites and Earth) or when the star-scanner and sun-sensor register a value different from those pre-programmed (in either case, a ten second operation will fix the problem without the crew even being alerted)), as well as automatic communications links, main engine thrust regulation, and life support systems. The deck here could perhaps be likened to the glass cockpits of the Space Shuttles, with almost every square centimetre of space taken up by some sort of equipment.

Communication between Earth and Mars, and surface to surface units on Mars, has always been and will surely continue to be an issue. Voice communication is unlikely to work between the usually long distances between the two planets, and the local communications are subject to all sorts of unusual phenomena. It is even unknown if over-the-horizon radio is possible on Mars, as the reflective properties of the ionosphere are fairly unfamiliar even at this point in time.
All satellites that were deployed to orbit Mars in the 70’s and 80’s have radio communications abilities, but the risk of using technology 50 years old has been deemed too great for general communications, and so Avalon will be set up to receive signals from Earth and other sources and relay them down to the astronauts.
The radio guidance systems will make use of the main communications frequencies for ease-of-use, but will also have their own backup channels in case of a malfunction in the main-suite.
Aboard Avalon, whenever possible, audio and sometimes even moving image communication will be made with Earth. This will be available on 8 different channels.
Audio and particularly video links with Earth will become increasingly harder to establish one the craft is beyond 2, 000, 000 kilometres distant. In this case, satellites may be used to boost the signal, such as other planetary orbiters, but these will only increase signal quality an estimated 50 percent at the best of times. As such, relatively primitive methods such as typing out messages – and even Morse code if the situation gets extreme – are to be used for general human-to-human communication.

On Earth, 3 Deep Space Communications Complexes backed by 3 Deep Space Network Stations – otherwise known as 'wing stations' – will be used to track, transmit and receive all information to and from Avalon. Surface-based facilities are located in Australia, Spain and the U.S.

Solid waste products from the crew will be freeze-dried and then disposed of into space at a fairly good speed as to not foul-up the craft. Liquid waste products will be filtered down to water level, and then added to the storage container.

The Halycon teams are divided on the issue of disposing of other waste products, such as packaging. Some advocate just tossing all waste overboard (so to speak), saying that the vastness of space is unlimited, and the effects of a few plastic bags are negligible. Others say that while bio-waste is acceptable, such things as plastic could have unforseen reactions if they were to enter a planets atmosphere, with the more extremist of them (Cuba and Japan, mainly) going so far as to claim that human rubbish would cause unfavourable consequences if another species were to come across it. The situation is currently unresolved. Equipment is in place for either eventuality.

Water / Consumables
Towards the engine end of the rotational section of the Berthing Module will be the water storage tank. It will hold 15 square metres of temperature regulated distilled liquid water. A single human drinks approximately 1, 000 litres (264 U.S. gallons) of water annually, so this will leave around 9 tonnes of spare water for the engines and whatever else on and in Avalon that requires water. The 15 tonnes of distilled water will be flown up to the ISS bit-by-bit on all of the OSP missions minus the last one.

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:54 PM
Avalon will be carrying 4 tonnes of consumables for astronaut nutrition for the 9 month long flight. The menu will be on an almost monthly cycle, with meals being repeated every 27 days. The crew will be encouraged to ‘spice’ their food up with additions of their own, possibly from the food-bearing plants they will grow in the Berthing module and the huge stocks of dried spices.
The food is packaged somewhat like the ISS satchels, and most of it will need to be hydrated before consumption. It will be stored in the non-rotating part of the Berthing module.
As the nutritional value of food is so important to health, and particularly that of astronauts, every item will be extensively reviewed before the OSP launch; with nutritional values, sensory evaluation, storage studies, packaging evaluations and many other requirements looked at in minute detail, as it was years ago for the Shuttle and ISS.

The Berthing module will also contain medical facilities and equipment to measure such things as gains in height, weight and girth, blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing rate, reflexes, sight, hearing, urine, saliva, hair, breast abnormalities (if necessary), blood testing, blood gas evaluation, and temperature, as well as a whole host of others. All crew members are to be accomplished medics, with at least two qualified to perform surgery. All necessary surgical equipment is on board. Three advanced medical kits are stowed away aboard the Descent / Ascent vehicle.

Mars Descent / Ascent Vehicle & Payloads Module
The Mars Descent / Ascent vehicle is 7 metres long, and when combined with the Payloads module will be 11 metres long in total. It is to be used to ferry the crew from Avalon, to the Martian surface, and back to Avalon.
All six astronauts are travelling to the Martian surface as the mission must be completed in 3 days, or else Avalon will miss its return window.

Its main engine will be a tri-propellant liquid chemical rocket; which essentially means that instead of using two chemicals as in a normal rocket such as hydrogen peroxide and gasoline, it uses an oxidizer and two other compounds, and is able to switch between these two compounds when different sorts of thrust are required. This will combine the benefits of a multi-stage rocket engine in one stage, thus limiting design problems (a single tri-propellant rocket is 50 percent less complicated than two bi-propellant s) and will reduce the total number of fuel tanks, which is vital with small atmospheric descent vehicles, due to hazards, space conservation, and potential damage. The tri-propellant chemical rocket will use liquid oxygen, kerosene and liquid hydrogen, with the kerosene being used only for the launch off the Martian surface.
It will be constructed in Russia, because the Soviet Union made some major advances in tri-propellant rocketry during the Cold War, and as such the current Russians have experience with this sort of engine.

Payloads Module
The payloads module will hold all samples, instruments and other equipment in easy-to-access, well supported individual racks that are going to be protected by the single layer of outside casing, which can be removed in sections once access is required. It will hold up to 3 tonnes of equipment, which will include a compact motorbike for quick travel across the surface, much to the astronauts’ initial amusement.

Click on image to see full size.

Mars Descent / Ascent Vehicle & Payloads Module Mission Summary
The Descent / Ascent vehicle will be attached to the Berthing module via a crawl-way that leads to a hatch in the Descent / Ascent vehicles side. Once the crew is properly strapped into their seats in the vehicle, they will disengage from Avalon, move a safe distance away, and then activate the main engine with just the LOX and LH2. They will then travel to the correct atmospheric entry point, and then enter Mars’ atmosphere. Once the majority of heat has dissipated from the entry phase, the Payloads module will breakaway from the Descent / Ascent vehicle, deploying its own steerable parachutes. The Descent / Ascent vehicle will first drop its heat shield, then deploy speed brakes and then overly-large parachutes to slow itself down. It will touch the surface descending at a maximum rate of 3 metres per second. Airbags inflated with stored nitrogen (used in car airbags) will inflate just prior to touchdown, and will provide a soft landing for the craft no matter what the surface. There is a chance the craft may roll once the solid parts of the craft touch down, but this can be corrected as above mentioned in the very unlikely event that it occurs, considering the number of computers controlling the touchdown.
Once safely on the surface, the crew will exit the craft, remove the deflated airbags, and activate the levelling plate, which will move the craft so that it is exactly vertical; which will facilitate with such things as take-off, photography, entry / exit of the craft and identifying whether or not the craft has settled or not.
The Payloads module will touch down within 200 metres of the Descent / Ascent vehicle. If by some small chance it descends directly down on top of the Descent / Ascent vehicle, a thruster on its side will kick in, swinging the craft a safe distance to the side on the long parachute suspension lines.
It will touch down on 14 industrial grade springs, which in turn back onto a collapsible partition. The shock would nary be enough to break a vial.

Upon takeoff from Mars, the crew will leave the Payloads module and base plate on the planet. The Descent / Ascent vehicle will use LOX and kerosene to reach an initial escape velocity of 5.03 kilometres per second, or 11,232 mph. The kerosene will be replaced by LH2 at an altitude of just above approximately 10 kilometres. The vehicle will travel back to Avalon on LOX and LH2.
To prevent the LH2 from boiling on Mars’ surface and in the transit stages, an advanced and highly effective low power consumption bank of air conditioners are going to be employed, running off carbon nanotube batteries, which have over twice the life of your average lithium-ion cell. These will be charged on Earth and continually topped-up on the trip to Mars by Avalons main engine. The same bank will be used to charge all on board and off board systems concerned with the Descent / Ascent vehicles operations on the surface.

[edit on 5/31/2006 by cmdrkeenkid]

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:54 PM
Personnel Equipment
On the surface of Mars the pressure equals approximately 1 percent of what it is on Earth, requiring astronauts to wear pressure suits. Oxygen masks will also be required as the level of O2 at the surface is far less than that of Earth. Therefore, an oxygen tank and regulation system has been designed to accommodate the different atmosphere, and will provide breathable air to the astronaut for up to 6-7 hours. As pure oxygen can cause such complications as hyperoxia when breathed for extended periods of time, the oxygen content of the air will be reduced to 23 percent, to be mixed with filtered Martian atmospheric gases such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which are found in our own atmosphere.
The overall weight of the equipment the astronauts will be required to carry will be approximately 30 kilograms, which will feel more like 11 kg with Mars’ reduced gravitational pull.

On the surface of Mars, astronauts will receive approximately 22 millirads per day, depending on local magnetic fluxes. While this is well within the missions acceptable limits, there is the chance that a solar proton event will expose the crew to levels that are deemed lethal. The crew would be required to take cover in an event like this; but cover is useless without an early warning system. The Solaris satellites, launched by the European Space Agency 4 years ago, are well suited to warn of SPEs ejected in the direction of Mars, as they are a system of satellites orbiting the sun. The astronauts would immediately be warned by automatic dispatches from the actual orbiting satellites, as the delay it would take to send the signals back to Earth – which could be in the reverse direction – would expose the astronauts to too much radiation. Shelter from SPEs would involve getting under the LH2 tank.

Avalon Main Engines
For most of the trip, Avalon will be using its main engine to provide both thrust and electrical power to the craft.

The engine is a rocket engine, but not your ‘normal’ chemical type, such as the one on the Descent / Ascent vehicle. It is going to use a technology that has been around since the 50’s (Projects Nerva / Rover / Orion), called a nuclear thermal rocket.
A standard chemical rocket uses one or more chemicals to heat up a gas / liquid to high temperatures, where thermal expansion kicks in, causing the now-gas to shoot out the back of the engine, providing a given but limited amount of thrust. A nuclear thermal rocket does away with the chemical reaction that is required to heat the propellant up. It merely uses the heat of its fission reactions to raise the temperature of the propellant, which is in this case hydrogen.

The nuclear thermal rocket is not widely known to even exist by the majority of people, because it is a suppressed technology, rather like free-energy.
Ever since the 1970’s, when practical applications and testing methods for the design were realized, people have protested the NTR because they believe that the placement of a nuclear reactor in space by a superpower would be the second major step (the first being Sputnik 1) of the militarization of space. A lot of Halycons design team also believe this to have held some truth. But a NTR, in the past, could only have been built and deployed by either the U.S.A. or the U.S.S.R. Project Halycon has changed all this.
No longer is just a superpower capable of constructing and deploying a reactor in space; the ability is now in the hands of any country on Earth, if that country is willing to work with other nations on the project, and Halycon is the first example of this.

The sheer amount of propellants required to get Avalon moving, stopping, moving again, and then stopping again would be beyond the capabilities of the Orbital Space Planes carrying capacity. Other alternatives were looked at before NTRs were seriously considered, including ion thrusters, lasers, electromagnetic acceleration, solar sails and even nuclear pulse propulsion to name but a few, but eventually the original student proposed nuclear thermal rocketry.

A NTR cannot be properly utilized to lift the craft off the surface of Earth and into orbit because it does not have a high enough thrust-to-weight ratio. Most have an average of 8 (or so) to 1, not nearly the 94.07 to 1 that Saturn V had. This means that to exploit the traits of the NTR to the greatest extent, it must be started when already in orbit. A NTR can burn as long as there is a propellant it can heat up, which can be years. Saturn V’s first stage had a burn time of 150 seconds.

The design of NTR chosen for the Avalons engines is an open-cycle counter flow-toroidal gas cored thermal reactor rocket of the ‘nuclear lightbulb’ sub-variant type.
There were quite a few other designs looked at, but the gas core provided the highest specific impulse – a performance parameter of rocket systems used to measure the thrust-producing energy content of the propellant (i.e. the higher the specific impulse, the less propellant is needed to perform the mission), around the order of 5, 000 seconds (compared the Solid Rocket Boosters of the Space Shuttle, which had an Isp of around 250), and it is also much safer than the solid core designs because the non-solid nuclear material can actually be removed from the core of the reactor if necessary.
A GCNR rocket uses the expended heat of a gaseous fission reaction to heat up a propellant. Heat transfer is radiated, the same sort you get from sitting in front of a fire; but much, much hotter. Radiative heat transfer is vastly more efficient than pure conduction and/or conduction & convection designs, because fissile material is not lost while the propellant is being heated up, and the design can run very hot. To give you an idea of how hot a GCNR can run, imagine a piece of metal being heated up. It goes from dark cold, to red hot, then to white hot. A CGNR goes from cold, to red, to white, and then continues on heating until the emitted rays are not visible light any more, but are deep into the hard ultraviolet spectrum. Yes, hot.

Additionally, the open cycle design was chosen over the closed-cycle because the technologies to build the materials of the inner heat transfer partition the latter requires just aren’t around yet. A counter flow-toroidal shaped core was deemed the best design as it lost less propellant compared to the cylindrical and toroidal designs, providing an even better specific impulse rate, and the ‘nuclear lightbulb’ sub-variant means that the fissile material is held in an actual lightbulb shape of ultraviolet-transparent fused silica, which contains the fissile material - in this case Uranium Fluoride gas (UF4) - and stops is from mixing with the propellant (this is where the radiated heat transfer comes in).

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:55 PM
A gas cored NTR is better than solid core NTRs because it can cope with much higher temperatures, since the hottest part of the reactor, the gas core, is distanced from the structural components most immediately susceptible to heat – mainly the reactor vessel wall and the engine nozzle – hence the higher specific impulse. This is the main reason for the team choosing to go with a gas cored NTR. The OSP missions of course have a maximum weight, and although hydrogen is light, it is not at all dense, which means that the containers required to store it in are overly large. Because of this, anything with a specific impulse of below 2-3, 000 seconds would have run out of hydrogen fuel by the time it had to come back to Earth because of these OSP limitations.

Another plus of using a NTR is that the hydrogen propellant acts as a neutron moderator, supplementing the beryllium oxide, pressure cell and radial first wall in stopping dangerous radiation escaping the vessel.

If the reactor ever has to be shut down mid-flight for some unforseen reason, the carbon-nanotube batteries aboard the Mars Descent / Ascent vehicle can provide power to all essential systems for up to 7 months, although this event is highly unlikely to happen, given the robustness and safety of the reactor itself.

The engine will not be required to output its total maximum thrust capacity at any time in the mission, for reasons of crew comfort. If the thermal rocket were to operate at 100 percent thrust, the crew would, even with the artificial gravity, notice a pull back towards the rear of the module. By operating the engine at 75 percent, a more-than-satisfactory thrust is attained while the crew will notice only minor alterations to what should be the norm.

In addition to large amounts of steady thrust, a nuclear reactor on board the ship guarantees an almost unlimited power source, far more than generators, batteries, and those bulky fuel cells requiring precious oxygen and hydrogen could ever produce. Electrical power will be extracted from the engine using combined magneto hydrodynamic-thermodynamic cycles. Magnetic turbines are just about the only power generators that can operate safely at temperatures above 1, 500°C.
This single fact alone ensures that the crew will be able to enjoy amenities like proper environmental systems, entertainment systems, reliable and powerful communications gear, and of course not having to worry about lack of O2 to run the cells, or how much charge is left in the batteries.


MTM-1 is the forbearer of things to come.
It is the first international project where more than 5 nations have worked together towards a common space-based goal; it is the first major multi-nation funded project where students have been allowed to learn and contribute, it is the first space-based government funded project that has fallen far short of budget limits, and it has been the first space project initiated by a student. It is also the first major Australian space-exploration based project.

It has caused international co-operation to move to new heights, especially in this time when peace is just beginning to break out in Africa and the Mid-East, and is responsible for many new international relations.

Project Halycon is the future.

/Report end

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Hope you had a good read!

posted on May, 31 2006 @ 10:55 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!

posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 01:35 AM
I hereby stop working on my entry, LOL.



posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 03:08 AM
Give me about a week to read through this.

Originally posted by SteveR
I hereby stop working on my entry, LOL.


haha no kidding.

posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 01:26 PM
Maybe we could just read the cliff notes version of it

posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 02:42 PM
first thing that comes to mind is feck this dude has alot of time on his/her hands

seriously though we have a winner here

[edit on 1-6-2006 by bodrul]


posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 06:06 PM
Lots of nice detail in this write up. I wish I could go back and expand on mine, but oh well

Also, there is the distinct possibility that liquid water may exist at the very deep centre of the crater when temperatures are above zero centigrade and approaching normal Earth air pressure.

The air pressure is indeed stronger the deeper you go on Mars, but I wouldn't consider it to be even close to approaching normal Earth air pressure. It only gets to about 0.84kPa, but that's just a nit pick though.

Other then that it all looks good to me.

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