Austere Human Missions to Mars

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Concept for NASA human Mars mission. On the far left an independent ascent stage, on the right a surface stay habitat and Manned/Pressurized Mars rover

Austere Human Missions to Mars was a vision for a human mission to Mars by the United States space agency, NASA.[1] Released in 2009, it proposed a modified and even less costly version of DRA 5.0, itself a combination of nearly 20 years of Mars planning design work.[1] The mission profile was for a conjunction class with a long surface stay, pre-deployed cargo, aerocapture and propulsive capture, and some in-situ resource production.[1]

Technologically and financially conservative, with both peak yearly and total funding to be less than the ISS up to the first mission.[1] The plan would use standardized systems to launch a crew of 4 every four years, but accomplish the same major goals as DRA 5.0.[1] For comparison, DRA 5.0 included a crew of six.[2] Mission elements include Mars Surface Habitat, Mars Surface Power and Logistics (unmanned lander supporting other surface elements), combined Human Descent/Ascent vehicle (DAV), and Mars Transit Habitat with Earth Crew vehicle.[1] The Transit Habitat would carry the crew to Mars where it would dock with the pre-sent MAV.[1] The MAV would allow landing on the surface where crew would live in the habitat supported by the power and logistics module.[1] They would use the ascent stage to return to the Mars Transit Habitat.[1] (see also Mars Orbit Rendezvous)

A standardized LOX/LH2 propulsive stage would send each element out of Earth orbit to Mars.[1] The DAV, Mars Surface Habitat, and Cargo elements would be sent to Mars unmanned.[1] The DAV would aerocapture into Mars orbit, preparing it for rendezvous with the manned Transit Habitat.[1] The Surface Habitat and Cargo would likely do direct entry.[1] One advantage of the Descent/Ascent Vehicle or DAV (the spacecraft used for the manned landing), is that it could perform an abort to orbit.[1] A number of technologies for the descent stages were looked at especially supersonic retro-propulsion for Mars atmospheric entry, but were otherwise very traditional with a large heat shield and retro rockets for final landing.[1]

Some concepts for the Surface Habitat include an inflatable structure and using the descent propellant tanks for waste storage.[1] Estimated Mass of the Surface Habitat in the study was 52 metric tons.[1] The Power/Logistics lander had the same predicted Mass (they would weigh less on Mars than on Earth).[1] The Power/Logistic module would contain 2 Pressurized Rovers,[1] with space for 2-Crew each. The pressurized rovers would be powered by a 5 kilowatt radioisotope sterling generator on each rover.[1] The P/L module would also include 2 mobile generators for surface power, as well as additional consumables and science equipment.[1]

The surface habitat would have 2 5 kilowatt radioisotope sterling generators and an ISRU oxygen generator.[1] Unlike DRA 5.0 however, ISRU would not be used to produce propellent for the ascent into Mars orbit.[1][2]


Further reading[edit]

  • Human Missions to Mars: Comprehensive Collection of NASA Plans, Proposals, Current Thinking and Ongoing Research on Manned Mars Exploration, Robotic Precursors, Science Goals, Design Reference Mission (2012)

External links[edit]