Deep Space Transport

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Deep Space Transport
Deep Space Transport.jpg
DST would comprise an Orion capsule and a propelled habitation module
Launch datesuggested: 2027[1]
Launch vehicleSpace Launch System
Launch siteLC-39B, Kennedy Space Center
Mission duration1–3 years
Flyby ofVenus[1]
Current destinationMoon, Mars, an asteroid[3]
MassHabitat: 48 tons (includes 21 tons Habitat with 26.5 tons cargo[2])
Electric propulsion system: 24 tons[2]
Chemical propellant: 16 tons[2]
TranspondersDual: radio and laser comm[1][4]
BandwidthKa band[4]

The Deep Space Transport (DST), also called Mars Transit Vehicle,[4] is a crewed interplanetary spacecraft concept by NASA to support science exploration missions to Mars of up to 1,000 days.[1][5][6] It would be composed of two elements: an Orion capsule and a propelled habitation module.[7] As of April 2018, the DST is still a concept to be studied, and NASA has not officially proposed the project in an annual U.S. federal government budget cycle.[8][9]

The DST vehicle would depart and return from the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G) to be serviced and reused for a new Mars mission.[5][10][11]

Architecture overview[edit]

Both the Gateway and the DST would be fitted with the International Docking System Standard.[5] The DST spacecraft would comprise two elements: an Orion capsule and a habitation module[7] that would be propelled by both electric propulsion and chemical propulsion, and carry a crew of four in a medium-sized habitat.[1] The fully assembled spacecraft with the Orion capsule mated, would have a mass of about 100 metric tones.[5][2][7] The spacecraft's habitat portion will likely be fabricated using tooling and structures developed for the SLS propellant tank;[12] it would be 8.4 m (28 ft) in diameter and 11.7 m (38 ft) in length.[12]

The habitat portion of the DST spacecraft may also be equipped with a laboratory with research instrumentation for physical sciences, electron microscopy, chemical analyses, freezers, medical research, small live animal quarters, plant growth chambers, and 3-D printing.[12] External payloads might include cameras, telescopes, detectors, and a robotic arm.[12]

When performing a lunar flyby for increased velocity, the initial target for exploration is Mars (flyby or orbit), and other suggested destinations are Venus (flyby or orbit), and a sample return from a large asteroid.[3] If the DST spacecraft was to orbit Mars, it would enable opportunities for real-time remote operation of equipment on the Martian surface, such as a human-assisted Mars sample return.[3] Patrick Troutman serves as the lead for strategic assessments for the Deep Space Transport and the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.[13]

Suggested timeline[edit]

Fully assembled Estimated mass[2][4]
(metric tons)
Orion capsule
(launched separately)
Habitat 21.9
Cargo 26.5
Electric propulsion system
including Xenon propellant
Chemical propellant 16
Estimated total 98.7

If funded, the DST would be launched toward the Lunar Gateway in one SLS cargo flight,[5] probably in 2027.[1] The spacecraft is expected to undergo 100-300 days of DST Habitat crewed operation before[7] it starts a one-year long flight test (shakedown cruise) in cislunar space in 2029.[1][5] It is expected to start a crewed mission to orbit Mars, but not land, in 2033.[1] Its first mission would likely involve a Venus flyby and a short stay around Mars.[4] Additional developments and vehicles would be required for a Mars human surface mission.[7]

Year Vehicle assembly objective Mission name Launch vehicle Human/robotic elements
2022 Start of Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway assembly by launching the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)[14] EM-2 Space Launch System, Block 1B Crewed
2024 Deep Space Habitat module launch and mating to PPE in cislunar space[15] EM-3 Space Launch System, Block 1B Crewed
2025 Habitat and logistics resupply[16] EM-4 Space Launch System, Block 1B Crewed
2026 Orion capsule (crew 4) delivers the airlock module to the Gateway EM-5 Space Launch System, Block 1B Crewed
2027 Deep Space Transport (DST) to the Lunar Gateway[1] EM-6 Space Launch System, Block 1B Uncrewed
2027 DST checkout mission[1] EM-7 Space Launch System, Block 1B Crewed
2028 DST Cargo logistics and refuelling[1] EM-8 Space Launch System, Block 1B Uncrewed
2029 DST one year cruise test (shakedown cruise) in cislunar space[1] EM-9 Space Launch System Crewed
2030 Cargo DST logistics and refuelling mission[1] EM-10 Space Launch System Uncrewed
2033 DST cruise for injection into Mars orbit[1] EM-11 Space Launch System Crewed

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Finally, some details about how NASA actually plans to get to Mars. Eric Berger, ARS Technica. March 28, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Deep Space Transport (DST) and Mars Mission Architecture. (PDF) John Connolly. NASA Mars Study Capability Team. Published: October 17, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c MacDonald, Alexander C. (2017). Towards an Interplanetary Spaceship: The Potential Role of Long-Duration Deep Space Habitation and Transportation in the Evolution and Organization of Human Spaceflight and Space Exploration (PDF). AIAA SPACE and Astronautics Forum and Exposition. September 12–14, 2017. Orlando, Florida. AIAA 2017-5100.
  4. ^ a b c d e Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate - Architecture Status. (PDF) Jim Free. NASA. March 28, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f NASA Unveils the Keys to Getting Astronauts to Mars and Beyond. Neel V. Patel, The Inverse. April 4, 2017.
  6. ^ Deep Space Transport approaches the Deep Space Gateway. The Planetary Society.
  7. ^ a b c d e Deep Space Gateway -Enabling Missions to Mars — Shakedown Cruise Simulating Key Segments of Mars Orbital Mission. Mars Study Capability Team (2018). Michelle Rucker, John Connolly. NASA.
  8. ^ Cislunar station gets thumbs up, new name in President’s budget request. Philip Sloss, NASA Spaceflight. March 16, 2018.
  9. ^ NASA evaluates EM-2 launch options for Deep Space Gateway PPE. Philip Sloss, NASA Spaceflight. December 4, 2017.
  10. ^ Kathryn Hambleton. "Deep Space Gateway to Open Opportunities for Distant Destinations". NASA. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  11. ^ Robyn Gatens, Jason Crusan. "Cislunar Habitation & Environmental Control & Life Support System" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d Smitherman, David; Needham, Debra; Lewis, Ruthan (February 28, 2018). Research Possibilities Beyond Deep Space Gateway (PDF). Deep Space Gateway Concept Science Workshop. February 27-March 1, 2018. Denver, Colorado.
  13. ^ Gillard, Eric (April 25, 2018). "NASA Langley Talk to Highlight Sending Humans to the Deep Space Gateway" (Press release). NASA. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  14. ^ Daines, Gary (December 1, 2016). "Crew Will Mark Important Step on Journey to Mars". Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  15. ^ Foust, Jeff (March 10, 2017). "NASA moving ahead with plans for cislunar human outpost". SpaceNews. Pocket Ventures, LLC. Archived from the original on March 11, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  16. ^ Gebhardt, Chris (April 6, 2017). "NASA finally sets goals, missions for SLS – eyes multi-step plan to Mars". Retrieved August 21, 2017.

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