Evolutionary Scenarios for the Human Exploration of Mars

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B. Parkinson (2005), JBIS, 58, 201-205

Refcode: 2005.58.201
Keywords: Mars exploration, Mars mission infrastructures

Abstract:
Human Mars missions will require the development of 4 - 6 different major transport elements. Launch opportunities occur only at 2-year intervals, with missions taking up to three years plus the time required to assemble the required hardware in Earth orbit. Some of the elements can be tested in Earth orbit or on the Moon, but some will require demonstration at Mars before any human expedition. The first human mission may stay only a brief period on the Martian surface, being principally concerned with achieving a landing and successful return. Subsequent missions will require a substantial surface infrastructure to be delivered, to take advantage of an extended stay on Mars (up to 500 days) to perform an extensive exploration of the planet. Transport elements must therefore have the capacity to support an evolving capability with each mission. Scenarios are proposed following the development of a human Mars mission capability from initial element flight demonstration to the establishment of a permanent research base on Mars. A key feature appears to be to provide the first mission with excess capability and to use this capability on subsequent missions to deliver the support hardware required for extended stays. An additional “pinch point” exists in the capability to deliver equipment from Mars orbit to the surface.

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