Posted by pwl on July 22, 2009
Mars Direct is a proposal for a relatively low-cost manned mission to Mars with current rocket technology. The plan was originally detailed in a research paper by Robert Zubrin and David Baker in 1990. The mission was expanded upon in Zubrin’s 1996 book The Case for Mars.
The plan involves launching an unmanned “Earth Return Vehicle” (ERV) directly from Earth’s surface to Mars using a heavy-lift booster derived from Space Shuttle components. The booster is no bigger than the Saturn V used for the Apollo missions. Several launches are made in preparation for the manned mission.
The first of these launches the ERV, a supply of hydrogen, a chemical plant and a small nuclear reactor. Once there, a relatively simple set of chemical reactions (the Sabatier reaction coupled with electrolysis) would combine a small amount of hydrogen carried by the ERV with the carbon dioxide of the Martian atmosphere to create up to 112 tonnes of methane and oxygen propellants, 96 tonnes of which would be needed to return the ERV to Earth at the end of the mission. This process would take approximately ten months to complete.
Some 26 months after the ERV is originally launched from Earth, a second vehicle, the “Mars Habitat Unit” (MHU), would be launched on a high-energy transfer to Mars carrying a crew of four. This vehicle would take some six months to reach Mars. During the trip, artificial gravity would be generated by tying the spent upper stage of the booster to the Habitat Unit, and setting them both rotating about a common axis.
On reaching Mars, the spent upper stage would be jettisoned, with the Habitat Unit aerobraking into Mars orbit before soft-landing in proximity to the ERV. Once on Mars, the crew would spend 18 months on the surface, carrying out a range of scientific research, aided by a small rover vehicle carried aboard their MHU, and powered by excess methane produced by the ERV. To return, they would use the ERV, leaving the MHU for the possible use of subsequent explorers. The propulsion stage of the ERV would be used as a counterweight to generate artificial gravity for the trip back.
The initial cost estimate for Mars Direct was put at $55 billion, to be paid over ten years.
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Posted by pwl on April 11, 2009
Very cool stuff. The resemblance isn’t too bad either!
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Posted by pwl on April 4, 2009
Posted in Bad Ideas, Bad Science, Belief Stricken, Biology, Business, Complex Systems, Ethics in Science, Exercise for the Reader (that's you), Hard Science, Hard Science Required, Health, Human|Ape, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Invisible Friend Crowd, It's a good thing that your god(s) die with you, Philosophy, Politics, Proofs, Proofs Needed, Rational Thinking, Scams, Science Education, Science Info Educational Videos, Video, Yikes! | Leave a Comment »
Posted by pwl on March 20, 2009
“I’m always looking for a new idea that will be more productive than its cost.” — David Rockefeller
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Posted by pwl on March 18, 2009
The Rules of Acquisition, in the fictional Star Trek universe, are a set of guidelines intended to ensure the profitability of businesses owned by the ultra-capitalist Ferengi. The first rule was made by Gint, the first Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance. The title of “Rules of Acquisition” was chosen as a clever marketing ploy (since the rules are merely guidelines) and Gint numbered his first rule as #162, in order to create a demand for the other 161 Rules that had yet to be written. The Rules are said to be divinely inspired and sacred, and thus are the closest thing to a religion for Ferengi society. The “profit-obsessed” Ferengi believe that once their dead bodies have been vacuum-desiccated — and sliced remains sold to the highest bidders — their souls go to a “Divine Treasury” where they are held accountable for their adherence to the rules.
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