Fed2 Star - the newsletter for the space trading game Federation 2

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by ibgames

EARTHDATE: August 4, 2013

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by Hazed

Missions to Mars have been in the news lately, with private companies hatching plans to send a married couple to orbit the planet and then return, and a reality TV show involving a one-way trip for colonists.

But what about a proper mission, that lands people on Mars and then brings them home again? What would be involved?

Imperial College London has collaborated with the BBC to design a mission to do just that. Their plan has a three-person crew in a craft with two parts. The ship would rotate to provide artificial gravity during the trip, and would have a heat shield to protect against solar flares.

The ship would consist of a Martian lander, equipped with the heat shield, and a habitat module. Astronauts would sit in the lander during takeoff from Earth and then once in orbit would move into the lander for the journey. This part of the ship would be a cylinder, split into three floors, about 30 foot high and 12 foot in diameter.

Once underway, the lander and habitat would separate from each other, unwinding on a steel cable to a distance of about 180 feet. This would then provide enough distance for a gentle spin to give the feeling of gravity, thus helping to prevent the muscle and bone problems caused by weightlessness.

On arrival at Mars the tether would be wound back in to reattach the two parts of the ships, so the crew could move into the lander again to descend to the planet’s surface.

The key to the success of this mission is that both a habitat module, in which the crew would live while on Mars, and their return vehicle to boost them back into Martian orbit, would be sent to the planet in advance. The return vehicle would be fueled by water ice found on the planet, mined by robots.

Once in orbit the return vehicle would dock with the cruise vessel, taking the place of the original lander and using the same spinning tethered mechanism during the flight home to Earth. When it got back to Earth orbit, the ship would dock with the ISS and then take a Soyuz capsule home.

This whole plan has been extremely well thought out, with every aspect of the crew’s journey to and from the planet, and their stay on the surface, considered. There’s a lot more detail at the first source link below, and a series of videos at the second.

If only it was easy to get to Mars in real life as it is in Fed DataSpace!

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22952441
Videos: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23349496

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