|Work done in Russia in preparation for
a Martian mission
(42 590 bytes)
Engineering experiments aimed at testing and developing
engineering solutions for a future interplanetary vehicle
were a prominent activity during missions of Salyut and
Mir space stations. On these space stations, large truss
structures were deployed, various materials and surfaces
were exposed to space environment, closed water and oxygen
loops life support systems were tested, etc.
An important result of the work done on the space stations
was the development of equipment supporting long-duration
manned space missions and a test of the human body responses
to such a mission. Such a work could only be done on-board
Today, it can be stated that we have already traveled a
considerable part of the way towards organizing the first
manned mission to Mars.
| Areas of activities
|| Completed work
| Energia launch vehicle
|| Developed in 1987. It has passed developmental
| In-orbit assembly scheme
|| A system for assembling
the vehicle elements has passed developmental tests.
More than 200 dockings were performed.
| Truss deployment experiments
|| Experiments with various
truss and reflector shapes were conducted on-board Salyut
| Film-type solar array
|| A thin-film solar array
with amorphous silicon (20 microns thick) was exposed
to space environment on Mir space station
| Prototype modules
|| A line of prototype Martian
modules delivered to a space station on Progress spacecraft
has been developed. The first Module-M is in the test
| Electrical rocket engines
|| DAS engines have been developed.
Engine DAS-55 operated in orbit (STEX)
| Life support systems
|| Closed oxygen and water
loop systems have been developed.
| Control systems
|| Multi-computer systems
have been built and developed, prototype systems exist.
| Experience in long-duration
|| A procedure for long-duration
mission support has been developed, there have been
several missions lasting longer than 1-1.5 years.
vehicle Energia before its lift-off (1987)
|A docking of Progress spacecraft with
Mir space station
(82 159 bytes)
|A Space Shuttle docking with Mir space
(77 326 bytes)
|Development of long-duration missions
on space stations Salyut and Mir
(19 694 bytes)
At present, launch vehicles have been developed that are
capable of putting into a low Earth orbit individual parts
of the Martian vehicle. It would require, for example, 6-7
launches of Energia- or Saturn 5B-class launch vehicles.
An automatic docking system has been developed which will
allow to incrementally assemble individual parts of the
vehicle into an integrated structure..
Such system has already been used in about 150 automatic
dockings with Salyut and Mir space station.
The space stations were used to study human body behavior
when exposed to long-term spaceflight environments, to develop
life support systems with closed oxygen and water loops.
That is, the systems where oxygen and water consumed by
the crew are recovered for re-use after special physical
and chemical processing.
The experience of a long-duration manned space flight already
exists. Three cosmonauts worked on-board Mir for about 1
year, while cosmonaut and physician Valeri Polyakov has
completed a mission to the space station lasting for almost
a year and a half, during which medical research important
for future interplanetary missions was conducted.
Film-type solar arrays also exist. In October 1998, cosmonauts
placed on the outside surface of Mir space station some
samples of film-type solar array, which constitutes a key
element of the Martian vehicle, in order to study how they
are affected by actual space environments. These samples
have been returned to Earth and are being studied. But it's
not too early to say that the results look good.
Electrical rocket engines are widely used in space technology,
and anode layer engines (of the DAS type) look very promising
for use in the Martian vehicle from the standpoint of their
service life, specific impulse and reliability. These Russian
engines have been flight-tested in orbit on the US STEX
Space stations Salyut and Mir provided an experience in
the deployment of long truss structures, which are required
as a base to support film-like solar arrays (trusses Mayak,
Rapana, Sofora and other). No serious problems are foreseen
for the deployment of 300-meter trusses.
The least developed element of the interplanetary vehicle
system is the landing and ascent spacecraft. Development
of such a spacecraft is a complex but feasible engineering
problem. The experience in landing robotic spacecraft on
the planet exists, and this experience can be used for the
development of manned landers as well. There is also an
experience in astronauts' landing on and taking off from
the lunar surface under Apollo program which should also
be used in the development of the Martian mission elements.
|Experimental film-type solar
(49 898 bytes)
|Tests of an anode layer
electrical rocket engine
of various designs for transformable
truss structures for solar arrays
(118 635 bytes)