Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Forum Members: Let's come up with a design for a Mars Spacecraft,;any IDEAS?

  1. Jan 15, 2004 #1
    What type of Spacecraft would you design and what propulsion system would you use? Her are my thoughts, what are your? Can we, as Forum members, pool our ideas and come up with a feasible design? I say, let's try.
    1. Crew size:
    1. Commander and Pilot.
    2. Spacecraft Systems Officer.
    3. Medical Officer.
    4. Communications Specialist.
    5. Payload Officer.
    6. Recycling and environmental Specialist.
    2. Propulsion System:
    1. Nuclear
    3. Target velocity of Craft:
    1. 160,000 KPH
    4. Surface exploration duration:
    1. 15 days5.
    5. I envision the Spacecraft Systems Officer also as Orbiter
    Pilot along with #6 and #4.
    6. The surface team would be #1, #3, #5.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2004 #2
    I dunno about the details, but it would definately have to be a battle bot, you know, one that can combat the evil martian robots. Make it safe for humans ya know...
  4. Jan 15, 2004 #3
    I am not 100% certain of this, but even though NASA has drawn plans for a spaceship powered by nuclear thrust, I believe that the idea is considered far too dangerous for actual use. And, the highly radioactive "cloud" left behind during travel would be potentially lethal to other space travellers.
    It seems that, with respect to propulsion, a good candidate is a hybrid of conventional and ion thrust.
    Food, fuel and other supplies would be best replenished by preemptive placement at strategic intervals between here and Mars, likely done through unmanned ships. This would be for both the trip to and from Mars. Similarly, these supplies should also be preemptively shipped to Mars itself.
    Most, if not all, crew members would need to be extensively cross-trained over several years so that, for example, each could function effectively as the pilot, or medic, or navigation officer as the need arises.
    Upon arrival to Mars, the ship should have the capability of doing two things: One, the ship should be designed so that part of it stays in orbit of Mars and a "landing craft" sent to the surface(similar to the Moon landing projects) and Two: the "mother ship" must have a second landing craft for emergency retrieval of surface astronauts in the event of first landing craft return failure or other issues.
    On Mars, the priority of the astronauts should not be merely "exploring", as robotic craft can do that, but should very much include establishing the foundations of a landing colony area for subsequent missions.

    Just some thoughts.
  5. Jan 15, 2004 #4
    Real good ideas. Let's everyone keep expanding on these ideas, then later, we can start going into details.
  6. Jan 25, 2004 #5
    Why does there have to be so many people onboard?

    Couldn't we sub-down a bit? Have several computer systems take control of many of the operations?

    It sure would cut down on space, food storage, personell, oxygen requirements, etc...

    The craft would be smaller, weigh less, and would be easier to move around without so much mass.
  7. Jan 26, 2004 #6
    Exactly, I know how at least two of those positions can be eliminated. First both payload and space systems duties can be transferred to an onboard engineer. Second, recyling can be computerized.

    I'll post ideas for the actual design of the craft later.
  8. Jan 30, 2004 #7
    What type of engines are you thinking of using on this; Newtonian or "something else"? ;)

    If 'something else', here’s an idea I'm already trying to design:

    Attached Files:

  9. Feb 16, 2004 #8
    Send a probe ahead.
    The probe would have:
    1. Solar cells
    2. Colany of Blue-green alge (to transform Co2 (from marsian atmosphere) into O2)
    3. UV lights (to 'feed' alge)
    4. Tanks to store the O2
    5.Temperature control, to keep the alge comfortable.
    (collect oxygen from the probe, use dead alge to grow food)

    You should also send all the modules (self-assembling) before the people arrive, this would mean that when the people arrive- there is a self-sustaining coleny already.
  10. Mar 6, 2004 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I could easily be wrong, but I thought I read in the paper some years ago that there was an International treaty banning the launch of nuclear material. But maybe the U.S. does not consider it binding? I am almost certain that some NASA unmanned spacecraft have had modest-sized power generators that rely on the heat from fissile material. Does anybody know if something as large as the nuclear propulsion unit required for this sort of manned mission to Mars would make the launching country anathema?
  11. Mar 7, 2004 #10
    The treaty was to ban all nuclear weapons in space.

    Sites of information:
    http://www.dpi.anl.gov/dpi2/hist_docs/treaties/ltbt63.htm [Broken]

    http://www.dpi.anl.gov/dpi2/hist_docs/treaties/ost67.htm [Broken]

    PAROS Initiative

    If the fissible material is not for a weapon then it is permissable for use in space. NASA and the RSA both have nuclear-powered (RTG) space vehicles.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  12. Mar 7, 2004 #11


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Okay, I stand corrected. I do remember there was some protest when one of the probes to Jupiter was about to be launched, for fear that it might drop into the Atlantic Ocean and leave its radioisotope power generator in the water.
  13. Mar 8, 2004 #12


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Slightly different issue: environmentalism (misplaced). The Russians did have a nuclear powered satellite crash - the power cells survived intact.

    Also, there was a fun conspiracy theory that when that probe dropped into Jupiter (last winter), the plutonium would blow up like a bomb, acting as a thermonuclear trigger igniting Jupiter as a big H-bomb. I checked last night though - Jupiter is intact.
  14. May 20, 2004 #13
    Not really, nuclear engines for use in space http://www.aemann.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/spacecraft/nerva/reactor.html and the radioactive "cloud" would not pose any danger whatsoever as that would immediately be dilluted.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  15. Jul 19, 2004 #14
    I think someone should just improve the way we launch things into space - remove the part that “explodes/crashes when a problem is found”.

  16. Jul 20, 2004 #15
    What I don't get, is this. Why can't we make a flying disc, that spins in opposition to the earth's spin, as fast as it takes to stand still, and let the earth rotate away from it? The outer skin would have to rotate in this way, the interior would stay still.
  17. Jul 21, 2004 #16
    LOL! Sorry.

    Well, in my own theories on flying disks, spinning is a key element, but not a physical spinning. End the earth’s rotation has nothing to offer. :)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook