Encyclopedia Astronautica
Design Reference Mission 3

DRM Habitat
Credit: NASA
American manned Mars expedition. Study 1996. This July 1997 DRM was a subscale version of the original, with a scrub of the original payloads to reduce mass wherever possible.

An integral pressure structure and heat shield was proposed for the lander, requiring the use of lighter composite structural materials. The stages would be launched without the spacecraft, meaning more launches would be required, but development of a monster heavy lift vehicle would not be needed. There would be 8 launches of a shuttle-derived vehicle with an 85 metric ton payload, consisting of three nuclear stages and three spacecraft on the first launch opportunity. At the next opportunity two more launches would put a fourth nuclear stage and the manned spacecraft in orbit. The total mass hurled toward Mars would be 303 metric tons, 75 metric tons less than the 1993 DRM.

In 1996 public interest in Mars was renewed by the reputed discovery of fossils of microscopic life forms in meteorite ALH 84001, believed to have been blasted off Mars and falling on the Antarctic Ice Cap. NASA responded by reviving its manned Mars study function. In July 1997 the office produced Human Exploration of Mars: Reference Mission of the NASA Mars Exploration Team, which revised 1993's Design Reference Mission 1.0 and was released to coincide with public interest as a result of the Pathfinder robot lander mission.

Design Reference Mission 3.0 Mission Summary:

  • Summary: Refine DRM 1.0 systems concepts and design; smaller class launch vehicle (80mt);source data from Borowski paper
  • Propulsion: Nuclear thermal
  • Braking at Mars: aerodynamic
  • Mission Type: conjunction
  • Split or All-Up: split
  • Launch Year: 2011
  • Crew: 6
  • Mars Surface payload-metric tons: 40
  • Outbound time-days: 150
  • Mars Stay Time-days: 610
  • Return Time-days: 120
  • Total Mission Time-days: 880
  • Total Payload Required in Low Earth Orbit-metric tons: 410
  • Total Propellant Required-metric tons: 140
  • Propellant Fraction: 0.34
  • Mass per crew-metric tons: 68
  • Launch Vehicle Payload to LEO-metric tons: 75
  • Number of Launches Required to Assemble Payload in Low Earth Orbit: 6
  • Launch Vehicle: Magnum

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Cargo Lander Reference Version 3 American manned Mars lander. Study 1993. The second version of the NASA Cargo Lander for the design reference mission 3.0 was similar in concept to the first but mass was reduced nearly 30% by a thorough study and scrub of each element. More...
  • Crew Lander Reference Version 3 American manned Mars lander. Study 1996. The second version of the NASA Crew Lander for the design reference mission would land the crew and a Mars surface habitat on the surface near the previously-landed cargo lander. More...

See also
  • Mars Expeditions Since Wernher von Braun first sketched out his Marsprojekt in 1946, a succession of designs and mission profiles were seriously studied in the United States and the Soviet Union. By the late 1960's Von Braun had come to favour nuclear thermal rocket powered expeditions, while his Soviet counterpart Korolev decided that nuclear electric propulsion was the way to go. All such work stopped in both countries in the 1970's, after the cancellation of the Apollo program in the United States and the N1 booster in the Soviet Union. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...

  • Portree, David S. F., Humans to Mars: Fifty Years of Mission Planning, 1950 - 2000, NASA Monographs in Aerospace History Series, Number 21, February 2001.
  • Drake, Bret U, Editor, Reference Mission Version 3.0 - Addendum to the Human Exploration of Mars: The Reference Mission of the NASA Mars Exploration Study Team, NASA Special Publication 6107-ADD EX13-98-036 June 1998.
  • Griffin, Brand; Thomas, Brent; Vaughan, Diane, A Comparison of Transportation Systems for Human Missions to Mars, AIAA 2004-3834, 40th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit ,11-14 July 2004.
  • NASA Report, Mars Design Reference Mission 3, Web Address when accessed: here.

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