Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mars via Solar Sail


British manned Mars expedition. Study 1982. In 1982 a minimum-mass approach to a Mars expedition was proposed, using aerocapture at Mars and the use of a long-duration solar sail cargo transport.

Consumables and propellant would be delivered to Mars orbit by a solar sail-driven cargo transport. The crew would employ a one-way spacecraft with an aerocapture vehicle module for landing. The sole terrestrial launch vehicle employed to bring the passenger and cargo system elements to low earth orbit for deployment would be the Space Shuttle, with such expected improvements as the Delivery Configured Orbiter. An Aft Cargo Compartment Space Shuttle configuration would be used to launch the Mars landing vehicles. To ensure rescue at critical points, two crew transfer spacecraft were to be used on each expedition. Two landers would carry a total of four people to the Mars surface for several weeks, while four crew members remained in orbit. Over a period of four years, 53 Space Shuttle launches would be required for the completion of a single mission.

Crew Size: 8.

Gross mass: 1,300,000 kg (2,800,000 lb).

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Associated Countries
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 Launch Vehicles
  • Shuttle American winged orbital launch vehicle. The manned reusable space system which was designed to slash the cost of space transport and replace all expendable launch vehicles. It did neither, but did keep NASA in the manned space flight business for 30 years. Redesign of the shuttle with reliability in mind after the Challenger disaster reduced maximum payload to low earth orbit from 27,850 kg to 24,400 kg. More...

Bibliography
  • Staehle, Robert L, "An expedition to Mars employing shuttle-era systems, solar sail and aerocapture", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 35, pp. 326-335,

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