Encyclopedia Astronautica
MPK



mpkdwg.jpg
MPK - Concept
No drawing of the MPK design of 1956 is available, but it would have consisted of clusters of N1-launched rocket stages.
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 1956. This first serious examination in the Soviet Union of manned flight to Mars was made by M Tikhonravov.

His Martian Piloted Complex (MPK) would have a mass of 1,630 metric tons and land a crew on Mars on a 30-month expedition.

In Korolev's defense of the N1 draft project in July 1962 he stated that he first sketched out the N1 design in 1956-1957. The requirement at that time was to support a large manned expedition to Mars. This first serious examination in the Soviet Union of manned flight to Mars was initiated by M Tikhonravov's section of Korolev's OKB-1. The study group first considered a complete manned expedition to Mars. This followed the classic scenario worked out by Von Braun's group in their Mars Project of 1948. The Martian Piloted Complex would be assembled in low earth orbit. Using conventional liquid propellants, it would fly a Hohmann trajectory, enter Martian orbit, and a landing craft would descend to the surface. After just over a year of surface exploration, the crew would return to earth. It was calculated that the initial mass of the MPK would be 1,630 metric tons, and a re-entry vehicle of only 15 metric tons could be returned to earth at the end of the 30 month mission. At the planned N1 payload mass of 75 to 85 metric tons, it would take 20 to 25 N1 launches to assemble the MPK.

MPK Mission Summary:

  • Summary: First Soviet study for a manned Mars expedition.
  • Propulsion: LOX/Kerosene
  • Braking at Mars: propulsive
  • Mission Type: conjunction
  • Split or All-Up: all up
  • ISRU: no ISRU
  • Launch Year: 1975
  • Crew: 6
  • Outbound time-days: 270
  • Mars Stay Time-days: 360
  • Return Time-days: 270
  • Total Mission Time-days: 900
  • Total Payload Required in Low Earth Orbit-metric tons: 1360
  • Mass per crew-metric tons: 226
  • Launch Vehicle Payload to LEO-metric tons: 75
  • Number of Launches Required to Assemble Payload in Low Earth Orbit: 25
  • Launch Vehicle: N1

AKA: Martian Piloted Complex.
Gross mass: 1,630,000 kg (3,590,000 lb).
Specific impulse: 310 s.

More... - Chronology...


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...
  • Russian Mars Expeditions Aelita was the Queen of Mars in the famous socialist parable filmed by Jakov Protazanov in 1924. It was altogether fitting that her name would be given to the leading Soviet plan for the conquest of the Red Planet. The Soviet Union's Korolev had the same original dream as Wernher von Braun - a manned expedition to Mars. In both cases this goal was interrupted by the 'side show' of the moon race of the 1960's. In both cases that race proved so costly and of so little public interest that political support for any Mars expeditions evaporated. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • N1 1969 Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. The N1 launch vehicle, developed by Russia in the 1960's, was to be the Soviet Union's counterpart to the Saturn V. The largest of a family of launch vehicles that were to replace the ICBM-derived launchers then in use, the N series was to launch Soviet cosmonauts to the moon, Mars, and huge space stations into orbit. In comparison to Saturn, the project was started late, starved of funds and priority, and dogged by political and technical struggles between the chief designers Korolev, Glushko, and Chelomei. The end result was four launch failures and cancellation of the project five years after Apollo landed on the moon. Not only did a Soviet cosmonaut never land on the moon, but the Soviet Union even denied that the huge project ever existed. More...
  • N1 The N1 launch vehicle, developed by Russia in the 1960's, was to be the Soviet Union's counterpart to the Saturn V. The largest of a family of launch vehicles that were to replace the ICBM-derived launchers then in use, the N series was to launch Soviet cosmonauts to the moon, Mars, and huge space stations into orbit. In comparison to Saturn, the project was started late, starved of funds and priority, and dogged by political and technical struggles between the chief designers Korolev, Glushko, and Chelomei. The end result was four launch failures and cancellation of the project five years after Apollo landed on the moon. Not only did a Soviet cosmonaut never land on the moon, but the Soviet Union even denied that the huge project ever existed. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Lox/Kerosene Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. In January 1953 Rocketdyne commenced the REAP program to develop a number of improvements to the engines being developed for the Navaho and Atlas missiles. Among these was development of a special grade of kerosene suitable for rocket engines. Prior to that any number of rocket propellants derived from petroleum had been used. Goddard had begun with gasoline, and there were experimental engines powered by kerosene, diesel oil, paint thinner, or jet fuel kerosene JP-4 or JP-5. The wide variance in physical properties among fuels of the same class led to the identification of narrow-range petroleum fractions, embodied in 1954 in the standard US kerosene rocket fuel RP-1, covered by Military Specification MIL-R-25576. In Russia, similar specifications were developed for kerosene under the specifications T-1 and RG-1. The Russians also developed a compound of unknown formulation in the 1980's known as 'Sintin', or synthetic kerosene. More...

Bibliography
  • Krasnikov, Aleksandr, "Pilotiruemiy polyot na Mars - chetvert veka nazad", Russian Space History Web Site, Web Address when accessed: here.

MPK Chronology


1956 During the Year - .
  • Martian Piloted Complex (MPK) - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Hohmann. Spacecraft: MPK. This first serious examination in the Soviet Union of manned flight to Mars was initiated by M Tikhonravov's section of Korolev's OKB-1. The Martian Piloted Complex (MPK), would be assembled in low earth orbit. Using conventional liquid propellants, it would fly a Hohmann trajectory, enter Martian orbit, and a landing craft would descend to the surface. After just over a year of surface exploration, the crew would return to earth. It was calculated that the initial mass of the MPK would be 1,630 tonnes, and a re-entry vehicle of only 15 tonnes could be returned to earth at the end of the 30 month mission. At the planned N1 payload mass of 75 to 85 tonnes, it would take 20 to 25 N1 launches to assemble the MPK.

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