Encyclopedia Astronautica
NASA Mars Flyby 1965

American manned Mars flyby. Study 1965. Mars flyby mission designed by NASA Huntsville in 1965 to use existing Apollo hardware, allowing a manned flyby of Mars by 1975.

At the end of June 1964 Hans Koelle, Max Faget, and Wernher Von Braun considered an early manned Mars flyby mission boosted by a Saturn V - otherwise, as Faget conceded, "we'll never see a Mars expedition in our lifetime". The mission, as conceived by Ruppe in February 1965, would be launched by existing Saturn boosters in the mid- to late- 1970's. The spacecraft would use Apollo hardware. An Apollo CSM would be housed together with 4.5 metric tons of probes in a pressurized hangar. The crew of three would be provided with a radiation shelter and a centrifuge to maintain fitness during the voyage.

The spacecraft would be assembled in earth orbit using six Saturn V launches followed by one Saturn IB launch. Launch 1 would orbit the unpiloted flyby spacecraft. Launches 2 to 5 would be liquid oxygen tankers. On Launch 6 a modified S-IIB second stage would place itself in orbit with no payload or liquid oxygen residuals, but with 80 metric tons of excess liquid hydrogen. Within 72 hours the four tankers would have to successively dock with the S-IIB and pump liquid oxygen into its oxidizer tank. Only then would a Saturn IB launch the crew aboard an Apollo CSM into orbit.

The Service Module would be modified to be powered by an RL-10 liquid oxygen/hydrogen engine in lieu of the standard storable propellant engine. After separation from the S-IIB, the flyby spacecraft would total 105 metric tons. During the Mars flyby the crew would drop 4.5 metric tons of probes, fitted with 900 kg of instruments, into Mars orbit and the Martian surface. As they approached the earth, the crew would enter the Apollo CSM, undock from the spacecraft, fire the RL-10 engine to brake the CSM to an acceptable re-entry velocity, re-enter the atmosphere, and splashdown for recovery by an aircraft carrier. Total mission duration would be 661 to 691 days.

NASA Mars Flyby 1965 Mission Summary:

  • Summary: Manned Mars flyby using Apollo hardware for earliest possible mission (mid-1970's)
  • Propulsion: LOX/LH2
  • Braking at Mars: flyby
  • Mission Type: Crocco
  • Split or All-Up: all up
  • ISRU: flyby
  • Launch Year: 1975
  • Crew: 3
  • Outbound time-days: 130
  • Mars Stay Time-days: 0
  • Return Time-days: 531
  • Total Mission Time-days: 661
  • Total Payload Required in Low Earth Orbit-metric tons: 550
  • Mass per crew-metric tons: 183
  • Launch Vehicle Payload to LEO-metric tons: 100
  • Number of Launches Required to Assemble Payload in Low Earth Orbit: 6
  • Launch Vehicle: Saturn V

Crew Size: 3.

Gross mass: 600,000 kg (1,320,000 lb).
Diameter: 6.90 m (22.60 ft).

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • J-2 Rocketdyne lox/lh2 rocket engine. 1033.1 kN. Study 1961. Isp=421s. Used in Saturn IVB stage in Saturn IB and Saturn V, and Saturn II stage in Saturn V. Gas generator, pump-fed. First flight 1966. More...

See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Associated Propellants
  • Lox/LH2 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. Liquid hydrogen was identified by all the leading rocket visionaries as the theoretically ideal rocket fuel. It had big drawbacks, however - it was highly cryogenic, and it had a very low density, making for large tanks. The United States mastered hydrogen technology for the highly classified Lockheed CL-400 Suntan reconnaissance aircraft in the mid-1950's. The technology was transferred to the Centaur rocket stage program, and by the mid-1960's the United States was flying the Centaur and Saturn upper stages using the fuel. It was adopted for the core of the space shuttle, and Centaur stages still fly today. 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.

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