Encyclopedia Astronautica
Von Braun Passenger Ship

Mars 1946
Mars 1946 space ship
Credit: © Mark Wade
American manned Mars orbiter. Study 1952. The first design for a manned Mars orbiter based on engineering analysis. 10 passengers would be housed in a 20-m-diameter sphere during the 963 day mission to Mars, in Mars orbit, and back to earth.

The Passenger Vessel would perform four major maneuvers: Trans-Mars Injection (3860 m/s), Mars Orbit Insertion (2200 m/s), Trans-Earth Injection (2200 m/s), and Earth Orbit Insertion (3600 m/s).

Each crew member was allowed 120 kg of personal baggage. Consumable supplies totaled 12 metric tons of oxygen, 8 metric tons of food, 2.5 metric tons of food containers, 13 metric tons of potable water, 2 metric tons of utility water. Additional utility water would be extracted from the cabin atmosphere during the mission, sterilized, and re-used. Final empty weight of the passenger vessel in earth orbit at the end of the mission would be only 50.5 metric tons, only 1.4% of the 3720 metric ton departure mass.


Crew Size: 10. Structure: 11,800 kg (26,000 lb). Reaction Control System: 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). Navigation Equipment: 3,000 kg (6,600 lb). Electrical Equipment: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Communications Systems: 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). Crew Seats and Provisions: 5,500 kg (12,100 lb). Crew: 800 kg (1,760 lb). Miscellaneous Contingency: 3,700 kg (8,100 lb). Environmental Control System: 20,000 kg (44,000 lb). RCS Fine No x Thrust: Flywheels. Spacecraft delta v: 12,000 m/s (39,000 ft/sec).

Gross mass: 3,720,000 kg (8,200,000 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 57,500 kg (126,700 lb).
Height: 41.00 m (134.00 ft).
Diameter: 20.00 m (65.00 ft).
Thrust: 1,960.00 kN (440,620 lbf).
Specific impulse: 297 s.

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Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Von Braun American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Von Braun, USA. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Nitric acid/Hydrazine Drawing on the German World War II Wasserfall rocket, nitric acid (HNO3) became the early storable oxidiser of choice for missiles and upper stages of the 1950's. To overcome various problems with its use, it was necessary to combine the nitric acid with N2O4 and passivation compounds. These formulae were considered extremely secret at the time. By the late 1950's it was apparent that N2O4 by itself was a better oxidiser. Therefore nitric acid was almost entirely replaced by pure N2O4 in storable liquid fuel rocket engines developed after 1960. Hydrazine (N2H4) found early use as a fuel, but it was quickly replaced by UDMH. It is still used as a monopropellant for satellite station-keeping motors. More...

  • Miller, Ron, The Dream Machines, Krieger, Malabar, Florida, 1993.
  • Von Braun, Wernher, The Mars Project, University of Illinois Press, 1991.
  • 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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