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STCAEM Cryogenic Aerobrake
Part of American Mars Expeditions Family
STCAEM Cryo
STCAEM Cryo
Credit: © Mark Wade
American manned Mars expedition. Study 1991. The STCAEM cryogenic / aerobrake (CAB) concept was used as the NASA reference vehicle.

Status: Study 1991. Gross mass: 801,000 kg (1,765,000 lb). Specific impulse: 475 s. Height: 50.00 m (164.00 ft). Span: 30.00 m (98.00 ft).

It offered conceptual continuity with the mainstream Mars transportation studies performed over the previous several years. Its only major new technology development was high-energy aerobraking (HEAB) for planetary capture, but the concept also required a high-thrust cryogenic space engine. Being able to land on Mars using the CAB concept required a successful rendezvous between separately captured vehicles in Mars orbit. The vehicle consisted of three main elements: the Mars Excursion vehicle (MEV), the Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV) and the Trans-Mars Injection Stage (TMIS).

STCAEM (Space Transfer Concepts and Analyses for Exploration Missions) was a major NASA funded study produced by Boeing in 1991. It provided an exhaustive trade analysis of mission profiles and trajectories for manned Mars missions using four different propulsion technologies (cryogenic chemical with aerobraking, nuclear thermal, nuclear electric, and solar electric). Within each study alternate mission profiles using split/sprint missions, flyby rendezvous, and additional aerobraking were examined. Only the baseline for the Cryogenic AeroBrake mission is presented here. The nominal baseline mission was as follows:

  • The vehicle was assembled, checked out and boarded in LEO
  • The TMI burn occurs and the TMIS was jettisoned
  • MTV/MEV coast to Mars
  • MTV and MEV separate 50 days prior to Mars capture
  • The MEV aerocaptures robotically a day ahead of the MTV, providing last minute verification of atmospheric conditions and targeting
  • The MTV captures, followed by rendezvous in the parking orbit with the MEV
  • The landing crow transfers to the MEV and checks it out
  • The MEV descends to the surface, jettisoning its aerobrake prior to landing
  • After surface operations, the ascent vehicle (MAV) leaves its descent stage and surface payloads, ascends to orbit and docks with the MTV for crew transfer
  • The MAV was jettisoned in Mars orbit, and the TEl burn occurs
  • The MTV coasts back to Earth
  • The crew transfers to a modified ACRV (MCRV), jettisons the MTV and performs a direct entry at Earth (optional: the entire MTV aerocaptures into a LEO parking orbit for refurbishment and reuse).

STCAEM Cryogenic AeroBrake Mission Summary:

  • Summary: Major NASA funded study produced by Boeing in 1991; focus on in-space propulsion
  • Propulsion: LOX/LH2
  • Braking at Mars: aerodynamic
  • Mission Type: opposition
  • Split or All-Up: all up
  • ISRU: no ISRU
  • Launch Year: 2016
  • Crew: 4
  • Mars Surface payload-metric tons: 25
  • Outbound time-days: 350
  • Mars Stay Time-days: 30
  • Return Time-days: 200
  • Total Mission Time-days: 580
  • Total Payload Required in Low Earth Orbit-metric tons: 800
  • Total Propellant Required-metric tons: 500
  • Propellant Fraction: 0.62
  • Mass per crew-metric tons: 200
  • Launch Vehicle Payload to LEO-metric tons: 140
  • Number of Launches Required to Assemble Payload in Low Earth Orbit: 8
  • Launch Vehicle: Shuttle Z



Family: Mars Expeditions. Country: USA. Spacecraft: STCAEM Cryogenic Aerobrake TMIS, STCAEM Cryogenic Aerobrake MTV, STCAEM MEV. Propellants: Lox/LH2. Agency: NASA, Boeing. Bibliography: 1985, 4423.
Photo Gallery

STCAEM CryoSTCAEM Cryo
Credit: NASA



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