Returning to LEO: Brief Summary
The basic requirement is that the system be able to return personnel and necessary equipment and samples to Earth orbit.
The ascent vehicle, Falcon is the only system leaving the Martian surface. The Falcon will contain
the six-member crew and collected samples. The Surface Habitat, the experimental equipment that are not
necessary for sample return, the surface robots-Little Martian Rovers, and the rover will remain on the Martian surface.
After proper storage of returning materials, the Falcon will fire the liquid propulsion engine located in
the center of the lander to detach from the Surface Habitat and return to Low Mars Orbit (LMO).
Once in LMO, the Falcon will rendezvous with the Transfer Vehicle orbiting around Mars
to begin the return to Earth's orbit. The Falcon and the Transfer Vehicle will use nuclear propulsion
and follow a Hohmann transfer return trajectory to optimize energy efficiency. Once in Earth's orbit,
Soyuz vehicles will be launched from Earth for a crew and samples retrieval mission.
The type of liquid propulsion used to ascend has not been determined. More research must be conducted to
isolate the best type of liquid propellant for the Falcon.