Getting to Mars: Extensive Solution
The Delivery and Return Transport System (DARTS), containing three separate
packages, will begin with individual modules built on Earth to fit either the
Proton SL-12 or SL-13. Three Proton SL-12s will send three, 2500kg satellites into Low Mars Orbit (LMO)
on the eleventh year of the mission timeline. These three Protons together form the Communications Package.
Once the Protons have neared Mars, the satellites will align themselves
in the proper geosynchronous orbits. The following year, the Ion Propulsion Package (IPP)
modules will be launched to LEO using 5 Proton SL-13s.
The original IPP transfer method was to use a spiral trajectory in which the
modules would spiral out of Earth's orbit, intersect with Mars' orbit, and begin a sprial
down to Low Mars Orbit. However, it has recently come to the attention of the team that the
Van Allen Radiation Belt could be hazardous to the sensitive equiptment and engines in the
IPP after prolonged exposure. The Van Allen Radiation Belts surround Earth and are caused by
the Earth's magnetic dipole. The DARTS design team has come up with a possible solution to
this potential mission hazard.
Each IPP module will be propelled towards Mars
using a chemical engine to escape the Earth's influence. Once out of Earth's influence,
the modules will establish orbit around the sun with a natural orbital velocity of 30 km/s.
Then the modules will decrease their velocities by 4.64 km/s using ion propulsion.
By means of a spiral transfer trajectory (delta v = 8 km/s), the system modules will
slowly descend into LMO.
The NPP modules will be launched to LEO using 34 Protons SL-13s. The modules
will then be assembled through the use of automatic docking in orbit. However, the NPP will not
be launched from LEO until the IPP is confirmed to be in low Mars orbit (LMO) and undamaged. The
Nuclear Propulsion Package will follow a free-return trajectory (delta v = 38.4 km/s) that will
maximize the safety of the crew. In the case that the NPP must return to Earth following a free-return
trajectory, the NPP contains enough extra consumables and supplies to sustain the crew for the additional