Delivery and Return Transport System (DARTS)


Getting to Mars
   Brief Summary
   Extensive Solution
   Manifest List

Landing on Mars
   Brief Summary
   Extensive Solution/Justification
   Landing Manifest

Returning to LEO
   Brief Summary
   Extensive Solution
   Returning Manifest

   Check terminology here.

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 transit time.

mitCopyright © 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Comments and questions to Last updated: 10 December, 2000