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Bono Manned Mars Vehicle
Part of American Mars Expeditions Family
Bono Mars
Bono Mars
Credit: © Mark Wade
American manned Mars expedition. Study 1960. In 1960 Philip Bono, then working at Boeing, proposed a single-launch Mars manned expedition. Bono's scenario was the classic trade-off of weight for risk.

Status: Study 1960.

However it was feasible, and showed that Mars expeditions need not be assembled by multiple launches in earth orbit.

The mission profile was as follows:

  • The launch vehicle consisted of seven identical Lox/LH2 plug nuzzle boosters. Each module was 8.3 m in diameter and had a thrust of 6700 kN. At the moment of lift-off, on 3 May 1971, the booster was 76 m tall, 25 m in diameter, and had a mass of 3800 metric tons. Through the use of cross-plumbing, all seven modules fired at lift-off, fed from four of the outlying tanks. These four were jettisoned at propellant exhaustion at 60 km altitude. The three remaining engines were fed from the remaining two outer modules. These fired until the propellant was exhausted at 107 km altitude. Finally the core engine fired, using its own propellant, until it had placed the spacecraft on a transMars trajectory.

  • The 8-man spacecraft consisted of a delta-winged glider, 38 m long and with a wingspan of 29 m. Aft of this was a combined living module and rocket stage, 14 m long and 8.3 m in diameter. After separation of the third stage, a 16 m diameter antenna was deployed. Power was provided by a nuclear reactor in the nose of the glider.

  • The spacecraft arrived at Mars on 17 January 1972. As it neared the planet, 9.4 metric tons of trash and sewage were jettisoned. The glider separated from the living module and headed for the Martian atmosphere. The living module braked into Martian orbit on autopilot.

  • Bono assumed an atmospheric pressure of 80 millibar in designing the glider (about ten times greater than the value revealed years later by Mariner 4). After re-entry, the glider was slowed by a drag brake, then finally conducted a vertical landing from 600 m altitude using rocket engines.

  • After landing, as in Von Braun's scenarios, the crew set up a base camp. A 2000 kg manned rover emerged. It was used to drag the nuclear reactor a kilometer away from the glider. A 6 m diameter inflating dome provided crew quarters. The 8 men had 479 days to explore the surface.

  • To prepare for departure, the crew had to return the reactor to the glider's nose, then pivot the landing engines so that they pointed aft. The glider was angled up, 15 degrees from the vertical. The forward portion made a zero-zero lift-off on rocket thrust, flying away from the aft portion and landing skids.

  • The glider docked with the living module which had been waiting, vacant, in Mars orbit for 16 months. The living module's rockets were fired and the spacecraft headed back toward earth on 21 May 1973.

  • The spacecraft arrived at earth on 24 January 1974. The crew entered the glider and the living module and reactor were jettisoned, to either continue in solar orbit, or burn up in the earth's atmosphere. The glider made a direct re-entry into the atmosphere, and landed on its skids at a desert strip in the United States.

Bono Manned Mars Vehicle Mission Summary:

  • Summary: First serious single-launch Mars expedition design
  • Propulsion: LOX/LH2
  • Braking at Mars: aerodynamic
  • Mission Type: conjunction
  • Split or All-Up: all up
  • ISRU: no ISRU
  • Launch Year: 1971
  • Crew: 8
  • Mars Surface payload-metric tons: 480
  • Outbound time-days: 259
  • Mars Stay Time-days: 490
  • Return Time-days: 248
  • Total Mission Time-days: 997
  • 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: 100
  • Launch Vehicle Payload to LEO-metric tons: 800
  • Number of Launches Required to Assemble Payload in Low Earth Orbit: 1
  • Launch Vehicle: Bono HLV

Family: Mars Expeditions. Country: USA. Agency: Boeing. Bibliography: 1985.

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