MEK - Different vers
MEK Mars Expedition Spacecraft of 1969, layout as published by RKK Energia in 1999.
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 1966. Work on the TMK project continued, including trajectory trade-off studies and refinement of the design.
In its final iteration, in May 1966, before Korolev's OKB was overwhelmed by N1-L3 development work, the design was known as the KK - Space Complex for Delivering a Piloted Expedition to Mars. Nuclear-electric propulsion was retained, but various mission designs were studied in an attempt to reduce the overall vehicle mass.
The spacecraft itself now consisted of six (less ambitious) modules:
- EK - Expeditionary spacecraft, the command centre for piloting of the complex on the interplanetary portions of the mission
- OK - Orbital Complex, which contained the living and work compartments and the life support systems
- SA - The Landing Module, to be used by the crews for landing on the surface of the planet either from Martian orbit or directly from the interplanetary trajectory
- AV - The Ascent Module, in which the crew would return to the EK from the Martian surface;
- RV - The Ascent Rocket stage, which would take the AV from the Martian surface to either Mars orbit or directly on an interplanetary trajectory
- PS - The Planetary Station, which would be used by the expedition on the Martian surface for life support and scientific research
The following mission profiles were considered for the mission:
- Descent Scheme - direct aerodynamic braking from the interplanetary trajectory with landing of the complete expedition on the surface of the planet. Direct ascent from the Martian surface to an interplanetary trajectory, with no intermediate Martian orbit. This was the least favored scheme. It required the most total energy and the choice of landing regions on Mars was very limited. Nuclear electric propulsion could not be rationally used in this alternative, since it would only be used for the departure from Earth (braking at Mars would be aerodynamic and ascent from the surface would require high-thrust chemical stages).
- Orbital-Descent Scheme - Insertion of the entire expedition into Mars orbit, followed by descent of only those portions required to the surface. Return of the crew to Mars orbit and docking with the waiting EK. Boost of the remaining required modules from Mars orbit to the interplanetary trajectory. This was the favored scheme and had many advantages. The only drawbacks were the requirement for successfully completing rendezvous and docking in Mars orbit and the long time spent by the crew in the departure and braking spiral orbits of the low-thrust ion engines.
- Orbital Scheme - Insertion of the EK into Martian orbit but without landing on the surface. This was considered as an alternate or preliminary mission.
- Flyby-Descent Scheme: Undocking of those modules required on the surface from the main complex on the interplanetary trajectory. Direct aerodynamic braking from the interplanetary trajectory and landing on the surface of the planet of those modules. Ascent of the crew directly into an interplanetary trajectory, followed by docking with the main complex in interplanetary space. This scheme had the lowest energy requirements but not a few disadvantages. It had the same landing site limitations as the descent scheme and survival of the crew depended on successfully accomplishing the difficult rendezvous and docking on the interplanetary trajectory.
By the time the KK design was completed, the Soviet lunar landing goal had been set and all OKB-1 staff concentrated on design and development of the N1-L3 lunar spacecraft. Work on Mars projects was deferred for the duration of the moon race.
KK Mission Summary:
- Summary: First Soviet study to consider aerobraking and flyby-rendezvous mission scenarios.
- Propulsion: Nuclear electric
- Braking at Mars: propulsive
- Mission Type: low acceleration
- Split or All-Up: all up
- ISRU: no ISRU
- Launch Year: 1980
- Crew: 3
- Outbound time-days: 300
- Mars Stay Time-days: 30
- Return Time-days: 300
- Total Mission Time-days: 630
- Total Payload Required in Low Earth Orbit-metric tons: 150
- Total Propellant Required-metric tons: 24
- Propellant Fraction: 0.16
- Mass per crew-metric tons: 50
- Launch Vehicle Payload to LEO-metric tons: 75
- Number of Launches Required to Assemble Payload in Low Earth Orbit: 2
- Launch Vehicle: N1
Crew Size: 3. Electric System: 15,000.00 average kW.
AKA: Space Complex for a Piloted Expedition to Mars.
More... - Chronology...
Gross mass: 150,000 kg (330,000 lb).
Thrust: 61 N (14 lbf).
Specific impulse: 8,000 s.
Mars Expeditions Since Wernher von Braun first sketched out his Marsprojekt in 1946, a succession of designs and mission profiles were seriously studied in the United States and the Soviet Union. By the late 1960's Von Braun had come to favour nuclear thermal rocket powered expeditions, while his Soviet counterpart Korolev decided that nuclear electric propulsion was the way to go. All such work stopped in both countries in the 1970's, after the cancellation of the Apollo program in the United States and the N1 booster in the Soviet Union. More...
Russian Mars Expeditions Aelita was the Queen of Mars in the famous socialist parable filmed by Jakov Protazanov in 1924. It was altogether fitting that her name would be given to the leading Soviet plan for the conquest of the Red Planet. The Soviet Union's Korolev had the same original dream as Wernher von Braun - a manned expedition to Mars. In both cases this goal was interrupted by the 'side show' of the moon race of the 1960's. In both cases that race proved so costly and of so little public interest that political support for any Mars expeditions evaporated. More...
Associated Launch Vehicles
N1 1969 Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. The N1 launch vehicle, developed by Russia in the 1960's, was to be the Soviet Union's counterpart to the Saturn V. The largest of a family of launch vehicles that were to replace the ICBM-derived launchers then in use, the N series was to launch Soviet cosmonauts to the moon, Mars, and huge space stations into orbit. In comparison to Saturn, the project was started late, starved of funds and priority, and dogged by political and technical struggles between the chief designers Korolev, Glushko, and Chelomei. The end result was four launch failures and cancellation of the project five years after Apollo landed on the moon. Not only did a Soviet cosmonaut never land on the moon, but the Soviet Union even denied that the huge project ever existed. More...
N1 The N1 launch vehicle, developed by Russia in the 1960's, was to be the Soviet Union's counterpart to the Saturn V. The largest of a family of launch vehicles that were to replace the ICBM-derived launchers then in use, the N series was to launch Soviet cosmonauts to the moon, Mars, and huge space stations into orbit. In comparison to Saturn, the project was started late, starved of funds and priority, and dogged by political and technical struggles between the chief designers Korolev, Glushko, and Chelomei. The end result was four launch failures and cancellation of the project five years after Apollo landed on the moon. Not only did a Soviet cosmonaut never land on the moon, but the Soviet Union even denied that the huge project ever existed. More...
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...
Electric/Xenon The many versions of electric engines use electric or magnetic fields to accelerate ionized elements to high velocity, creating thrust. The power source can be a nuclear reactor or thermal-electric generator, or solar panels. Proposed as propellant for some ion motors. More...
Vetrov, G S, S. P. Korolev i evo delo, Nauka, Moscow, 1998.
1966 May -
- Final iteration of TMK Mars spacecraft design - .
Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: KK. Work on the TMK project continued, including trajectory trade-off studies and refinement of the design. In its final iteration, before Korolevís OKB was overwhelmed by N1-L3 development work, the design was known as the KK - Space Complex for Delivering a Piloted Expedition to Mars.
Home - Browse - Contact
© / Conditions for Use