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NASA Mars Expedition 1971
Part of American Mars Expeditions Family


Credit: © Mark Wade

American manned Mars expedition. Study 1971. Final NASA Mars expedition before the 1980's. The spacecraft would use shuttle hardware, including SSME engines in the rocket stages.

Status: Study 1971. Gross mass: 1,900,000 kg (4,100,000 lb). Height: 140.00 m (450.00 ft). Diameter: 7.31 m (23.98 ft).

In its final action after Nixon had killed any possibility of further manned Mars spaceflight work, the nearly-defunct Planetary Missions Requirement's Group called for NASA centers to sum up their work. NASA Houston used the opportunity to take a new look at a Mars mission using expected shuttle hardware in February 1971. A manned expedition to Mars in 1987 lasting 570 days was envisioned. Six Chemical Propulsion System liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen stages, each equipped with a shuttle SSME engine, would be assembled in low earth orbit. Each stage would be an orbiter payload in place of the manned orbiter, having an empty mass of 27 metric tons and having 245 metric tons of liquid oxygen / liquid hydrogen propellants. The tanks would be topped up in orbit by no fewer than 65 shuttle missions. A 50 metric ton North American MEM lander, capable of supporting three crew for 45 days on the surface, would be used. The transit Mars Module would be lofted in a single shuttle launch, and be 20 m long, using a large solar array for power. The spacecraft would be rotated in transit to provide 1/6 artificial G for the five-member crew. The spacecraft would be placed in a 3200 x 16,000 km Mars orbit. The landing crew would be provided with two single-man rovers, allowing 20,000 square km of the Martian surface to be explored. This was the last of the NASA Mars expedition designs for decades.

NASA Mars Expedition 1971 Mission Summary:

  • Summary: First NASA Mars expedition design to use liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen propulsion and shuttle hardware elements.
  • Propulsion: LOX/LH2
  • Braking at Mars: propulsive
  • Mission Type: opposition
  • Split or All-Up: all up
  • ISRU: no ISRU
  • Crew: 6
  • Outbound time-days: 340
  • Mars Stay Time-days: 30
  • Return Time-days: 200
  • Total Mission Time-days: 570
  • Total Payload Required in Low Earth Orbit-metric tons: 1900
  • Total Propellant Required-metric tons: 1470
  • Propellant Fraction: 0.77
  • Mass per crew-metric tons: 316
  • Launch Vehicle Payload to LEO-metric tons: 30
  • Number of Launches Required to Assemble Payload in Low Earth Orbit: 71
  • Launch Vehicle: Shuttle

Crew Size: 5.

Family: Mars Expeditions. Country: USA. Engines: SSME. Propellants: Lox/LH2. Agency: NASA Houston. Bibliography: 591.

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