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NASA Mars Flyby 1965
Part of American Mars Expeditions Family
American manned Mars flyby. Study 1965. Mars flyby mission designed by NASA Huntsville in 1965 to use existing Apollo hardware, allowing a manned flyby of Mars by 1975.

Status: Study 1965. Gross mass: 600,000 kg (1,320,000 lb). Diameter: 6.90 m (22.60 ft).

At the end of June 1964 Hans Koelle, Max Faget, and Wernher Von Braun considered an early manned Mars flyby mission boosted by a Saturn V - otherwise, as Faget conceded, "we'll never see a Mars expedition in our lifetime". The mission, as conceived by Ruppe in February 1965, would be launched by existing Saturn boosters in the mid- to late- 1970's. The spacecraft would use Apollo hardware. An Apollo CSM would be housed together with 4.5 metric tons of probes in a pressurized hangar. The crew of three would be provided with a radiation shelter and a centrifuge to maintain fitness during the voyage.

The spacecraft would be assembled in earth orbit using six Saturn V launches followed by one Saturn IB launch. Launch 1 would orbit the unpiloted flyby spacecraft. Launches 2 to 5 would be liquid oxygen tankers. On Launch 6 a modified S-IIB second stage would place itself in orbit with no payload or liquid oxygen residuals, but with 80 metric tons of excess liquid hydrogen. Within 72 hours the four tankers would have to successively dock with the S-IIB and pump liquid oxygen into its oxidizer tank. Only then would a Saturn IB launch the crew aboard an Apollo CSM into orbit.

The Service Module would be modified to be powered by an RL-10 liquid oxygen/hydrogen engine in lieu of the standard storable propellant engine. After separation from the S-IIB, the flyby spacecraft would total 105 metric tons. During the Mars flyby the crew would drop 4.5 metric tons of probes, fitted with 900 kg of instruments, into Mars orbit and the Martian surface. As they approached the earth, the crew would enter the Apollo CSM, undock from the spacecraft, fire the RL-10 engine to brake the CSM to an acceptable re-entry velocity, re-enter the atmosphere, and splashdown for recovery by an aircraft carrier. Total mission duration would be 661 to 691 days.

NASA Mars Flyby 1965 Mission Summary:

  • Summary: Manned Mars flyby using Apollo hardware for earliest possible mission (mid-1970's)
  • Propulsion: LOX/LH2
  • Braking at Mars: flyby
  • Mission Type: Crocco
  • Split or All-Up: all up
  • ISRU: flyby
  • Launch Year: 1975
  • Crew: 3
  • Outbound time-days: 130
  • Mars Stay Time-days: 0
  • Return Time-days: 531
  • Total Mission Time-days: 661
  • Total Payload Required in Low Earth Orbit-metric tons: 550
  • Mass per crew-metric tons: 183
  • Launch Vehicle Payload to LEO-metric tons: 100
  • Number of Launches Required to Assemble Payload in Low Earth Orbit: 6
  • Launch Vehicle: Saturn V

Crew Size: 3.



Family: Mars flyby. Country: USA. Engines: J-2. Propellants: Lox/LH2. Agency: NASA Huntsville. Bibliography: 591.

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