ON THE ISSUE OF HOW TO EFFECTIVELY GET ASTRONAUTS
TO MARS AND BACK
The Mars Direct Plan is a comprehensive plan that lays out the roadwork for getting astronauts to and from Mars. It will allow for a presence on Mars to be possible within a decade of the first launch. This plan will offer economic and scientific benefits by offering jobs in support and manufacturing roles as well as research and development for better materials and equipment. The author provides this informational paper to serve as a recommendation for this plan in the President’s initiative to reach and explore Mars.
The manner in which we transport astronauts to and from Mars is a topic that is debated often, but it is the opinion of the author that this plan is one of the best due to the following 3 reasons:
- Redundancy. The Mars Direct plan allows for the first launch to unmanned, and upon reaching Mars begins producing materials and fuel to be used when the manned mission arrives. Therefore, before launching astronauts to Mars, a decision can be made as to the situation. If the mission fails in any way, a second unmanned mission can be sent again. Should this mission succeed, a spare return vehicle is available to the crew should something happen to theirs. As well, a second unmanned vehicle is launched at the same time as the manned vehicle, so in effect the crew has two viable back-ups.
- Easy to Manufacture. This plan does not require new materials or technology. This plan was first published in a 1997 book “The Case for Mars” by Robert Zubrin. Zubrin makes a case for using current (2000’s) technology to sustain the crew on Mars (oxygen and fuel production). As well, the current Ares rockets and a variation on the Orion capsule would be sufficient for traveling to Mars. However, any construction that needs to be started up again will allow for more jobs to be created. This could be a short-term economic stimulus to get the initial vehicles and equipment manufactured.
- Ease of Access. This plan allows for the launching of the pair of vehicles at every available window. As well, with this rate, a chain of mini-bases can be quickly constructed along the surface of or in clusters around Mars. This allows for a quicker exploration and longer stays on Mars. This can lead to permanent settlements on the surface, leading to better exploration and resource gathering.
- It is the author’s recommendation that the directive for space exploration should support the Mars Direct plan. This plan will allow for a safe and fast exploration of Mars. This program will allow the integration of the resources between NASA and the private sector, allowing for a better economic development.
- It is also advisable to include the private sector for manufacturing and some research and development, while NASA is the main research and development center and head of the missions. This will allow those that were involved in the discontinued Space Shuttle program to continue to be involved in this industry, promoting business and job creation/maintenance.