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Project Minerva: A low cost manned Mars mission based on indigenous propellant productionProject Minerva is a low-cost manned Mars mission designed to deliver a crew of four to the Martian surface using only two sets of two launches from the Kennedy Space Center. Key concepts which make this mission realizable are the use of near-term technologies and in-situ propellant production, following the scenario originally proposed by R. Zubrin. The first set of launches delivers two unmanned payloads into low Earth orbit (LEO): the first payload consists of an Earth Return Vehicle (ERV), a propellant production plant, and a set of robotic vehicles; the second payload consists of the trans-Mars injection (TMI) upper stage. In LEO, the two payloads are docked and the configuration is injected into a Mars transfer orbit. The landing on Mars is performed with the aid of multiple aerobraking maneuvers. On the Martian surface, the propellant production plant uses a Sabatier/electrolysis type process to combine nine tons of hydrogen with carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere to produce over a hundred tons of liquid oxygen and liquid methane, which are later used as the propellants for the rover expeditions and the manned return journey of the ERV. The systems necessary for the flights to and from Mars, as well as those needed for the stay on Mars, are discussed. These systems include the transfer vehicle design, life support, guidance and communications, rovers and telepresence, power generation, and propellant manufacturing. Also included are the orbital mechanics, the scientific goals, and the estimated mission costs.
Document ID
Document Type
Contractor Report (CR)
Beder, David (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Bryan, Richard (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Bui, Tuyen (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Caviezel, Kelly (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Cinnamon, Mark (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Daggert, Todd (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Folkers, Mike (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Fornia, Mark (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Hanks, Natasha (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Hamilton, Steve (Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
June 15, 1992
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.26:192020
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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