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  • Architectures for an Integrated Human Space Exploration Program

    Paper number



    Mr. Arthur Guest, Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), United States



    I. Introduction
    In the 2004 Vision for Space Exploration, President George W. Bush laid out a new direction for U.S. space exploration that focused on developing a program that included eventually sending humans to the surface of Mars  [1]. Developing the systems for undertaking a human Mars mission will take several decades of continuous funding of the human space exploration initiative. One way to secure this funding is to develop an exploration program that has a opposition-class Mars surface mission as its ultimate goal, but also creates several ‘exploration firsts’ during the development process of the Mars mission. This can be accomplished by establishing architectures that focus on developing the elements and capabilities required for a Mars surface mission that enable missions to other destinations throughout the development process. This paper outlines the capabilities required for a opposition-class Mars surface mission and presents a catalogue of feasible missions that can be undertaken using a sub-set of capabilities as well as several architectures for an integrated human space exploration program that allows for a steady, continuous build-up of capabilities.
    II. A Mission Catalogue for the Inner Solar System
    The architectures developed in this paper for the integrated human exploration program focus on developing the elements and capabilities for a opposition-class Mars surface mission. Experience in eight critical capabilities is seen as necessary before performing a Mars mission. These capabilities are:
    •	Development of Earth departure propulsion capable of sending 100-mt payloads on TMI
    •	Development of propulsion that can be used safely after extended periods beyond LEO
    •	Development of long-duration habitation modules for in-space and on the surface
    •	Experience with long-duration zero/hypo gravity
    •	Development and of aero-assist technologies
    •	Development of descent and landing systems
    •	Development of ascent systems
    •	Development of surface mobility systems
    Because of the length of time required for development of these capabilities, it would not be feasible to expect funding for a Mars surface mission unless other destinations and objectives can be met sooner. By taking subsets of these capabilities, it is possible to create a catalogue of feasible destinations that can be accessed before the Mars surface mission. Each of these destinations could be reach before a human Mars mission would be conducted and each destination would represent a “exploration first”. The catalogue consists of six main classifications of missions (not including the Mars surface missions):
    •	Missions to a LEO centrifuge to gain hypo-gravity experience
    •	Missions to the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 2
    •	Flyby missions to Venus or Mars
    •	Missions to Near Earth Objects
    •	Mars orbit missions
    •	Extended duration lunar surface missions
    Each of these mission types provides operational testing of at least one capability for a future Mars surface mission. For example, a LEO centrifuge, which requires the development of a long-duration habitation, can provide the long-duration zero gravity experience in preparation for a Mars mission.
    III. Integrated Exploration Program Architectures
    Based on the seven possible mission classes, there are 5040 possible program architectures. This number is reduced using logical reasoning based on retiring capabilities towards goings to the surface of Mars. In other words, all feasible architectures end with a Mars surface mission. This analysis reduces the number of feasible program architectures to 84. Further reduction of feasible programs is achieved by pruning out programs that require long development gaps between new mission types or eliminating mission types that do not provide any extra experience that cannot be gained in an Earth analogue. For example, going straight from developing LEO centrifuge missions to Mars surface missions is not feasible unless some other type of mission is introduced in between because of how much time would be required to develop the rest of the assets. Another example is that going to the lunar surface after performing a Mars orbit mission would not provide substantial extra experience that cannot be gained from an Earth analogue. After reducing the number of feasible architectures, there are 18 feasible architectures that are possible for an integrated exploration program. Each of these architectures is compared and contrasted in the paper.
    IV. Conclusions
    By following a Mars-back mentality, it is possible to create an integrated human exploration program that allows substantial ‘exploration firsts’ to be achieved as the elements and capabilities are established to perform a opposition-class mission. There are six other feasible destinations that can be visited to gain experience before sending crews to Mars. Based on logical reasoning, it can be seen that there are 18 feasible architectures for an integrated human exploration program. This paper outlines the capabilities required for a Mars surface mission, the mission catalogue that can be created from a subset of these capabilities, and a set of feasible program architectures that lead to an opposition-class Mars mission.
    V. References
    [1] Bush, G.W. “A Renewed Spirit of Discovery: The President’s Vision for U.S. Space Exploration”. January 14, 2004. Washington, DC
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