Cycler for future mars mission.

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Stewie_Griffin

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Recently i came across a very interesting article by Buzz Aldrin laying out a plan for future manned missions to mars. He Suggested using two cyclers (basically space stations in a heliocentric orbit that brings them close to Earth and Mars) to ferry people to and from Earth and Mars.

http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~jkm9n/teaching/astr342/reading/aldrin-mars-plan.pdf

Once the cyclers were in their orbits then all that would be needed to send 6 people to mars would be one launch of an Ares I and one launch of an Ares V.

Anybody have any thoughts?
 
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emudude

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Any technique that can cut costs is a good one. Unless there is something huge to be gained from having a network and supporting infrastructure like that running, I can't see this being implemented in the near-term :cry:
 
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Stewie_Griffin

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emudude":awa2itqa said:
Any technique that can cut costs is a good one. Unless there is something huge to be gained from having a network and supporting infrastructure like that running, I can't see this being implemented in the near-term :cry:
If you think about it we would have to build a giant space habitat no matter how we got to mars, simply because of the long travel time. But with cyclers we would only have to do it once. This will save money extremely quickly. I also think it is very important to have an infrastructure in place or else future mars mission will only happen a few times before the mars program is canceled due to the tremendous cost.
 
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scottb50

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Stewie_Griffin":2h0euoon said:
emudude":2h0euoon said:
Any technique that can cut costs is a good one. Unless there is something huge to be gained from having a network and supporting infrastructure like that running, I can't see this being implemented in the near-term :cry:
If you think about it we would have to build a giant space habitat no matter how we got to mars, simply because of the long travel time. But with cyclers we would only have to do it once. This will save money extremely quickly. I also think it is very important to have an infrastructure in place or else future mars mission will only happen a few times before the mars program is canceled due to the tremendous cost.
The biggest problem I see is having the cycler in it's own solar orbit. Timing where it is in relation to the Earth and Mars would limit the orbits it would be close enough to both to be an advantage. What makes more sense is an orbit to orbit cycler, brake into a highly elliptical orbit at both Earth and Mars and accept payloads at parigee and leave orbit nearing apogee. This would allow a wait in orbit until a proper return trajectory is available.

The highly elliptical orbit could use aerobraking and minimum propellant use to reduce costs.
 
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nuaetius

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scottb50":2ggvpkjs said:
The biggest problem I see is having the cycler in it's own solar orbit. Timing where it is in relation to the Earth and Mars would limit the orbits it would be close enough to both to be an advantage. What makes more sense is an orbit to orbit cycler, brake into a highly elliptical orbit at both Earth and Mars and accept payloads at parigee and leave orbit nearing apogee. This would allow a wait in orbit until a proper return trajectory is available.

The highly elliptical orbit could use aerobraking and minimum propellant use to reduce costs.
Aerobraking, by it's very nature, cooks a thermal protection system, you would need the ability to inspect, replace, and maintain the TPS system if you use Aerobraking. Even minimum propellant use would be a lot of propellant, considering if you did it that way you would have to slow down twice, and speed back up twice for each cycle.

The solar orbit is not an issue if you place multiple cyclers in the system. Timing is not an issue when orbital mechanics has been understood for generations now. More than likely an Ion thruster would be enough to adjust the orbit of the cycler to keep it in the proper orbit.

Better to have the manned vehicle "catch up" to the cycler, dock, then release, aerobraking, and enter Mars orbit/atmosphere. Minimazation of wear and tear on the cycler would be a priority.

An interesting test for a cycler system would be to contract Bigelow to place a genesis scale inflatable module into a cycler orbit. Use this as a test bed to confirm the radiation levels and prove out the theory.
 
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emudude

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Sigh...if only we had better launch capabilities, the only cycling we'd be doing would be in the gymnasium on the good ol' interplanetary cruise ship
 
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ThereIWas2

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I would think a simple instrumentation module in a cycler orbit would be enough to prove the theory, without the added complexity of an inflatable.
 
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pmn1

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If you want a cycler, how about this, there was a paper in the December 1991 issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society by Michael A Minovitch of Phaser Telepropulsion Inc proposing the building of rotating 2001 type stations 100 metres diameter for at least 150 crew by using automatic wrapping machines rotating round inflated Kevlar torus’ to wind thin layers of aluminium until the required thickness had been made.

The rotating toroidal living section would have a major and minor radii of 100m and 2m while the two central column cylinders with labs etc and constructed in the same way would each be 100m long x 10m diameter. The two column cylinders would connect into a pre-fabricated central hub into which three spokes 100m long x 4m diameter also constructed in the same way would be fitted to join the hub to the toroidal living section.

The station also served as the basis for a 'cycling' ship and would take about 10 HLLV (assuming 100 tons/launch) or 14 Shuttle-C launches and 1 STS flight with minimal EVA.

Costs were about $400 billion for an Earth orbit station, a Mars orbit station and a cycling ship
 
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scottb50

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nuaetius":3io1tll2 said:
scottb50":3io1tll2 said:
The biggest problem I see is having the cycler in it's own solar orbit. Timing where it is in relation to the Earth and Mars would limit the orbits it would be close enough to both to be an advantage. What makes more sense is an orbit to orbit cycler, brake into a highly elliptical orbit at both Earth and Mars and accept payloads at parigee and leave orbit nearing apogee. This would allow a wait in orbit until a proper return trajectory is available.

The highly elliptical orbit could use aerobraking and minimum propellant use to reduce costs.
Aerobraking, by it's very nature, cooks a thermal protection system, you would need the ability to inspect, replace, and maintain the TPS system if you use Aerobraking. Even minimum propellant use would be a lot of propellant, considering if you did it that way you would have to slow down twice, and speed back up twice for each cycle.

The solar orbit is not an issue if you place multiple cyclers in the system. Timing is not an issue when orbital mechanics has been understood for generations now. More than likely an Ion thruster would be enough to adjust the orbit of the cycler to keep it in the proper orbit.

I wouldn't think you could do more then three or four round trips without refurbishment, but that would amount to nearly ten years of service. Sitting for extended periods in both Earth and Mars orbits would also allow inspection and needed repair. Considering the cost of getting off Earth even one such cycler would be rather expensive, to put up a constellation needed for Heliocentric orbiters to be effective would be prohibitive.

If every Earth return features an extensive in orbit maintenance cycle even one vehicle would be much better then individual self contained missions with an Orion type system.

Better to have the manned vehicle "catch up" to the cycler, dock, then release, aerobraking, and enter Mars orbit/atmosphere. Minimazation of wear and tear on the cycler would be a priority.

An interesting test for a cycler system would be to contract Bigelow to place a genesis scale inflatable module into a cycler orbit. Use this as a test bed to confirm the radiation levels and prove out the theory.
 
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kelvinzero

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I would guess a cycler between the moon and earth would have a lot more regular orbits. Sure would be great if Bigilo was running something like this in a decade or two.

It doesnt really change the equation of travel -- to match orbits you have to put yourself into an orbit which would take you to the moon anyway -- but it could give you somewhere spacious and sheilded to stay during the trip, and you would have access to a huge amount of backups. Apollo 13 style risks would be removed along with solar flares.
 
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