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Florida Tech Researchers Continue the Study of Mars Mission

Melbourne, Fla.—Nowadays, it doesn’t take us by surprise that we are even talking about Earth-Mars-Earth transits, and believe it or not it is all happening right here in our backyard at Florida’s Space Coast.

Florida Tech researchers in Melbourne, Florida, continue a study originally pioneered by Buzz Aldrin and the university’s Aldrin Research Institute, which deals with Mars mission architectures build on cycler orbits.

According to Space Coast Daily, the process involves a cycler spacecraft that would stay in elliptical orbit around the Sun making regular fly-bys of Earth and Mars. Then, a crew transfer vehicle lifts off from Earth during the process of the fly-by to approach the cycler and deliver the crew. At the end, the crew will be transported from the cycler to a low Mars orbit.

When the crew finishes the Mars mission, the vehicle and the cycler repeat the process backwards to bring them back to Earth, and pick up the next expedition. And here’s the surprising finding of a paper published by The Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets based on a previous research in 2020— The cycler trajectory favors one leg of the journey between the planets with a short travel time of 154 days, as compared to 180–260 days typical for direct Earth-Mars transfers. Two cycler spacecrafts are required, one for a short trip from Earth to Mars, and one for a short return trip.—in order to keep the crew healthy and properly supplied.

Space Coast Daily emphasizes the fact that for the investment into the spacecraft to make sense, each one was assumed to be in operation for 30 years or 15 complete Earth-Mars-Earth transits. Considerations such as these drive the size, weight, and power required for the spacecraft.

Aerospace engineering associate professors Markus Wilde and Brian Kish, along with aerospace engineering graduate student Bhumika Patel, discussed the design considerations for a deep-space transfer spacecraft using the ballistic S1L1 cycler trajectory.

In one of their findings Markus Wile, lead author, stated:

“Launching such a spacecraft is doable and actually reasonable, but only if you use it for a sustained Mars exploration campaign spanning decades, not just for a handful of flag-raising missions.”

Florida, and its Space Coast, are confirming its strategic position on Space Exploration, transportation, and businesses to support these operations.

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