Free Return & Energy-Efficient Trajectory for Early Manned Mars Missions Employing Split Expedition

Yon Wui Ng

Winner of the Undergraduate Prize, RMIT University

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Abstract: This paper proposes an innovative trajectory for early manned Mars missions. Characteristics of the trajectory include the free return capability, the energy-efficient launch, and the two-burn Earth escape manoeuvre for propellant saving purpose. The launch window identified for the proposed trajectory is in March 2012 with 150 days of TMI transit and 200 days of TEI transit. Total delta-V required for the mission is about 5.1 km/s. The major drawback for the proposed trajectory is the close Sun passage during the free return trip. However, it is believed that the radiation issue as a result of the close Sun passage can be overcome with proper radiation shielding for the spacecraft.

PROFILE: Yon Wui Ng received a Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace Engineering) degree from RMIT University in 2003. His final year thesis project investigated the feasibility of improving the performance of Pulsed Plasma Thrusters. His research interests include space tourism and electromagnetic propulsion. He is currently seeking job opportunities in aerospace sector.