21st Century Mars
Human Missions to Mars Using 21st Century Technology
1309 Stroud Ave, Gadsden, AL 35903
- Abstract - We discuss concepts for human missions to Mars based on the availability of 21st century knowledge and technologies and modern business methods. The technologies include advanced computers, communications, automation, robotics, electric propulsion, and use of in-space resources. The business methods include public/private partnerships and incentive prizes as alternatives to conventional government funding/contractor-built methods.
Early mission concepts for visiting Mars, such as Von Braun 1954, made a couple of implicit assumptions. These are that everything is launched and supplied from Earth, and that the trip is made non-stop between the planets. Over fifty years later, NASA Mars Mission Concepts have not evolved much past this point. These assumptions drive a high mission cost, and thus actual attempts to reach Mars have stalled because they are unaffordable.
We propose a new approach which incorporates knowledge and technologies developed in the last half century, and some new technology which is within reasonable reach in the short term. We also propose changing the traditional government-funded/contractor-built business method, because it has no incentive for either side to finish promptly or keep costs under control. In fact, it has led to numerous examples of tacit underestimation of costs to get initial funding approval, followed by incremental cost growth as reality sets in.