Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System:
A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet
W. Brimley, Ph.D., P. Eng.,
Operations Manager, Interactive Learning Connection - University Space Network,
School of Aerospace Engineering, Ryerson Polytechnic University
Seven student teams at four Ontario universities (Queen's, Royal Military College, Ryerson and York) were challenged to perform the preliminary system design for a manned spacecraft capable of leaving earth and traveling to Mars. The crew is to land on the Martian surface, explore and then return to earth. This manned mission to Mars uses the optimum combination of the "Mars Direct" approach proposed by Robert Zubrin, and the NASA Reference Mission. The manned mission would use departure from the International Space Station (ISS), with a direct descent to Mars using aerobraking and parachutes, or a transfer vehicle may be left in orbit around Mars for the earth return.
The complete spacecraft system to be designed, including its Ground Control Segment, is named the MMVS (Manned Mars Vehicle System). Other components such as the propellant manufacturing plant and the nuclear power plant were assumed to be available. However, complete mission planning including the precursor unmanned mission to place these components on Mars was performed.
The results from the teams are summarized and compared. Student representatives will discuss their design and issues they found. This presentation focuses on the achievements of students by demonstrating results from the team websites where the final reports are mounted. Benefits to our students such as participation in events such as this Mars Society Conference are noted. Many former staff and student alumni are now employed in the space industry, or are enrolled in post-graduate programs in universities including the International Space University.
The Interactive Learning Connection - University Space Network (ILC-USN) is a consortium of North American Universities, Centres of Excellence, and Industry that has successfully established an Internet based course in "Spacecraft Systems Design". Since the fall of 1995, 255 undergraduate and 13 graduate students have completed this course at universities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.