THE USE OF SS-18 ICBMÕS FOR ROBOTIC EXPLORATION OF MARS
Bruce Lusignan, Mauro Villa, Scott Gleason, Carmel Levitan, and Drew Syphus
Under the START treaties, the United States and Russia have agreed to reduced the number of strategic delivery vehicles (ballistic missiles and heavy bombers) and the number of warheads deployed on them. In START I, deployed SLBMs and most deployed ICBMs may be removed from accountability either by destroying their launchers or, with the exception of SS-18 silos, by converting the launcher so that it is only capable of launching another type of missile. Under START II, those rules will continue to apply, but with the major exception of the SS-18. Ninety SS-18 silos may be converted to launch a single-warhead ICBM, which Russia has said will be a variant of the SS-25. The START II treaty provisions specify conversion procedures which are subject to inspection and which are virtually irreversible without destroying the silo. In addition to the elimination or conversion of SS-18 silo launchers, all SS-18 ICBMs, whether deployed or non-deployed, must be eliminated no later than January 1, 2003. This is a major improvement on START I, which did not require the destruction of any silo-based missiles. Moreover, this provision achieves the long-standing U.S. goal of totally eliminating heavy ICBMs. Ó
START III is in the planning phases. Present export laws of the United States are extremely complicated and so launching any US technologies will be difficult, but other nations are eligible for use of the SS-18Õs as well. Under the Nunn-Lugar threat reduction program, launch costs would be quite low. As a symbol of peace and international cooperation, SS-18 launches for scientific purposes are highly desirable.
This paper analyzes the utilization of converted Russian SS-18 launchers for Mars's scientific payloads. As previously discussed, use of the launchers for scientific rather than military purposes is sound, both monetarily and technically. An SS-18 with an extended fairing configuration must be used in order to perform the additional maneuvers. However, these modifications are feasible, as we will discuss in the paper. The basic functionality of the Dnepr launch vehicle and the modified Minuteman missile was demonstrated this year by the launches of UoSAT-12 and OPAL satellites, respectively.