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starship-design: Landis' Mars Plan

This paper is a little old and some of you have probably read it before, 
but going back through old files has brought forth a lot of little gems...

This is important not so much for the actual steps involved, but for the 
slowness of the timetable and Landis' assertion (correct unfortunately) 
about funding.

"Footsteps to Mars: An Incremental Approach to Mars Exploration," Geoffrey 
Landis, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 48, September 
1995, pp. 367-372.
Landis, an engineer (and award-winning science fiction author) at NASA's 
Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, presented the original version of 
this paper at the Case for Mars V conference in May 1993. He states that 
President Bush's "Space Exploration Initiative (SEI). . .is politically 
dead. It is viewed as an expensive Republican program with no place in the 
current era of deficit reduction. . .The political question is: how can we 
advocate Mars exploration without appearing to be attempting to revive S  
EI?" Landis proposes a new Mars exploration program which, he says, takes 
into account lessons taught by Apollo ("[i]f you accomplish your goal, your 
budget will be cut") and Shuttle ("if you do the same thing over and over, 
the public will focus on your failures and forget your successes"). Landis' 
program is a 14-year series of incremental "footsteps," which, he says, 
fits NASA's new "faster, better, cheaper" approach to spaceflight.
First footstep: Piloted Mars Flyby - A piloted Mars flyby mission relying 
on U.S. and Russian space station technology and existing boosters could 
occur "immediately," Landis writes. The 18-month mission demonstrates the 
transfer vehicle, long-duration interplanetary flight, and Earth return. 
During the flyby the astronauts take advantage of short two-way radio 
time-delays to teleoperate a rover on Mars. Relying on teleoperation helps 
ensure planetary quarantine while life on Mars remains an open issue. The 
rover leaves Earth separate from the piloted flyby craft.
Second footstep: Mars orbit and Deimos Landing - Landis reports that, with 
the possible exception of a few near-Earth asteroids, Mars' outer moon is 
the most easily accessible object outside of Earth orbit in terms of 
propellant needed to reach it. The mission demonstrates Mars orbit 
insertion and orbital operations, as well as trans-Earth injection. Landis 
adds that Deimos might become a resource base providing water that can be 
electrolyzed into hydrogen and oxygen rocket propellants.
Third footstep: Mars orbit and Phobos Landing - "From Phobos," Landis 
writes, "the view of Mars will be spectacular." Landis proposes that an 
unmanned version of the piloted Mars lander be tested while serving double 
duty as a sample-return vehicle. Phobos' low orbit allows the lander to 
launch Mars surface samples to Phobos for recovery by the crew.
Fourth footstep: Earth orbit operation & Moon landing - This footstep tests 
the Mars lander in Earth orbit and on the moon.
Fifth footstep: Mars Polar Landing - Landis writes that Mars' poles have 
readily accessible water that can be processed into fuel. In addition, the 
Sun remains in the sky continuously during local summer - a great advantage 
for solar power systems.
Sixth footstep: Mars Temperate Landing - This mission marks the culmination 
of Landis' program. Successfully accomplishing this step will, Landis 
maintains, result in budget cuts and program cancellation within two years. 
Seventh footstep: Valles Marineris landing - Landis proposes a landing in 
Mars' equatorial "Grand Canyon" as a spectacular coda which might be 
exciting enough to help delay program cancellation.
Landis states that finding easily exploitable resources on Deimos, Phobos, 
and Mars could lower costs, allowing piloted exploration to continue on "a 
shuttle-scale budget." He proposes that Mars replace the Cold War as a 
driver for western aerospace, thereby arresting the downsizing shaking 
western aerospace organizations. In addition, the Soviet Union's collapse 
makes Russia - with its Energia heavy-lift rocket, Mir modules, and 
long-duration spaceflight experience - available as a cooperative partner. 
Landis urges an immediate program start, saying that "despite indications, 
there is no better time to act."

                                                          (o o)
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;

William Allingham, Ireland, 1850