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Entrespace Interplanetary Co-op

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:16 pm
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Micro-Space, and its nonprofit affiliate, Entrespace, are looking for qualified volunteers to review the “Entrespace Interplanetary Co-op” flight plans. The overall plan seeks to perfect lightweight systems to take adventurers from Low Earth Orbit to the Moon and Mars, and to facilitate such expeditions. Both orbital passes and surface explorations to these objectives are envisioned as well as “Near Earth Asteroid” visits.

These will of necessity be radically minimalized adventures, resembling early polar explorations or more recent rowboat ocean crossings. Those who can not conceive of crossing the Atlantic in a 64 inch long boat should not participate. (Hugo Vihlen accomplished this in 1993. He had crossed the Atlantic in a larger, 71 inch long boat, in 1968.) Ultralight interplanetary flight does not demand such tiny craft, but will include equally unconventional approaches with daunting challenges and risks. It will also involve large mass ratios with conventional chemical fuels: only radically reduced payload weight will make the space systems and Earth launch affordable.

We welcome rational skeptics provided that they have the competence to address the engineering questions and the discipline to keep distaste for the “style” of the expeditions from distorting their evaluations.

This group is not invited to discuss the desirability, value or morality of the difficult and risky missions outlined. It is being recruited to review the orbital mechanics and related technical details of the plan, and to supply published references where appropriate to either affirm or correct the plans. A subset of this group will be hired as consultants to help finalize operational plans when funding is in place for specific expeditions.

A core group of individuals has already been gathered who are willing and able to undertake these adventures. These are individuals with a passion for innovative personal spaceflight with a proven ability to build support and funding for risky adventures and bring them to successful completion. These individuals have already accomplished adventures inconceivable to the ordinary public and incapable of being characterized as “Tourist” activities.

Appropriate technologies have been identified for all the problems of ultralight interplanetary spaceflight, and many have been verified in breadboard form. The next step will be to complete operational prototypes of these systems, using a mixture of sponsorship and investment support, prior to accepting contracts for customized production. This is not meant to imply that all risks have been eliminated, for this is far from the case! What it means is that the risks have been brought into line with a mountaineering effort like climbing K2, possibly by a novel route. Those willing to face the effort, discomfort and risk of such an outing can be the first to walk on Mars and its moons.

As examples of the kind of technical review we now need, our analysis shows that 385 meters/sec. additional delta V, on top of acceleration to escape velocity from Low Earth Orbit, will stretch the flight path to reach mean Mars orbit. This seems too simple, requiring far less energy than insertion into geosynchronous orbit. We need to confirm this. A more complex enhancement is calculation of the delta V, with midcourse plane change, required to reach Mars for each of the oppositions in the next 15 years including return paths.

A similar complexity exists for conversion of a high eccentricity Mars parking orbit (for which capture can be accomplished with 300 meter/second aerobraking), by periapse realignment, into the precursor for a similar delta V transition to Earth return. This protocol retains most of the Mars escape energy in the interplanetary craft.

We look forward to contacting individuals with experience working with this type of problem.

Related: Official Micro-Space Forum

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