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Douglas conjunction-class Mars mission (1965)

20 Feb 2012, 17:28 UTC
Douglas conjunction-class Mars mission (1965)
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In September 1964, the Douglas Aircraft Company began a nine-month study of a conjunction-class Mars mission on contract to NASA Headquarters. Wernher von Braun's 1950s Mars studies and Philip Bono's 1960 Mars plan (middle image above) described conjunction-class expeditions, but in the 1960s most Mars mission plans were opposition class. The names refer to the position of Mars relative to Earth about halfway through the expedition. In the former, Mars would pass behind the Sun as seen from Earth (that is, would reach conjunction); in the latter, Mars would be opposite the Sun in Earth's skies (that is, it would reach opposition). A conjunction-class expedition would include low-energy transfers to and from Mars, each lasting about six months, and a long stay at Mars - roughly 500 days. Expedition duration would total about 1000 days. An opposition-class expedition would have one low-energy and one high-energy transfer separated by a short stay at Mars - typically around 30 days. Duration would total about 600 days. Because it would require more energy, the opposition-class Mars expedition would require more propellants. All else being equal, a purely propulsive opposition-class expedition might need more than 10 times more propellants than a purely propulsive conjunction-class ...

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