Pressurised vehicle prototype for crewed exploration of Mars
Mann, G. (2013) Pressurised vehicle prototype for crewed exploration of Mars. In: 10th Annual Asia-Oceania Geophysical Conference (AOGS) 2013, 24 - 28 June 2013, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Australia.
Project Marsupial is an R&D effort initiated by the Mars Society Australia to decide on the requirements, design and operational procedures for a crewed, pressurized, long-range surface exploration vehicle for Mars exploration (Mann, 2006). Such a vehicle would be capable of carrying up to four persons away from the base camp at a Mars landing site for days to weeks at a time. This research draws on experience during pressurised vehicle simulations at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah (Mann, et al., 2004) and on extensive conceptual design studies (Mann, 2005; Clarke, Mann & Willson, 2008). The main deliverables of the project are the Starchaser Rover, the working prototype, together with development notes and performance data recorded during a series of simulated test operations in Mars-like desert regions. As a medium-fidelity prototype that must be practically and legally drivable over long distances on Australian roads, the Starchaser Rover cannot address certain technical issues, such as power plant, transmission and man-rated life support equipment engineering. Instead, the Starchaser strives to approximate the living and working facilities required for long duration excursions into the Martian environment. Nevertheless some important questions may be addressed including i) what is the optimal crew size for vehicle exploration? ii) what equipment is needed for successful exploration work? iii) what are the optimal exploration strategies that must be adopted for safe operation of a crewed vehicle? iv) how far from a Mars habitat can a crewed vehicle safely travel? and v) does the vehicle need to be completely pressurized? The purpose-built machine is presently undergoing construction in Tasmania and is principally funded by Starchaser Industries, a UK aerospace company. The aim is to empirically explore design options that add to the body of knowledge available for the construction of future flight hardware.
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