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#1 2018-04-24 20:39:38

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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Technology needed for Mars

I thought that the list as produced by kbd512 was worth putting into a seperate topic to see if there is anything else that is needed which is not already being worked on.

kbd512 wrote:

I think some intermediary steps between permanently living on a planet tens of millions of miles away and a brief series of lunar landings that took place before you and I were born may be required.  Nothing is actually ready to use yet.  We're at least 5 years out on basic technology development and prototype completion if we start today.  It'll take another 5 years of integration and operational testing after that to confirm that everything function together as intended.

Some of the major technological development efforts required and government agencies and/or companies that could be expected to develop them are shown below:

Alcoa / Baker-Hughes - Mars drilling equipment for water extraction (they've done fairly extensive test and evaluation of aluminum piping for a variety of drilling purposes and their core competencies match up very closely with what's needed for this purpose)

Boeing Network and Space Systems / Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company / Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems - Mars Global Positioning System for precision geolocating

Dyson - Mars atmosphere pre-processors for dust separation for ISPP / ISRU and habitat cleaning vacuums

Hamilton-Sundstrand - Sabatier reactors

Honeywell / JPL / NASA - avionics software systems development and navigation

IBM - rad-hard microprocessors for computerized systems (nearly everything today)

ILC Dover - planetary exploration space suits

NASA / Desktop Metal / Markforged / Voxel - 3D printing of metal, composite, and plastic parts for contingency repairs

NASA / DOE - Radioisotope Heating Units / RHU's for keep-alive warmth and for melting ice using heated drill heads

NASA / DOE - KiloPower fission reactors for backup electrical power

NASA / Paragon SDC - CAMRAS atmospheric scrubbers and IWP waste water processors

NASA / Bigelow Aerospace - inflatable habitat modules

Orbital ATK - Solar panels and PMAD

PCI - miniature Sabatier reactors for life support

SpaceX / NASA - BFR and launch services infrastructure for use of super heavy lift launch vehicles

Tesla / Panasonic - Lithium-Ion batteries

Thales / Alenia Aerospace - Cygnus PCM cargo modules for orbital on-demand resupply missions

The Boring Company - electric high speed (relatively speaking) tunneling machines for habitat module bore holes to provide GCR protection

There's too much technology development required for a single company to handle.  All the companies listed above have core competencies that SpaceX does not.  SpaceX makes rockets, rocket engines, and pressurized spacecraft.  It's never manufactured a GPS satellite or sent any spacecraft into deep space.  A Tesla Roadster doesn't count.  I can guarantee that they know nothing about drilling operations and they purchase things like solar panels and batteries from other companies.  BFR' structure is being fabricated by a marine composites company for SpaceX because that company has the expertise required to do that and SpaceX does not.  Take the very best that industry and government research can offer and there's a decent chance that whatever is produced is suitable for playing its small but important part in this massive undertaking.

Technology for artificial gravity generation seems not on any front by any of the general players. Granted we know that if we frankestien it together and tumble or spin we will get something but its more than that which needs the technology developement.

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#2 2018-04-24 21:10:00

SpaceNut
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Re: Technology needed for Mars

From  Void posted link NASA to make orbiting lunar base decision in early 2019

Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corp. or Space Systems/Loral are finishing four-month studies on how to best build a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.

The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, the contract for the first part of the gateway, a power and propulsion element....

The five companies vying to build the power element under NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, are looking to design it so that the gateway can use solar electric propulsion to maintain its position around the moon and adjust its lunar orbit. The power element will also need to provide an array of communication capability including space-to-Earth, space-to-moon, spacecraft-to-spacecraft and be able to talk to spacewalkers.

The communication plan is to include laser data transfer, as opposed to radio, which allows for faster and larger data package delivery.
After the power comes the habitation space in 2023, which will once again allow for competition from the NextSTEP partnerships. Other additions will be an airlock to allow for spacewalks and a logistics module to allow for cargo resupply.

The plan then is to have the lunar platform orbiting the moon by 2025 and allow for the eventual plan for humans to return to the moon's surface as well as explore potential of the moon's resources to help supply elements that could be turned into propellant for deep-space missions.

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#3 2018-04-25 04:52:32

louis
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From: UK
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Re: Technology needed for Mars

I commented on Kbd's list under "Some general observations".

I would add communications is an obvious requirement.  I presume Space X plan to latch on to NASA's space coms network. Enhanced coms would be a priority for me as I think this is an area that has lagged behind and it would be helpful in ensuring the safety of the pioneers (e.g. if one got injured, being able to send high quality video of the injury back to Earth could help save a life). Visually in terms of what we get back from Mars we still seem to be in the stone age.  The BFS cargo load could of course land large coms equipment on the Mars surface, but not sure if that is the only issue - presumably there is an issue over the signals sent from any communicating satellites.

Digging through the frozen regolith needs attention.  Presumably this can be resolved with use of microwave machine attachments to unbind the frozen regolith, turning it into something more slushy.

All the technologies associated with propellant production need to be given priority under the Space X model.

Although a recent robot anaesthetist machine has been pulled from the market for poor sales, I think it should perhaps be taken to Mars - it could be v. useful if any emergency ops have to take place. Likewise, we probably need an X Ray machine at least and maybe an ultrasound machine.

We need I think weighted overall suits and cap for general day to day wear on Mars, to simulate 1 G. Lead or other weights would be incorporated in the cap, shoulders and waist belt and at the knees and ankles. Or maybe you'd go for 1.2 G effect wearing it from 6am to 6pm, and in the evening you get to relax/work out in the gym in casual clothes (that might be better psychologically).

An artificially lit small salad farm hab operation would be useful for Mission One. This looks to be already a done deal in the Antarctic. Just need to be pick crops that have been show to grow OK in zero G.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#4 2018-04-25 12:34:01

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
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Re: Technology needed for Mars

Louis,  your weighted clothing idea addresses bone and muscle loss.  It may (or more likely may not) address heart weakening,  since it is not an aerobic-type exercise stressor.  It will do nothing for loss of visual acuity (a pressure gradient effect),  nothing for immune system degradation (about which we still know nothing),  and nothing for the genetic changes (not even suspected until this year).  It's not the "answer for everything low-gee".  Sorry,  but it's just not.  It might be a part of the solution,  but that's all. 

The communications/global location thing comes into play when you land more than one vehicle at the same site.  You need very precise information for precise trajectory control leading up to entry.  All you can do during is fly inertial guidance to an expected trajectory,  because the plasma sheath blocks all radio and radar.  It pretty well disturbs optical sighting,  too.  You enter blind.  Period.   

Once the hypersonics are over,  if you weigh over a ton,  you are at low altitude (~5 km) and scant seconds from impact.  You have precision flight control with retropropulsion,  but only for a short time to land,  so you cannot be very far off on your entry positioning,  or you will miss the entire landing zone considerably.  A radar beacon on the site can get you within meters.  Without that,  circular error probable is nearer a km or more. 

Without global positioning prior to entry,  and with post-entry chutes you cannot steer,  the circular error probable with probes under 1 ton was in the neighborhood of 5 km.

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#5 2018-04-25 17:06:17

SpaceNut
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Re: Technology needed for Mars

First mission will always be the hardest as we will need a fully fleshed out plan that must be followed to a T.

Plus the list is missing a ride of some size for mission exploration.

Communication via crew back to earth as well will need an upgrade to go with a GPS relay system to keep earth in full time coverage.

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#6 2018-04-25 18:09:29

louis
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From: UK
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Posts: 4,900

Re: Technology needed for Mars

GW, I never said it was the answer for everything: it's the basic answer for bone and muscle loss, combined of course with a still strenuous work out regime both in transit and (to a lesser extent) on Mars. The immunity issue remains unresolved but most astronauts live to a reasonable old age.

I presume the last few minutes the descending BFS has slowed sufficiently for it to be able to have radio contact with the surface (ie with transponders) and to switch on radar to identify the topography using pre-programmed topographical info.  Incidentally would a laser work through a plasma? That might be another way to accurate landing.

GW Johnson wrote:

Louis,  your weighted clothing idea addresses bone and muscle loss.  It may (or more likely may not) address heart weakening,  since it is not an aerobic-type exercise stressor.  It will do nothing for loss of visual acuity (a pressure gradient effect),  nothing for immune system degradation (about which we still know nothing),  and nothing for the genetic changes (not even suspected until this year).  It's not the "answer for everything low-gee".  Sorry,  but it's just not.  It might be a part of the solution,  but that's all. 

The communications/global location thing comes into play when you land more than one vehicle at the same site.  You need very precise information for precise trajectory control leading up to entry.  All you can do during is fly inertial guidance to an expected trajectory,  because the plasma sheath blocks all radio and radar.  It pretty well disturbs optical sighting,  too.  You enter blind.  Period.   

Once the hypersonics are over,  if you weigh over a ton,  you are at low altitude (~5 km) and scant seconds from impact.  You have precision flight control with retropropulsion,  but only for a short time to land,  so you cannot be very far off on your entry positioning,  or you will miss the entire landing zone considerably.  A radar beacon on the site can get you within meters.  Without that,  circular error probable is nearer a km or more. 

Without global positioning prior to entry,  and with post-entry chutes you cannot steer,  the circular error probable with probes under 1 ton was in the neighborhood of 5 km.

GW

Last edited by louis (2018-04-25 18:10:07)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#7 2018-04-26 12:51:16

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
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Re: Technology needed for Mars

From the Mach 3 point,  you are seconds,  not minutes,  from impact.  Retropropulsion extends that,  but not to minutes. 

The plasma sheath blocks all radio and on-board radar,  although it reflects ground-based radar back to ground quite well.  It pretty well blocks visual-optical,  so I don't see lasers working,  either. 

Some sort of GPS-equivalent gets you Earth-like precision with your retro-burn and initial entry.  The hypersonics are done with inertial nav to a pre-programmed profile.  Once out of hypersonics at M3 and 4-5 km altitude,  there's only several seconds left to touchdown,  at 1-2 gees worth of retro deceleration thrust.  I think the Spacex simulation shows about 60 seconds. 

That's a real nail-biter of a ride.  No time for tercom, but you could home in a little bit on a radar transponder.  Only because you can gimbel your thrust for a bit of steering. 

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2018-04-26 12:56:15)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#8 2018-04-26 14:06:14

Oldfart1939
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Posts: 1,718

Re: Technology needed for Mars

The need for GPS is obvious but the current state-of-the-art GPS airliner landing systems are coordinated with additional ground-based transponders, called WAAS. WAAS stands for Wide Area Augmentation System, which has been in widespread use now for >10 years. My Piper Dakota has a Garmin 530W flight control system, and the computer in it can fly instrument approaches with some human assistance, but landing is still by the onboard backup system called the pilot.

This is how SpaceX pulls off these precision landings.

Last edited by Oldfart1939 (2018-04-26 14:10:11)

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#9 2018-04-26 15:39:12

louis
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From: UK
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Posts: 4,900

Re: Technology needed for Mars

I don't see why Space X would need GPS to land on Mars. Has Space X or Musk himself made any statement to that effect? I don't recall any such statement. Longer term he has plans for improved communications which will no doubt include something like GPS but I would dispute it is a necessary part of Mission One.

My recollection is that you have something like a 20 km stretched oval/elipse as the likely landing zone for Mars robot craft. Is that about right?  If I have recalled that correctly then surely in that last minute or so as you dip below supersonic speeds.

Not sure if about the status of this analysis:

https://i.redditmedia.com/bFoVbspJVEdkW … 0d8d664eb4

If I am reading it correct, then radio reception resumes at around 23 kms altitude...whether it's lower or higher on Mars I wouldn't know. I'm guessing there's about a minute to find the landing area, which is quite a lot of time I would think given the speeds involved.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#10 2018-04-26 19:08:35

SpaceNut
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Re: Technology needed for Mars

The terrain method is how we are currently landing on Mars and the elispe for landing within is quite large and there is little to no last minute landing site alteration possible.

The Skycrane landing was an improvement but until we are doing retropropulsion we will not get much better. The gain is we lose the Parachute that is problematic on entry plus drift and we gain better control of high and low altitude control.

Repeating:
Going with a high technology that can not be repaired is also dangerous to any crew on Mars or anywhere along the route to or from earth to Mars when it breaks. So we need a robust technology that has a very high dependability to all of the items we need for mars. To call it low tech is not wuite the term I would chose but from the experience of naval component use I would say that tried and true are what we should go with as we have a track record to failure and how to go about repairing them.

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#11 2018-04-26 20:23:55

Oldfart1939
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Re: Technology needed for Mars

Louis-

The GPS system will enable the proper entry attitude and trajectory, but the WAAS system of transponders will enable an accurate landing at the desired set of coordinates. This is why SpaceX needs a GPS-WAAS system in place before trying to land..

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#12 2018-05-25 21:59:02

SpaceNut
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Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,144

Re: Technology needed for Mars

New material detects the amount of UV radiation and helps monitor radiation dose

melanoma-cancer-skin-hg.jpg

UV radiation is known to cause many skin and eye diseases such as cancer. Therefore, it is essential to have a simple method for detecting the quantity and quality of UV radiation.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C8MH00308D

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#13 2018-11-20 18:54:33

SpaceNut
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Re: Technology needed for Mars

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/main/index.html

Technology Demonstration Missions

NASA's Technology Demonstration Missions bridge the gap between scientific and engineering challenges and the technological innovations needed to overcome them, enabling robust new space missions.

Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC)
Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC)
Evolvable Cryogenics Project (eCryo)
Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM)
In-space Robotic Manufacturing and Assembly (IRMA)
Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)
Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID)
Mars 2020 Overview
Satellite Servicing
Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP

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#14 2019-03-03 16:19:39

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,900

Re: Technology needed for Mars

For me this list shows why NASA is really not the body to get us to Mars. My view is if we can get robots to Mars that have survived for longer than a decade then we can get humans there and back if we have the will to innovate and engineer the required solutions.  What is missing in NASA is the focus, the will. They are all over the place and I think a culture has grown up where they actually like being...well, all over the place.  That way they avoid internal and external conflict quite nicely. They at least satisfy all the predatory lobbies to some extent and keep them off their backs. Internally, everyone gets a piece of the pie.

SpaceNut wrote:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/main/index.html

Technology Demonstration Missions

NASA's Technology Demonstration Missions bridge the gap between scientific and engineering challenges and the technological innovations needed to overcome them, enabling robust new space missions.

Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC)
Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC)
Evolvable Cryogenics Project (eCryo)
Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM)
In-space Robotic Manufacturing and Assembly (IRMA)
Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD)
Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID)
Mars 2020 Overview
Satellite Servicing
Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#15 2019-03-09 16:23:51

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 2,957

Re: Technology needed for Mars

For both going to Mars and for solving Earth's ongoing energy challenges associated with transportation technology, it's time to add to the list of technologies that need to be developed.

NASA Technology Roadmaps TA 10: Nanotechnology

Bally Ribbon Mills / DexMat / Minnesota Wire / Boeing -> CNT / Carbon NanoTube fabrics and composites (structures, wiring conductors, meta materials for integrated electronics)

Lightweight CNT Cables for Aerospace

Carbon Fibers and Carbon Nanotube based Materials

Carbon Conductors for Lightweight Motors and Generators

Structural Carbon Nanotube-Based Composites: Developing Composite Technology to Rehabilitate Aging Bridges

Electrical Properties of Carbon Nanotube Based Fibers and Their Future Use in Electrical Wiring

Lightweight, flexible, high-performance carbon nanotube cables made by scalable flow coating

Millipore Sigma / BNNT.COM -> BNNT / Boron-Nitride NanoTube fabrics and composites (radiation shielding, wiring insulation)

Lightweight, Ultra-Strong Nanotubes to Transform Industry

Radiation Shielding Materials Containing Hydrogen, Boron, and Nitrogen: Systematic Computational and Experimental Study

Boron Nitride Nanotube: Synthesis and Applications

Boron Nitride Nanotubes: Properties, Synthesis and Applications

(everybody and their dog is working on this) -> Graphene (solar panels, super capacitors, battery electrodes, microelectronics, molecular sieves, biomedical devices, pharmaceuticals, and an endless number of other potential applications)

This is always in the news, so a quick Google search will turn up anything that interests you.

CNT, BNNT, Aerographite, Aerographene, Graphene, and 3D woven fabrics and composites are the materials of the near future.  We must have these new materials technologies ready to apply to the veritable slew of structural, protective, and electronic applications that require vastly stronger / better / faster materials.  In 2017, the Chinese and NASA's contractors figured out how to make defect-free CNT's that have all or nearly all of their theoretical strength and other material properties.  The manufacturers are now in the process of scaling up the fabrication mills to produces mass quantities of these materials.

Research into combining these new materials (like weaving kevlar and carbon fiber together to achieve unique properties for composites, just to provide an example of how materials combinations with different properties can produce useful aerospace products), meta materials (embedded electronics, sensors, etc), and experiments to determine what the best uses for the new materials (reaching into our bag of tricks to select the best materials for the job) are ongoing and will remain so for decades to come.

In another 10 years or so, there shouldn't be an aerospace structure made from metal (airframes or habitat modules or vehicle chassis, not engines or heat shields or other high-temperature applications where metals are still useful).  In construction, steel beams and rebar can be replaced by Graphene rebar.

I know exactly where we can get an endless supply of uncontaminated virgin material to do this.  There are constant complaints about the difficulty of obtaining pure source Carbon uncontaminated by metals or other elements that create weakening occlusions in CNT's and Graphene.  Why should we bury CO2 or try to turn it back into fuel when we can obtain more valuable structural materials from that Carbon that preclude the need to burn so much fuel to begin with?

Climeworks Atmospheric CO2 scrubbers

Do the tree huggers at Climeworks comprehend that if it only costs them $100 to extract 1 ton of CO2 (around 27% Carbon by weight), that their operating costs are so far below what we spend to extract 1 ton of pure Carbon that it's just laughable?  They could make an absolute killing off of selling the high quality Carbon powder that these CNT and Graphene fabrication processes require.  Pure elemental Carbon costs $24,000/t.  The extraction method that Climeworks uses would only cost $400/t of Carbon.  That's a 40x cost reduction.  Sell that EUV laser-extracted atomic Carbon dust for $600/t and you're making 50% profit.  Want to lower the cost of CNT and Graphene?  Lower the cost of the base material.  $24K to $0.6K is a monumental cost reduction.  Costs for Graphene have already fallen from $100/g to $30/kg to $50/kg, but only by using stocks of low quality and unsustainable scrap material from the coal and petrochemicals industries.  As production capacity ramps up, those prices can only fall further with a sustainable source of high quality Carbon from CO2.  Prior to zapping the CO2 with the UV laser, we'd want to separate the C13 and C14 from the C12, probably through gaseous diffusion, so that we could use the radioactive C14 as a manufacturer's identification marking embedded into the material.

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#16 2019-03-09 21:32:17

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,144

Re: Technology needed for Mars

kbd512 wrote:

Elderflower,

Seems like a good combo to me if we're using pump-fed engines.  All we need is Martian atmosphere and electrical power.  At 3,000psi, LOX/LCO specific impulse is basically equivalent to LOX/LCH4 sea-level performance.

Carbon Monoxide and Oxygen Combustion Experiments: A Demonstration of Mars In Situ Propellants

This study seems to indicate that we'd require 27% less electrical power, too.  At some point, the total mass and complexity of all systems required to make this a reality should be considered.  LOX/LCO is low-risk compared to the non-existent LCH4 plant and ice mining equipment we'd need to make a LCH4-fueled rocket / lander work.  The Isp increase is nice, but not if it means that we just negate all of that with increased infrastructure mass required to provide the infrastructure to produce propellant.  LOX and LCO can be made using existing technology, so R&D costs would also be lower.  In the future, we could always switch to LOX/LCH4 after we find the ice, determine how to mine it, and how to build a LCH4 plant that works on Mars.

A Comparison of Preliminary Design Concepts for Liquid, Solid and Hybrid Propelled Mars Ascent Vehicles Using In-Situ Propellants

I think the Rutherford engine tech from Electron Labs that sucks the tanks dry and using battery-powered electrical turbo pumps is worth a look.  There are no propellant residuals to prevent the turbo pumps from exploding, unlike gas generators or staged combustion, and electrical control over the pumps for deep throttling.  Just like staged combustion, all the propellant goes through the combustion chamber after it's been used to regeneratively cool the combustion chamber.  The engines are so small and light that they're human-portable on Earth.

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#17 2019-03-09 21:35:16

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,144

Re: Technology needed for Mars

kbd512 wrote:

Void,

NASA has determined that pound-for-pound, the best defense against SPE's and GCR's would be a woven BNNT fabric or composite.  They're trying to determine how to use it as a structural material to save weight, because it's also very strong and light, but a woven blanket or mat of the material is also suitable for shielding purposes.  I've already posted docs for this in another thread dedicated to radiation shielding.

The AFRL has determined that aerographite would also be good shielding material against electromagnetic radiation, though probably not against SPE's and GCR's.  It's one of the lightest structural foam materials known to man, lighter than structural aerogel foam, much stronger than aerogel, and far more compressible without cracking or permanent deformation.

Physical Properties of 3D Interconnected Graphite Networks - Aerographite

Water would be great, but it's too heavy for space applications.  We'd still need lots of it for other purposes, but probably can't deliver enough to use it as passive radiation shielding.  I think NASA determined that they'd need 2m or more to keep radiation dose rates within currently allowable limits.

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#18 2019-06-16 19:25:55

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,144

Re: Technology needed for Mars

It also looks like we need a variety of fuel cells for the insitu made chemicals which when combined would give use power from stored mars activity to create power and fuels and so much more.

Here is one more....
New core-shell catalyst for ethanol fuel cells

"Ethanol fuel cells are lightweight compared to batteries. They would provide sufficient power for operating drones using a liquid fuel that's easy to refill between flights - even in remote locations,"

Which goes with the other airplane topic....

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#19 2019-06-29 13:43:22

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,144

Re: Technology needed for Mars

The key to succeeding on mars will be partly in what we do bring but also from what we use of mars Paragon Space Development Corp awarded NASA contract for ISRU technology for the development and testing of the ISRU-derived water purification and Hydrogen Oxygen Production (IHOP) affordability of future human spaceflight missions by limiting the need to launch supplies, such as oxygen, water, and propellant from Earth.

The IHOP system purifies naturally occurring deposits of water and generates oxygen and hydrogen at commercially competitive scales. Once delivered to the moon, IHOP will provide the water and oxygen needed for a continuous human presence on the moon, and the low cost propellant needed to explore the solar system.

lightweight electrolyzer technology which is the direct product of over 30 years of PEM electrolyzer development with NASA for life support, energy storage and ISRU

kbd512 wrote:

SpaceNut,

Paragon SDC has been leading the charge for better life support technology for space applications and I've posted about the research work they're doing for NASA a number of times in various topics.  They're the ones who have come up with some of the most highly efficient, lightweight, low-power-consumption technologies for air and water recycling for NASA and others.  They were always an obvious choice to develop life-support-related ISRU technology for Mars.  Giner Inc, the company developing the electrolyzer, does work for the Navy, as well as other branches of our military.

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#20 2019-06-29 14:00:54

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,144

Re: Technology needed for Mars

Yes Paragon SDC is important as a player in the Nasa Plan but they are not the only one which can be a provider but making product for big money...
We have discussed the company a bit in Fuel Cell Development, Application, Prospects , International Space Station (ISS / Alpha), Light weight rover for Mars, Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and at least another half a dozen more....

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#21 2019-06-29 17:05:09

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 2,957

Re: Technology needed for Mars

SpaceNut,

About a year ago, Louis was saying we needed a laser terrain imaging / navigation system for precision landing.

How about a laser that could also tell you how "solid" what you're about to land on happens to be?:

Free-electron laser benefits from 'seed' light

The primary "benefit" of such a system is that it remains functional throughout the entire EDL sequence, even when the plasma sheath envelopes the inbound spacecraft.

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#22 2019-06-29 17:48:46

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,144

Re: Technology needed for Mars

laser scanning, topography Lidar is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Topographic LIDAR typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land. Where by the sensor is a laser amplifier to capture the Subsurface Mapping Using Ground Penetrating Radar technique of the electrons that are not visible in the return light.

One could land 3 insights around the landing zone and using the maul hammer and listening with the others map out the same terrain...

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#23 2019-06-29 18:07:29

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 2,957

Re: Technology needed for Mars

SpaceNut,

Speaking of new laser technology, this type of technology could potentially be used to both split Carbon from CO2 and to arrange the Carbon into Carbon Nanotubes:

Twisted light gains angular momentum through ‘self-torque’

Rather than "growing" CNT's on substrates, we could assemble them at the atomic level to create near-perfect tubes of unlimited length.

This technology has several potential applications, but the most obvious are CNT fabrication, single-step CO2 splitting with light at EUV wavelengths, and eliminating the need for expensive Carbon refining steps, as the frequency of the light could be adjusted to "eject" impurities as the tube is being fabricated.

It's not a suitable replacement for more efficient low-power, low-heat CO2 separation technologies used for life support, but industrial scale CNT manufacturing without the ovens / chemicals / substrates used in CNT "growing" operations would be quite useful on Mars and Earth.  To start with, you don't really need a chemistry set.  A rich CO2 source, a few lasers, and weaving machines could create the fabric used to make inflatable habitation modules.  Equally important, the additional energy imparted produce to CH4 gas on Mars could be used to synthesize more storable Propane / LC3H8, which liquefies under similar temperatures and pressures as LNH3.  The CNT fiber in the propellant tanks could easily withstand the greater pressures without additional weight.  That could provide a high-Isp cryo-fuel that would easily liquefy at night without additional energy input and be stored in tanks produced on Mars, rather than transported to Mars.  The bulk density of LOX/LC3H8 is similar to LOX/RP1, but the fuel requires comparatively modest insulation.  The tank itself and near-vacuum would be sufficient, meaning only the LOX would require active refrigeration.  The Carbon chain is also so short that polymerization remains a non-issue.

NITROUS OXIDE / HYDROCARBON FUEL ADVANCED CHEMICAL PROPULSION: DARPA CONTRACT OVERVIEW

This work, in response to DARPA BAA 99-22, topic title "Small Scale Propulsion Systems," focused on the development of a nitrous oxide (N2O) / propane (C3H8) rocket engine (NOP), that utilizes catalytic decomposition of N2O as an ignition system for propane. This propellant combination is proposed as an alternative to the present space propulsion systems that use hypergolic or cryogenic liquids, or solid propellants. Phase I work has resulted in a successful demonstration of the key technologies associated with the development of such a propulsion system.

Imagine that we don't want to transport an entire chemical refinery to Mars, especially the storage tanks and hoses.  Instead we bring a mold for the CNT tanks and produce the CNT and polymers for the composite in-situ.  Similarly, the propellant transfer hoses and seals could also be fabricated on Mars, using locally sourced materials, with minimal tooling.

For habitation, we would produce CNT fabric inflatables with CNT regolith bags (like a HESCO barrier) for radiation shielding.  The equipment to make this stuff from scratch is much lighter and more compact than dragging all of that stuff with us from Earth, even though it requires a lot of power, which we'll need in abundance to make the propellant to get home.  We also need some kind of a rock grinder to produce the fine regolith powder to fill the bags, but again, still far lighter than bringing adequate radiation protection with us.

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#24 2019-06-29 18:44:31

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,144

Re: Technology needed for Mars

Laser light will follow a medium such as water even at right angles or curves so having it contained in a gas plasma field seem possible.

Nitrous oxide can be catalytically decomposed using a wide variety of catalysts, including
platinum, iridium, rhodium, tungsten carbide, copper, cobalt, and gold. The decomposition process is
exothermic resulting in nitrogen and oxygen at 2988 oF, for complete decomposition. This hot oxidizer will
ignite propane (and most hydrocarbon fuels) on contact and will facilitate sustained combustion in a
rocket combustion chamber.

So safe none cryrogenic temperatures only need to decompose to a high temperature to auto ignite the propane....

nitrous oxide and propane both store as high-pressure liquids. This
facilitates self-pressurization, which eliminates the need for a pressurant system. Although high-pressure
storage (750 psia for nitrous oxide, 125 psia for propane) increases tank weight, this can be mitigated
with the use of a variety of low-weight, high-strength composite materials. Although the vapor pressure
for propane is quite low, it can be pressurized with nitrous oxide utilizing a single tank with a diaphragm.

Means no heated helium tank to have explode...

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#25 2019-07-21 12:40:41

kbd512
Moderator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 2,957

Re: Technology needed for Mars

Here's a new technology required for Mars- composites made without autoclaves / ovens to generate composite parts that are just as strong as the autoclaved parts, but using just 1% of the energy input normally required:

Taking aircraft manufacturing out of the oven - New technique uses carbon nanotube film to directly heat and cure composite materials.

Edit:

Going hand-in-hand with the idea of using 3D-woven CNT fabrics to fabricate aerospace structures, for parts that need to be composites, it should be possible to weave a CNT fabric over a mold, adjusting the thickness or weave pattern to produce the desired mechanical properties for a given part, and then electrifying both the fabric in the composite and the CNT wrap used for curing the composite to produce a very strong, yet lightweight part.  Thereafter, the electrified composite could be dipped into or sprayed with a polymer powder for UV protection of the composite, using electrostatic adhesion to cause a layer of powder to adhere / melt to the composite.  Come to think of it, that's just laser printer technology in action.  That should greatly reduce the requirement for sanding to achieve the desired part dimensions and coating thickness.  Finally, a thin clear layer of plastic could be "shrink wrapped" over the surface.  That would provide surface protection against minor scratches from bugs and dust.  The recyclable plastic wrap would be periodically inspected and removed / replaced, as required.

The labor and technology required to do this is minimal and more cost-effective than current methods.

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