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#1 2003-01-18 00:56:46

From: Hampton Virginia
Registered: 2003-01-14
Posts: 60

Re: remember the MOL? sixties tech for mars - thre guys in a can with cameras for sam

Uncle sam commissioned some research and development back in the sixties for a small MOL, which would look like the upper stage of a rocket, but once you got into orbit and launched your satellite or whatever, the MOl would be in orbit with cameras and the like, and would be a manned spy satellite until a small capsule returned to earth with the crew and film... then another apollo capsule (might have been gemeni) would resupply the "lab" and bring up the next crew. I'm not sure if the first crew would return via the new capsule or if the capsule would be left for the new crew to return... in any case, it was a neat idea.

    I think we could do something like that for mars, leaving folks in mars orbit for extended periods, with small landing and return vehicles shuttling back and forth every few months. The orbital vehicle could be made of shuttle fuel tanks just shipped to mars with a strap on electric thruster system, and maybe ten or twelve pounds of nitrogen gas for an RCS/guidance system. Who cares how long it takes an empty hull to get to mars? with a launch every few months, they could send three or four of the tanks out, then send a teeny little command module with five or six astronauts, and a ten by ten by eight foot cylindrical compartment behind them so they could run around and not go totally crazy in the head.

>    I'm thinking they'd take playstation or something of that sort along so they could have some fun and break the tension instead of being utterly reclusive during the whole trip. (of course you'd have a fair compliment of exercise bikes and all that for zero G health maintenance, and maybe a tether to the burnt out upper stage, or another SS Fuel tank for artificial graity?) I'm thinking it would be neat to develop a time-delay web surfing device, where you could send an ISP request, then get the site a few minutes later, then put in your search to google or whatever, and then have it sent to you. Might be able to do it with a simple radio modem and just deal with the lag, who knows... anyhow, back to my main point,
     once the tanks are there, they'd enter mars orbit. You'd dock with one, and put on a self-welding collar to the end. They do this now with ship propellers. Aluminum powder is impregnated into a plastic strip, and iron oxide into another, then you literally tape the part in place with the strips, then run a current between the strips, triggering a thermite reaction that produces a perfect weld every time. It would be great in the vacuum of space, besides, a small plasma welder could be used once everything was linked up, to weld in gussets and the like for reinforcement. Once you're hooked up to one of the tanks you can load all your freeze dried food in to the tank for storage. The next tank could be filled to the brim with material, since you now have an empty tank to put the stuff in so you can have room to move around while you're unpacking. these tanks would be best suited to projects like sorting geological samples for testing on-orbit and potential return to earth for further study. I'm sure samples will be really interesting, but after the first hundred pounds or so, we'll start getting gads of samples that are exactly like something we've already got, so we'll want to screen them post-extraction, so we don't waste an equally large amount of fuel getting low-value samples back to earth. Besides, if you can ID the rocks and all on orbit, and return them to the surface, you know where you put them back, and can go back and collect the same samples again from their native environment without exposing them to all sorts of space radiation. I think I got sidetracked again, but the point is you'd have a nice big space on-orbit that would be cheap to acquire, since it's space junk to nasa, and relatively cheap to get to mars, since you can use the small amount of residual hydrogen in the tank for an ion propulsion system to utilize. Other advantages abound, but the cheif disadvantage is that I don't know what the internal structure of the tanks actually looks like. I know what it has to withstand, so it's perfect from a sheer strenght standpoint for a spacecraft or space laboratory, but whether there are room-sized spaces inside or not, i don't know. The whole tank could be baffled so densely that you couldn't wlak around in it, or it could be as open as a gas station underground storage tank, which you could easily play a regulation game of badminton in. Either way it might be useful at least for storage of pressure and temperature sensitive items for long periods. if a person couldn't fit between the baffles, you could cut a small passage, and at least stack your boxes of freeze dried broccoli in the thing, so you free up space for your mass spectrometers and all. If nothing else, we'll need a place to put all this ISPP fuel, so why not re-use the space shuttle's tank, and throw a big carbon fiber/ kevlar/ceramic aeroshield on the thing, toss a parachute pack on it, and throw it at the base station before you get started so you don't wind up turning your inflatable hab into the first manned whoopee cushion on mars. Then you just do your welding and fuel line routing when you get down to the surface and are able to roll the tank into place and pack some regolith around her to keep the whole shebang in place.
    I've gone on a bit longer than I expected, but I have a bunch of ideas. I really do need some folks to send me a message either through email or through the board's personal messenger service, so I can add some folks to our research group. We are at the point where we can start designing components and program requirements so people can have long-range contributions. I would like to get to a point where when we need a fifty dollar battery, someone in the group says "hey, i just sold my old mountain bike on E bay, why don't I buy it for the group", or "hey, you guys need someone to program that little chip to guide the solar panels? I work for a company that uses the same chip in toasters... I think i can help you out". anyhow, the only way that happens is if we get the word out to enough people. I figure if fifty thousand people hear about us, and twenty pecent decide to send us a check for ten dollars, we'll be funded through the rest of our budget. We only need about sixty thousand dollars to get to mars with MOLTOV, and our new microprobe precursor mission would only cost a few hundred to a thousand dollars to launch. Every step will bring us closer to a private, nonprofit, public-access mars mission, and eventually to an affordable, regularly scheduled flight to mars with private individuals and scientists aboard.
     Thanks for your time,
Rion Motley


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