2028. The Space Exploration Initiative: Plans and Prospects


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B M Cordell: 2028. The Space Exploration Initiative: Plans and Prospects. 1991.



An overview of the technical issues, program rationals, and prospects for near-term implementation of the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) – featuring human and robotic missions to the Moon and Mars and the establishment of permanent manned bases on these bodies – is presented. Strong cases can be made for lunar outposts devoted to science, exploration, and technology development. Unlike the Moon, Mars has all the necessities for human life and indeed is the most Earth-like extraterrestrial site. Once human operations have been established on the Red Planet, Mars has the potential to become ”Earth II.” An initial human base on Phobos (a Martian satellite) may be the most efficient, inexpensive, and responsible way to begin the human exploration and settlement of Mars. Although nuclear propulsion and extraterrestrial propellant production require some development, they offer greater mission flexibility, reduced weights in low Earth orbit, and reduced crew mission times and risks, when compared to Earth-based chemical propulsion Mars missions. Human-related issues present the most unknowns, including g levels, crew systems reliability, radiation hazards, health maintenance, and several key psycho-social issues. For functional stability and social ease, early Mars mission crews may be limited to married couples. Lunar and Mars science questions are well defined and techniques for producing important consumables and other products from Lunar and Mars resources are easily envisioned. It appears that the human exploration of the Moon and Mars is an excellent investment in the future of civilization. A properly conceived SEI program should be able to positively influence international relations and prosperity by stimulating education and advances in science and technology, creating new commercial opportunities, and raising the human spirit.


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