The Space Launch System and the Proving Ground: Pathways to Mars
Abstract:Introduction: The Space Launch System (SLS) is the most powerful rocket ever built and provides a critical heavy-lift launch capability. We present mission concepts relevant to NASA’s Cislunar Proving Ground and the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER).
Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM): ARM in part is a mission to the lunar vicinity. The ARM mission requirements result in system design based on a modified version of our 702 spacecraft. Including a NASA Docking System (NDS) on the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle allows for easier crewed exploration integration and execution.
Exploration Augmentation Module (EAM): Crew operations at a redirected asteroid could be significantly enhanced by providing additional systems and EVA capabilities beyond those available from the Orion only. An EAM located with the asteroid would improve the science and technical return of the asteroid mission while also increasing Orion capability through resource provision and providing an abort location and safe haven for contingencies. The EAM could be repurposed as a cislunar exploration platform that advances scientific research, enables lunar surface exploration and provides a deep space vehicle assembly and servicing site. International Space Station (ISS) industry partners have been working for the past several years on concepts for using ISS development methods and assets to support a broad range of missions. These concepts have matured along with planning details for NASA’s SLS and Orion for a platform located in the Earth-Moon Libration (EML) system or Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO).
Lunar Surface: The mission objectives are to provide lunar surface access for crew and cargo and to provide as much reuse as possible. Subsequent missions to the surface can reuse the same lander and Lunar Transfer Vehicle.
Mars Vicinity: The International space community has declared that our unified horizon goal is for a human mission to Mars. Translunar infrastructure and heavy lift capability are key to this approach. The moons of Mars would provide an excellent stepping stone to the surface. As a “shake-down” cruise before landing, a mission to Deimos or Phobos would test all of the systems except those needed to get to the surface and back. This test would provide confidence for the in-space transportations and crew habitat systems.