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Kānāwai: Ares to Mars


Jay The Amazing Toaster
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Orion 23 and Altair 12, 2025

Crews going to Mars will need to be able to live and operate in confined spaces for long periods of time. The effects this will have on crew will need to be studied in depth before venturing out on such a long journey. While the Lunar Outpost is smaller than the habitats that are envisioned for a future Mars mission, the outpost provides a useful platform for conducting studies for how crew will live on another planet. The crew of Orion 23 will attempt to live in the Lunar Outpost for about 6 months, from there the space program will begin the process of crew rotation to have a continuous crewed presence on the Lunar surface. The crew will also need to deploy the previously launched MMSEV which will enable further exploration of Copernicus Crater.

The launch today will begin with the last Ares V using RS-68B's, the previous mission showcased the RS-68K's were safe and reliable engines to use for missions going forward.

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"Orion, you are go for docking."

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Like previous missions, crew will be picked up by the autonomously driven MMSEV. However, like with Orion 21, the crew will not head directly to the outpost, instead they will drive a few kilometers West in order to deploy MMSEV 2.

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The crew arrives at Altair 11 and MMSEV 2. Like on Orion 21, the mission specialist will climb aboard the Altair and operate the Luna-arm to deploy the vehicle.

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The two MMSEV's come face to face. MMSEV 2 is an upgraded version using lessons learned from MMSEV 1 and is an improved rover. The two rovers will drive back to the Lunar Outpost together.

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The crew arrive at the Lunar Outpost, they will then begin systems checkups on the MMSEV before departing out on long distance roving missions. MMSEV 1 will stay behind and act as a backup along with 2 crew members in case there is a failure on the new rover. Previous Lunar crews had not utilized MMSEV for scientific exploration missions in this capacity prior, in fear of the rover breaking down. However, now that they have access to a redundant one, they can exercise a little more freedom.

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After a few weeks, MMSEV is taken by two of the crew to drive South. It will first stop at the North-Western foothills portion of Copernicus Crater's central peaks. It his hoped that rock samples from this area can be analyzed and help determine the crater's age.

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After the long road trip, crew arrive at a large rock worthy of study.

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The mission's geologist will take a sample of this rock back to base for further study.

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Two months later, another mission with the MMSEV is undertaken. This time to explore the Western crater rim areas. A crater is found and is deemed worthy of analysis. Another capability of the rover is being showcased, the new robotic arm. This arm carries several sensitive instruments in order to analyze rock and crater samples, it also is able to be put on and taken off the rover easily. The rover doesn't drive with the arm attached to protect the sensitive instruments.

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A view from inside the rover gives the mission's geologist a good view of the instrument's activities.

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Orion 23 proves a successful mission. In a few months there will be the first crew rotation on the Lunar surface with Orion 25 and Altair 13. This will mark a continuous crewed presence on the Lunar surface, a huge step forward for crewed space missions.

Hope y'all enjoyed the post for today. I hope you're all glad to meet MMSEV 2, decked out in all new communications antennae and decals! I want to thank @AstroMods and @Antiperson for the new Constellation and Lunar Surface Systems decals seen on the left side of the rover. It definitely helps improve the look and differentiates it from MMSEV 1.

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Orion 25 and Altair 13, Late 2025

Longer terms stays on the Lunar surface are becoming the norm. This mission marks the first time that crew will launch toward the Moon while another is already on the surface. A new era in spaceflight begins with the first Lunar crew rotation.

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After the crew lands on the Lunar surface they meet the others in the Lunar Outpost. Like crew rotations on the ISS, hands are shaken and hugs are exchanged, however the Outpost becomes quite cramped with a crew of 8 onboard so the crew of Orion 23 is allowed to head home while Orion 25 takes it's place. Orion 23 has completed its objectives after the 6 month long stay and boards Altair 12.

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6 Months on this lonely grey rock can have a number of psychological effects that will be studied once Orion 23 returns to Earth. Examinations will be conducted to see if there are any differences between them and crews on the ISS. The Lunar Outpost is also far more cramped than the more spacious ISS is.  Can a crew really be equipped to handle a several year voyage to Mars? These are the questions that will need to be solved in the next few years before an orbital mission is conducted. However for the time being, the job of Orion 25 is not done, crew boards MMSEV 2 and drives towards the North-Western end of Copernicus Crater.

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Examinations of this crater are conducted to see how this formation occurs, the data gained from the robotic arm will be examined further back in the Outpost as well as back on Earth. In the meantime Orion 25 will continue in testing the limits of crew on another world.


A short post for today! Been getting very busy the past few weeks but I'm attempting to get back into the swing of things. Orion 25 will be followed by Orion 27 and question of what to do with the aging ISS are also on the minds of everyone on the ground. There are some surprises coming down the road as we get into 2026 and 2027 for those who stay tuned.

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