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[ABANDONED] Ares Program - NASA's first crewed mission to Mars


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Welcome to my first series, Ares program which mainly focuses on Post-Apollo missions

Part I: Introduction and Development

After the success of Apollo moon program, by 1973 plans were underway for More Apollo-related missions, with the introduction of Saturn MLV Launch vehicles, which allowed for more payload to LEO

By 1976, work started on a new and improved Apollo CSM specifically designed for interplanetary missions - Using the leftover CSMs for Apollo 18- onwards, and some upgrades like an orbital module for the crew, and replacing the AJ10-137 with 2 TR-201 LM descent engines for SPS

In 1977, the main contractors for Saturn program decided to begin developing a nuclear stage for interplanetary operations; they looked at the existing hardware like S-IVB stages and they looked at a provider for nuclear engines, They found TIMBERWIND, specifically TIMBERWIND 75 variant because it has a better thrust and exhaust velocity than the existing NERVA because of the usage of a particle-bed reactor

By mid-78, NASA searched for a crew module that was suitable for interplanetary missions, they looked at the then-cancelled Venus flyby proposal, so the program was relived in a small form

By early-79 The main transfer stage was already built and in mid-79 the habitation module was already built- They were scheduled for shipping to Cape Canaveral in December of 1979

The mission plan was to send a transfer stage into LEO, while it waits there for the habitation module to launch later and finally the 5-crew Apollo CSM to rendezvous with it

Mars Transfer window starts at May of 1980 and ends in August

Edited by AdrianDogmeat
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Posted (edited)

Part II: A Giant Leap Ahead

Described as "the next giant leap in space exploration", The Ares Mars mission is the next step in the US space exploration program, with the Mars window of 1980 opening, NASA took the opportunity to send the first crew beyond the Earth's gravity well

Main Transfer Vehicle Launch

June 10th 1980, 15:10 EST, Saturn C-6 stands on LC-39A awaiting for launch

T-20 mins and counting the vehicle is now switching to internal power

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T-1 min and the S-IC arms have been retracted

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T-10, 9, Ignition sequence start, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, All Engines running

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Liftoff, we have a liftoff! 30 minutes past the hour, liftoff of Saturn C-6

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T+2 minutes 50 seconds and we have MECO and successful stage separation, MS-II reports nominally

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And we have a successful fairing separation

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MS-II telemetry looks good, M1 performing nominally

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T+5 minutes 15 seconds and we have SECO, Ares Transfer stage is now separating away from MS-II

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Now Ares Transfer stage will wait for the launch of the habitation module nicknamed Inteprid by the crew that will later on visit it

It's now in a 140 by 160km low orbit

Edited by AdrianDogmeat
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Crew Module "Inteprid" launch

With the transfer stage already in orbit, rollout was set for June 13th with a launch date set for the 16th, at 16:40 EST, for this specific launch they used the same launch platform that was used post-1973 for Saturn IB launches

T-16 minutes, Saturn IC is go for liftoff, the vehicle is now switching to internal power

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We have liftoff, Saturn IC throttles down in preparation for Max-Q

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T+ 2 minutes 35 second and we have MECO and S-IVB separation

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SLA separation is confirmed, Telemetry reports Saturn IC performing nominally as predicted

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Inteprid on its way to dock with Ares transfer vehicle, now performing a slight inclination change to line up

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230m away from the transfer stage, telemetry looks good and Inteprid is go for docking

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And the docking is successful! The transfer stage is now finished and it's waiting for the crew of 5 to arrive

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Post-flight analysis:

A somewhat uncontrolled spinning happened on S-IVB separation, but was corrected by APS, this might affect future missions and an investigation was ran, delaying the crew's launch from late June to mid July

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