Here is an overview of the Blue Dragon mission architecture.
This section refers to “Sagan”, the first base on Mars created through the Tiw Program. Note that Mars One may already have a base established by 2023 or thereabouts. It also refers to “Abeona”, the name of the MTV (Mars Transfer Vehicle).
The first crew to go to Sagan is called “Alpha Crew”. The second crew will be named “Bravo Crew”, and so on, following the international aviation alphabet. This pattern has been adopted in order to support clear radio communications between Mars exploration crews and Earth.
The location of Sagan is still TBD (To Be Determined).
This timeline does not, for now, entertain a potential overlap of Bravo mission with Alpha. In that scenario, if all goes well for Alpha Crew then Bravo Crew would be sent out in 2035, when Alpha Crew are on their way back. For now it’s assumed that we want to bring Alpha Crew safely back to Earth, fully completing the mission, before preparing to send another crew.
Phase 1 – Pre-Mission
- Select and train Alpha Crew.
- Develop and construct the MSH (Mars Surface Habitat), also known simply as “the hab”.
- Develop and construct the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle).
- Make any further modifications (if required) to Dragon and DragonRider capsules necessary for Mars landing.
Phase 2 − 2031 Launch Opportunity
- Launch the MAV, land it safely at Sagan.
- Remotely activate MAV.
- Self-contained thorium reactor is telerobotically driven some distance from the MAV, unrolling power cable behind it.
- ISPP (In Situ Propellant Production) unit in the MAV reacts H2 (hydrogen) with CO2 (carbon dioxide) extracted from Martian atmosophere to make LOX/LCH4 (liquid oxygen/liquid methane) bipropellant.
- Launch the hab, land it safely at Sagan.
- Remotely activate hab.
- Self-contained thorium reactor is telerobotically driven some distance from the hab, unrolling power cable behind it.
- Three exterior doors containing inflatable modules are opened.
- ISRU (In Situ Resource Utilisation) unit is activated and harvesting of O2, N2 and H2O (oxygen, nitrogen and water) from the atmo commences.
- Inflatable modules inflate with indigenous O2/N2, while the water tanks fill with indigenous H2O.
- Once the hab is inflated, commence filling the O2 and N2 tanks.
- Launch 2-3 (TBD) Dragons containing cargo to Mars, land them safely at Sagan.
- Build sections of Abeona, launch them to LEO (Low Earth Orbit), and complete construction on orbit.
Phase 3 − 2033 Launch Opportunity
- (TBD: Launch backup MAV, hab, cargo Dragons.)
- Launch crew in a DragonRider via Falcon 9, and dock with Abeona. The DragonRider remains docked to the Abeona en route to Mars.
- Abeona performs TMI (Trans Mars Injection) and flies to Mars on a minimum-energy transfer orbit for ~6 months.
- Abeona performs MOI (Mars Orbit Injection) and parks in Mars orbit.
- Crew descends from Abeona to the surface of Mars in the DragonRider, wearing spacesuits.
- On landing, the crew exit the DragonRider and transfer to the hab.
- The crew spends approximately 18 months on the surface of Mars, living in the hab.
Phase 4 − 2035 Return
- About one month prior to departure, commence systems checks of MAV and Abeona.
- Put hab in standby mode.
- Crew transfers to MAV on foot, in spacesuits.
- MAV launches from the Mars surface to Mars orbit, and docks with Abeona.
- Crew transfer from the MAV to Abeona.
- MAV undocks from Abeona and autonomously flies back to Sagan, following the same program that took it there the first time.
- Abeona flies back to Earth, again on a minimum-energy Hohmann transfer orbit for ~6 months.
- Abeona parks in Earth orbit.
- A DragonRider is launched from Earth and docks with Abeona.
- Crew transfers to the DragonRider.
- DragonRider carries crew to Earth surface.
Phase 5 − Post-Mission
- Alpha Crew go into rehabilitation to rebuild muscle and bone, followed by world tour.
- One or more missions to refurbish/upgrade Abeona in preparation for the next mission.
- Select and begin training Bravo Crew.
- Develop next generation hardware.
- Send more stuff to Sagan or a new location nearby.