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Mars 1986
Mars 1986
NPO Energia nuclear-powered Mars expedition spacecraft designed in 1978-1986. The reactor system was split into two independent units to provide redundancy.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 2,923 bytes. 640 x 32 pixels.

Class: Manned. Type: Mars Expedition. Nation: Russia. Manufacturer: Korolev.

NPO Energia resumed study of a Mars project once development began of the new Energia booster in place of the cancelled N1. The 1978-1986 study used some of the ideas and technical results of the 1969 study, but modified according to technical developments of the period. The 15 MW nuclear power requirement was retained, but actual development of the 11B97 rocket stage beginning in 1971 had shown earlier specific impulse projections to be hopelessly unrealistic. This lead to the mass of the spacecraft more than doubling, with the propellant fraction increasing from 17% to 45% of the spacecraft total. Other differences included the use of two reactors in the place of one; reduction of the crew size from six to four; and the use of tested systems developed on the Salyut and Mir orbital stations in placed of the untried TMK hardware. This use of tested hardware guaranteed an increased level of crew safety compared to previous concepts. The original use of a completely separate second reactor and propulsion unit ensured the safe return of the crew even in the event of complete failure of one reactor or engine cluster.

Mars 1986Mars 1986 - NPO Energia nuclear-powered Mars expedition spacecraft designed in 1978-1986.

Credit: RKK Energia. 7,400 bytes. 765 x 74 pixels.

The Mars landing craft was also completely revised. Both conical and pear-shaped lifting bodies were studied, with a hypersonic lift to drag ratio of 0.3 to 0.5. The preferred configuration for the new EA (Expeditionary Apparatus) was a cylindrical 60 tonne spacecraft with a conical nose, 3.8 m in diameter and 13 m long. The primary braking engine was housed in the tail, and brought the spacecraft horizontally to zero velocity above the Martian surface. A landing engine at the belly of the cylinder would then fire to bring the spacecraft to a 2 m/s touchdown on four landing legs. The crew would descend to the surface in a cylindrical airlock tunnel that deployed from the belly of the cylinder to the surface. When the time came to depart, doors would open at the spine of the cylinder to reveal the vertically-launched ascent stage and crew module. From fore to aft the vehicle consisted of the conical nose, the Martian living compartment, the landing propulsion section, the return module, and the tail compartment with the braking engine.

EA Ascent StageEA Ascent Stage - The Ascent Stage of the EA Mars Lander fires to launch the crew back to Mars orbit and rendezvous with the waiting Mars 1986 or 1989 expedition craft.

Credit: RKK Energia. 22,276 bytes. 310 x 238 pixels.


Craft.Crew Size: 4. Design Life: 716 days. Total Length: 210.0 m. Maximum Diameter: 4.1 m. Total Mass: 365,000 kg. Primary Engine Thrust: 45 kgf. Main Engine Propellants: Xenon. Main Engine Isp: 4,000 sec. Electric system: 15,000.00 total average kW. Electrical System: Nuclear reactor.

Mars 1986 Chronology

08 June 1971 Decree authorising design of 11B97 nuclear electric rocket stage

EA LanderEA Lander - EA Lander on Mars. Note the cyldindrical air lock that has deployed from the belly, the landing legs, the aerodynamic surfaces on the tail, and the small Marsokhod rover on the surface.

Credit: RKK Energia. 25,982 bytes. 307 x 237 pixels.

Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On work on nuclear rocket engines' was issued. Prior work, mainly on propulsion for manned Mars expeditions, was now concentrated on development of the NEP rocket stage 11B97. This stage would have an electric capacity of 500-600 kW and would use specialised plasma-ion electric engines using standing plasma waves and anodes.
15 June 1976 Decree authorising development of 11B97 nuclear electric rocket stage Launch Vehicle: Energia.

Aelita MartianAelita Martian - Wishful thinking - a Martian peeks from a crater after the EA Lander departs for orbit. Frame from an RKK Energia film.

Credit: RKK Energia. 23,027 bytes. 311 x 239 pixels.

Decree 'On course of work on nuclear rocket engines' was issued. The 11B97 stage would have an electric capacity of 500-600 kW and would use specialised plasma-ion electric engines using standing plasma waves and anodes. It was powered from a reactor with a 200 litre core containing 30 kg of uranium fuel. In 1978 this engine was studied for use as a reusable interorbital space tug for launch by Energia-Buran.
05 February 1981 Decree for Gerkules nuclear-electric interorbital tug Launch Vehicle: Energia.

Gerkules Nuclear TugGerkules Nuclear Tug - Gerkules Nuclear Electric Interorbital Tug with 11B97 engine.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 2,089 bytes. 343 x 298 pixels.

NPO Energia developed for the Ministry of Defence the interorbital tug Gerkules with 550 kW maximum output and continuous operation in the 50-150 kW range for 3 to 5 years. In 1986 an interorbital tug was studied to solve the specific application of transporting heavy satellites of 100 tonnes to geostationary orbit, launched by Energia.
01 January 1986 Mars 1986

Having completed design and development work on Energia-launched nuclear-electric upper stages, NPO Energia studied a manned Mars project again. The study revamped the 1969 studies to include launch by Energia and use of two reactors in the place of one and the use of tested systems developed on orbital stations.


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Last update 3 May 2001.
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