Can you land a ferris wheel-like ship on Mars ….sideways?
Envision a typical sci-fi ferris wheel kind of spacecraft, with three habitat elements separated from the central hub by girder type booms (attached low on the hub). There would also be triangulating girder stays to the top of the hub, The central hub houses a docking collar, low G work spaces, fuel tanks and rocket engines. All this is pretty standard sci-fi stuff but now I am proposing that you LAND this thing on Mars as total structure.
= The greatly increased moment of inertia due to the large diameter would make for a very stable landing platform (not spinning of course).
= Increased opportunity for aerodynamic surfaces for reentry and landing (along each boom as well as the possibility of sail like membranes between booms).
- We would have to have landing legs on the habitats as well as the center (engine) unit. (To attempt to put some numbers on this - the landing configuration might be maybe about 180 ft diameter, assuming 50 ft booms, a 30 foot habitat length and a 10 ft radius connection ring at the hub. Of course these numbers are complete speculation and it could be much different. The main point is that it is going to be pretty darn BIG!)
- The main booms can be telescoping types so that, during the long journey, the habitats can be extended outward for increased pseudo gravity. Assuming 50 foot booms extending three times to make approximately a plus 300’ diameter spacecraft.
- Habitat to habitat movement could be by small “cars” tethered to the central hub, moving along the perimeter. Airlocks on the cars and habitats make easier transfer possible. Movement to the hub would use the same cars but thrusters would be required to compensate for the speed-up/slow-down while moving radially.
- The configuration would be robust enough to allow low power course corrections even during spin.