1
$\begingroup$

Could architectures seeking human missions to Mars not put caches of water in orbit around Earth prior to launching of a manned mission?

This would allow a later-launched manned mission to dock with and collect from the water caches placed in orbit, thus needing less thrust to get underway towards the destination.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, the idea of making separate launches, and then "assembling" the overall spacecraft - is a great idea. Many plans involve exactly this. (Note that it applies to everything, not just water. indeed water is only a minor concern.) You've hit the nail on the head, congtrats! :) $\endgroup$ – Fattie Jan 4 '18 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ ISS and Apollo both used "assemble in space" steps. Apollo was re-assembly of things that lifted from Earth together, and ISS doesn't "get underway", but it is a proved and not just theoretical plan for big projects. $\endgroup$ – user17699 Jan 4 '18 at 20:40
1
$\begingroup$

This question is a bit vague since it seems to simply be proposing a solution, but I will do my best to give an explanation.

For the plan to travel to Mars, much of the plan revolves around what is called the space railroad, I think. Now while it is not a literal railroad, the plan calls for an orbiting lunar station, at which, assembly of a much larger rocket would be possible. This concept of assembling in space is a well know, but not commonly executed way of creating spacecraft. Until recently, the need for such large spacecraft has only really been limited to the ISS.

To bring in a semi-realisitic situation, in the video game, Kerbal Space Program, from what I understand, this is common practice for missions to other planets. But, since we have not sent a mission to another terrestrial body other than our moon that required the ability to get back, the need for a heavy spacecraft could be overcome by simply launching a bigger ship from the ground.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Your idea is possible, and it's being looked at for various supplies, not just water. The SpaceX BFR, for example, is designed to launch into Earth orbit, where the spaceship is refueled from tankers before it sets off to Mars.

But when you assemble a spacecraft in Earth orbit, you still have to accelerate the entire stack into a transfer orbit to Mars. So while it becomes easier to launch the stack in pieces, you still need to spend a lot of energy.

So NASA is looking into closed-loop environmental systems that can recycle most of the water. A prototype is installed on the ISS. This reduces the amount of water you need to bring along by a huge amount, making it a cheaper solution than multiple launches to supply water to the spacecraft.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.