A proposed architecture for a mission to the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, with a possible launch date of 2021.


This concept, from the Saskasawa International Center for Space Architecture at the University of Houston, requires the development of a nuclear thermal rocket, which would be difficult (perhaps impossible) under the current political climate.

Even if the political problem could be solved, it’s unlikely that anyone would commit to using such a rocket for a manned mission without at least one long-term in-space test. These factors (and the lack of NASA funding for true deep-space hardware) make the proposed 2021 launch date highly unlikely. The basic concept, however, does appear to be technically sound.

If this is viewed as a one-shot mission, it could be accomplished with conventional chemical rockets and a few more launches, which would still cost less than nuclear-thermal rocket development.

Written by Astro1 on March 3rd, 2014 , Space Exploration (General)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

    Jesus commented

    Why to make the mission manned if the crew are not going to land and walk on Phobos? For samples recollection you can send a rover.
    If it is because the propellant needed for taking off from Phobos it will not be so much, considering its size.

    March 3, 2014 at 11:58 am
      Astro1 commented

      Why do we have scientists in Antarctica, instead of just sending robots?

      We’re a long ways from Star Trek’s Commander Data. Currently, the best robots are teleoperated from Earth, but speed-of-light delays mean they have to move very slowly. The amount of terrain covered by rovers like Curiosity is minuscule. Having humans on the Martian surface (or even teleoperating from Martian orbit) would greatly multiply the amount of science that can performed.

      That assumes the goal is science. If the goal is settlement, the establishment of a new branch of human civilization, that cannot be automated, by definition.

      March 3, 2014 at 12:24 pm
    jim brown commented

    It would make sense to first send a probe to Phobos and Demos to see what resources there might be to help the mission. If there is much water or carbon dioxide then that could produce the return fuel. At least the regolith could supply shielding. They should be able to land. If you fall from orbit to the surface it will be very slow. A good runner can run fast enough to jump to orbit from Phobos, the larger of the two. One way to land on Phobos would be to put the ship at the Mars Phobos L1 point and climb down. it is a few miles, but even near the surface something that would weigh a tons on Earth only weighs about a pound on Phobos. A ship in orbit a few hundred feet above the surface of Phobos with a rope hanging down would skim above the surface at a few miles per hour. I walk about that fast. Getting to the surface and back into orbit from Phobos is not a problem. Deimos is about half as hard.

    Most suggest a Deimos mission but I suggest Phobos. A cable hanging done from Phobos to just above the atmosphere of Mars if made out of spectra(fishing line) or Kevlar it only need to be as heavy as its payload and 3700 miles long. tweny tons of cabling twiced the strength to weight as those cables. I would just about skims the upper atmosphere at 1200 miles an hour. This is less than seven percent the delta V we need to get to orbit.

    To land on Mars from the bottom of that cable does not need a heat shield. You do need a parachute. If there is a level landing field you could land just using a large parasail that could be used many times. Or a very robust rocket able to make thousand of trips with no service could make the trip to the cable, exchange payloads, an safely land. This rocket would have the equipment to fuel to payload more like a commercial plane than what we think of as rocketry. I see other great advantage with Phobos for a settlement on Mars.

    It is dumb not to land on the moons, unless we do not have enough fuel to stop as in Inspiration Mars.

    March 9, 2014 at 12:16 am