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Human Missions to Mars

Enabling Technologies for Exploring the Red Planet

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  • © 2023
  • Latest edition


  • Offers a highly readable yet realistic view of the possibilities for human missions to Mars
  • Collects together into a single, handy reference, a wide range of material on mars missions
  • This third edition provides extensive updating and additions

Part of the book series: Springer Praxis Books (PRAXIS)

Part of the book sub series: Astronautical Engineering (ASTROENG)

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About this book

In this book, Donald Rapp looks at human missions to Mars from a technological perspective. He divides the mission into a number of stages: Earth’s surface to low-Earth orbit (LEO); departing from LEO toward Mars; Mars orbit insertion and entry, descent and landing; ascent from Mars; trans-Earth injection from Mars orbit and Earth return.

A mission to send humans to explore the surface of Mars has been the ultimate goal of planetary exploration since the 1950s, when von Braun conjectured a flotilla of 10 interplanetary vessels carrying a crew of at least 70 humans. Since then, more than 1,000 studies were carried out.

This third edition provides extensive updating and additions to the last edition, including new sections, and many new figures and tables, and references.

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Table of contents (7 chapters)

Authors and Affiliations

  • South Pasadena, USA

    Donald Rapp

About the author

Donald Rapp was full professor of physics at the University of Texas 1969-1979, and Chief Technologist of the Mechanical and Chemical Engineering Division of JPL from 1979 to 2002.

He was manager of the Mars Exploration Technology Program at JPL for a period, and he was manager of the In Situ Propellant Production (ISPP) task in this Program. He wrote a landmark report on converting Mars resources into usable propellants for return to Earth. He wrote the Mars Technology Program Plan in 2001.

He was proposal manager at JPL for two missions that were implemented in space: Suess-Urey mission to collect solar wind, and Deep Impact to observe interior of a comet.

During the period 2001-2002, he played an important role in JPL efforts in developing concepts for utilization of extraterrestrial resources in Mars missions. In 2002 he wrote the NASA Office of Space Science Technology Blueprint for Harley Thronson, NASA Technology Director, a 100-page assessment of technology needs and capabilities for future missions.

In the period 2003-2006, he prepared a revised and expanded version of the Technology Blueprint for Harley Thronson at NASA HQ. In 2004, he was Proposal Manager for a proposal for a ground-penetrating radar experiment for the Mars Science Laboratory as well as a glider mission on Mars.

In the period 2004-2006, he concentrated on mission design for Mars and lunar human missions. This work led to his writing the book Human Missions to Mars that was published by Praxis/Springer in 2007. This was a major work, comprising 520 pages with over 200 figures. It included a chapter on in situ resource utilization (ISRU) on Mars.

He was the lead person at JPL for ISRU technology for several decades. In this role, he carried out research and analysis leading to a number or reports and publications through the 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s.

Since 2014, he has been Co-Investigator on the Mars OXygen In Situ Experiment(MOXIE) that operated on Mars in 2021-022 to routinely produce oxygen from Martian carbon dioxide.

The original book Human Missions to Mars was updated to a second edition in 2015, and is now presented as a third edition in 2022 with many new references and updates.

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