The Trip to Mars

  • Harry L. Shipman


Prediction is always a gamble, but I feel quite confident that before the end of the 21st century, human beings will have set foot on the surface of the planet Mars. In fact, I rather suspect that the Mars trip will be complete well within the first half of the next century. Enough studies have been done so that we have a reasonably good idea of how the trip will be done and how long it will take. There are a number of new technologies which need to be developed if the trip is to come off; some are absolute requirements, and others can be worked around by considerably increasing the weight of the spacecraft. There are a number of open questions as to how the trip is to be undertaken. Will it be a Soviet expedition, an American expedition, or a cooperative expedition? How will this trip fit into the larger context of a space program?


Space Shuttle Solar Sail Space Program Martian Surface Rocket Fuel 
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Reference Notes

  1. 1.
    For a general discussion of Mars missions, see John Butler, “Mission and Space Vehicle Concepts,” in M.B. Duke et al., Manned Mars Missions: Working Group Papers (Washington, D.C.: NASA, 1986), NTIS Documents N87-17722 through N87-17759.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kerry Mark Joels, The Mars One Crew Manual (New York: Ballantine Books, 1985). see also Gus R. Babb and William R. Stump, “Comparison of Mission Design Options for Manned Mars Missions,” in Duke et al., Manned Mars Missions: Working Group Papers, pp. 162-188.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    National Commission on Space, Pioneering the Space Frontier (New York: Bantam Books, 1986), p. 136.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Space Science Board, National Academy of Sciences, Space Science in the 21st Century: Imperatives for the Decades 1995–2015, (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988); see also Craig Covault, “Science Board Proposes New Space Program Direction,” Aviation Week (August 1, 1988), pp. 36-40.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    I’m writing this in the summer of 1988, at one of those times which recur at two-year intervals when Mars rises around sunset, is high in the south at midnight, and sets in the west around sunrise.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Spark Matsunaga, The Mars Project (New York: Hill and Wang, 1986).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    I’m using a world population of about 5.3 billion people and a combined population for the United States, the USSR, Japan, and Western Europe of 1 billion.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    National Commission on Space, Pioneering the Space Frontier, pp. 175-180.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For example, Leon Jaroff (with Glenn Garelik, J. Madeliene Nash, and Richard Woodbury), “Onward to Mars,” Time (July 18, 1988), pp. 46-53; William J. Cook (with Jeff Trimble and William Allman), “Red Star Rising,” U.S. News and World Report (May 16, 1988), pp. 48-54.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    We were talking at Gary Wegner’s home in Hanover, New Hampshire; Bisnovatyi-Kogan and I were both attending an International Astronomical Union Colloquium on White Dwarf Stars in August 1988.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Harry L. Shipman 1989

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  • Harry L. Shipman

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