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A Mars mission with VASIMR technology would be much like others envisioned in numerous previous studies but much shorter. A one-way, slow, high-payload capacity, automated cargo ship would leave first and place a habitat, fuel and supplies on Mars. Following successful completion of this robotic mission, a smaller, low-payload, fast ship will carry the crew to Mars.

The best opportunity for a human mission occurs once every eleven years, when Mars' orbit is closest to Earth's at the time the two planets are in proper position for the transfer. Other opportunities exist within this eleven-year cycle, but they are a bit more costly and time-consuming.

It is important to reduce the crew's exposure to weightlessness and solar radiation; therefore, it is important to shorten the trip time to and from Mars. Current chemical rocket science predicts that one-way travel to Mars will take approximately 10 months. The reduced travel time of the VASIMR, four months, would alleviate these major concerns.

Mission to Mars

IMAGE: 30 day spiral
The technique for leaving Earth orbit for a mission to Mars using a magnetoplasma rocket would be a 30-day spiral to escape Earth's gravity.

85 day heliocentric transfer

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 07/01/2003
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