Zachary to the journey by forcing the astronauts to

Zachary Norcross

Professor Guy Cortesi

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ICEN 140 Introduction to
Engineering Design­­­­­­

30th January
2018

An
Evaluation of a Trip to Mars

Space
travel is a long-held dream by many on Earth. Being able to travel to other
planets requires an enormous amount of work and resources to complete, but to
send humans to another planet requires even more. Many factors also affect our
ability to make this mission a success, such as launch vehicle, food reserves,
launch time, fuel reserves, return flight, and more. These parameters make the project
of conducting such a mission a difficult one.

Firstly,
is the transportation time. This time will ultimately affect every other
parameter because all resources have a limited lifespan before rotting or
expiring. According to Makuch, and Davies, “a trip to Mars at the most
favorable launch option takes about six months with current chemical rocket
technology” (Makuch et al.). This journey is only one way as well, so it would
take roughly a year to complete the entire journey. This time estimate does not
include the time you may need to stay on Mars to wait for the orbits to match
up. Mars and Earth both have orbits and in six months they can be in radically
different positions than they were therefore we must use mathematical formulas
to find when the planets will be in the correct positions so that we may launch
and arrive in the correct position at the correct time.  This will of course add time to the journey by
forcing the astronauts to stay on Mars until such time that they may launch. Now
that the timeframe is analyzed we must look at the design of the ship.

There
is also the question of design parameters of the spacecraft. Due to the
duration of the flight and the distance it would be traveling it poses an
interesting question: how do we design a space craft that can store all the
necessary amenities needed for the mission such as food and fuel, but also has
a proper amount of weight so that it may take off and land on both Earth and Mars?
Both these planets have different atmospheres and forces of gravity. According
to NASA Mars’s gravity is “0.375 that of Earth” (NASA), which is significantly
less. The change in gravity effects
everything from the astronaut’s health, to the needed lift to launch for the
return mission. As well as the amount of breaking done by entering the
atmosphere that would help slow the craft down. Preferably we would design a
ship that can effectively manage the weight so that it will be able to takeoff,
and land on both planets as well as hold the fuel needed. The ship would also
need to be able to withstand radiation levels from space. This is an essential
design parameter to keep the astronauts healthy a similar design to the Mars
rovers may be suitable. With the parameters discussed we must evaluate the
resources required.

Over
a year in space is difficult enough; it becomes even harder when considering
the amount of resources needed. Most importantly is food. To keep the food from
rotting it must be frozen. The only types of food that should be brought are ones
that would be able to last more than a year (because it will take more than a
year for a full trip). The food will also have to cover the range of essential
food groups to keep the astronauts healthy. According to the United States
Department of Agriculture the five food groups are “fruits, vegetables, grains,
proteins, and dairy” along with the recommended amount of each per day (Chang).
An alternative to this is one the US military employs. Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s),
according to the US Army, “…provide an average of 1,250 calories …. and
one-third of the military recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals”
(Military, US). These MRE’s
would take up less space and according to the US Army “… have a minimum shelf
life of three and a half years at 80 degrees F” (Military, US). This allows for the food to last more
than long enough for the entire trip. This may also help with storage as MRE’s
come in small packages that can be easily stored in a container (see figure 1).
Food is essential to keeping these astronauts healthy but the change in gravity
and environment will require extensive exercise to minimize biological effects
of space travel.

Food
goes hand in hand with exercise, to keep the astronauts well fed and physically
healthy, but exercise becomes
especially important when traveling in space or on another planet. In a study
done by Fitts et al. they found that “… prolonged weightlessness produced
substantial loss of fibre mass, force, and power …” (Fitts et al). This study
only studied a flight that was “~180 days” (Fitts et al). The trip to Mars is
considerably longer. This training program also consisted of three categories: cycling,
treadmill, and resistance training (Fitts et al.). These appear to be a good
step towards the required exercise but Fitts et al. states later that “the
exercise counter measures employed were incapable of providing the high
intensity needed to protect fibre and muscle mass” (Fitts et al). This means a
more intense workout regimen must be employed that involves more resistance
training to put more strain on the muscles. Not only must it be more intense,
but it must also target almost every major muscle group so that the astronauts
stay physically fit. This does not account for loss of bone density. Continued
weightlessness influences bone usage since humans do not have the same force of
gravity acting on them in space or on Mars as previously discussed making them
weigh less. A journal entry from White and Averner found that after a
collection of space flights ranging from 4.5 months to 14.5 months that “the
extent of bone loss for individual astronauts or cosmonauts is considerable,
varying from 0% to up to 20%” (White et al.). A solution to this would be to
enforce a strict training regimen that features more resistance based exercises
using machines that isolate each muscle group to help minimize the effects of
altered gravity. Now that health has been discussed we may look at waste
management and fuel for the return trip.

            The ship will produce a large amount of waste from the
astronauts and the used fuel. Carbon dioxide waste is simple enough to handle.
An air filtration system like the Apollo missions had will need to be employed
however the question rises about physical waste. This waste must be disposed of
in some way to prevent it from accumulating. A solution would be to store the
waste in containers and then leave those containers on MarsNZH1  after arriving. While this is a
possibility it is not ideal as it pollutes the planet being travelled too. A
different solution would be to empty the waste into the vacuum of space. This
is also not ideal as we would have to pollute space to do this, ­­­­­­­­­­­­
making future launches unsafe. An ideal scenario would be a hybrid of storage
and recycling. If we could store whatever cannot be recycled and recycle the
rest it would assist in cutting down on the amount of waste and would give a
reusable cause to the other part of waste. This is an idea also put forward by
Hoffman “Self-sufficiency undoubtedly requires highly advanced life support
systems in which most of the waste product from human activity is recovered and
reused”. (Hoffman, Kaplan, 2-15) This shows the need for advanced systems to
help manage all systems of living including waste management. As far as
specific methods and technologies Drysdale et al. Suggest that “physicochemical
regeneration is most cost effective. However, bioregeneration is likely to be
of use for producing salad crops” (Drysdale et al.). These two techniques could
be used to help recycle waste and supply food and water. The two options
proposed are either storing the waste or recycling it. The other needed
recourse is energy. What will power the craft to and from Mars.

            Space travel requires a good amount
of fuel to be successful. A trip to Mars and back would require even more than
the usual trips that we perform when sending out rovers. One of the biggest
changing factors is the return trip. We would have to send the ship with enough
fuel for both the trip to Mars and the return trip. This can be difficult due
to storage and weight concerns as that much fuel will weigh the ship down and
may not have enough room to be stored. As discussed previously the techniques
used in life support by Drysdale et al. may be of use as they may be able to
help create fuel. Another solution may be to send a rover like canister to Mars
that would contain more fuel for the return trip.

            In conclusion space travel to Mars is clearly a very
daunting task. The sheer distance from Earth poses many challenges that the
Moon did not have. Food would have to be either prepackaged or made using
highly advanced technology. The astronauts would have to stay on Mars for a
time until they could launch when Earth was at the proper location in orbit so
that they arrive back on Earth. The ship itself would have to handle a large
amount of weight and withstand prolonged radiation from space. The astronauts
would also need to have a very strict diet and workout to minimize health
effects of low gravity. Waste would have to be either recycled or stored until
it could be disposed of. Or a hybrid of recycling and storing waste that can’t
be recycled. The return trip would need fuel that would be either sent on a
rover like capsule or created through highly advanced technologies. As shown
the likelihood of a trip to Mars and back is a difficult engineering question.
Many areas require large sums of money to develop the parts or technologies
needed. As noted by Koelle when referring to ships for travel “They are too small
and too expensive for this job” (Koelle, 1) but as we as a species continue to develop more technology
engineers will keep innovating so that we will be able to visit Mars and
return.

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