Holly Snyder Editor

In the depths of the Atmospheric Science section of the Archive, we found a 4-page, hand spiral bound, typed document from the 1960s titled ‘Early-Manned Mars Missions”. This was a rare find in that its content was complete, but it is also an astonishing realization about the knowledge we actually had in the vintage space exploration era.

Dr. Enzmann discusses possible mission profiles and the various equipment needed for a crewed mission to Mars, including expected environmental hazards and objectives of the landing parties. He states in his introduction that a crewed mission to the surface of Mars, for the purpose of establishing a synotic base, would not require much extension of current technologies and could be accomplished by the mid-1970s.

He starts by explaining the mission should include two to five people, including a doctor, two astronaut scientists with medical and pilot cross-training, and two pilot astronauts with scientific and medical cross-training. Some of the equipment he discusses includes three Saturn C-5 configurations, three modified Apollo Command vehicles, life-support equipment, Apollo extension (for more comfortable living quarters during interplanetary transfer), interface equipment, a tape recorder with periodic messages prepared, and more.

He reflects that one of the simplest mission profiles would be one from Earth orbit to Mars, with the use of the atmosphere of Mars as a break, but there are, however, other mission profiles possible; like the one that offers the most advantage in fuel savings including a Venus fly-by. Among many details, this would include 1 vehicle crewed and 2 supply vehicles; the crewed vehicle can execute a fly-by and return to Earth without landing in an emergency. He suggests strategies like associating logistic drones with the crewed vehicles and using tandem vehicles for more practical approaches to the surface of Mars.

There are many hazards to consider in mission profiles, environmental hazards being of the most immediate concern; transfer paths being of primary concern, and the Mars environment being of secondary concern, but he discusses electromagnetic hazards, corpuscular hazards, material, and biological hazards to be weighed. For example, he states: “Electrosphere of Mars: The presence of Van Allen belts or similar corpuscular streams could present a hazard to the manned effort. This could be monitored by probes over the next few years; and/or with precursors to the manned vehicle.”

Most importantly, he discusses the priorities of a landing party, in order of importance, beginning with the immediate survival of the party, their communication with and assistance from (or lack thereof) Earth, long-term survival, the scientific work to be done, and finally the preparation of later expeditions.

This is an incredibly detailed document reflecting just how prepared the space exploration industry was 60+ years ago. Why did we stop? If we had continued these plans back then, who could say how far we would have traveled into the universe today?

FREA is proud to present the complete article to our members in our Planetology section of the Archive! Non-members can join for just $9.99! Become a member today here!

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