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Energia proposes human Mars mission
Posted: Mon, Sep 23, 2002, 2:17 PM ET (1817 GMT)
Module-M Russian Mars experimental spacecraft (RSC Energia) Russian aerospace contractor RSC Energia has released plans for its proposed human mission to Mars, Aerospace Daily reported. Energia's mission architecture includes a single 63,000-kilogram orbital ship with separate landing craft as well as a solar-electric propulsion unit. The spacecraft would be launched from Earth on versions of the Energia heavy-lift launcher that currently do not exist. Leonid Gorshkov, lead designer of the architecture, said the spacecraft could be ready for a human orbital flight around Mars by the middle of the next decade without requiring cooperation from other nations. As the first step in this effort, Energia proposes launching components of three experimental Module-M spacecraft to the ISS on Progress spacecraft; the Module-M vehicles would be assembled on the station and later deployed to test electric propulsion technologies. Energia estimates the cost of a human Mars orbital mission to be about $14 billion, a sum well beyond the current financial capabilities of the Russian space program. A separate Russian organization, the Keldysh Research Center, made a similar proposal for a human Mars mission in July.
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