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Mars Molniya Orbit Atmospheric Resource Mining

Robert Mueller
NASA Kennedy Space Center


Mars Molniya Orbit Resource Mining
Image of Mars Molniya Orbit Resource Mining

Mars planetary surface access is one of NASA’s biggest technical challenges involving advanced entry, descent, and landing (EDL) technologies and methods. This NASA Innovative Advanced Concept (NIAC) project intends to solve one of the top challenges for landing large payloads and humans on Mars by using advanced atmospheric In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) methods that have never been tried or studied before.  The proposed Mars Molniya Orbit Atmospheric Resource Mining concept mission architecture will make Mars travel routine and affordable for cargo and crew, therefore enabling the expansion of human civilization to Mars.

While technology studies have been performed considering new approaches to land larger mass payloads on Mars, a concept that integrates this EDL objective with recent advances demonstrated in supersonic retro-propulsion and in-situ resource technology has not been considered. This novel system, and associated concept of operations, offers a solution for large mass EDL (>18 t) using retro-propulsion methods with ISRU propellants made on orbit.

2016 Phase I and Phase II Selections