1958, June, KNN, “The Space Hour”
Interviewer: Presentations done, Gene, you have the mike.
Gene: First off, let’s talk about the goals. We, at ISP, are quite interested in Mars, this wonderful new world, which past missions have shown us. A bit like another Australia, but without spiders.
In order to be able to explore it more fully, have set down a few objectives for this launch window. First, we are going to establish a communications network around the planet. This is so that the probes and landers can all talk to one another.. especially in case of problems, so that we can better figure out what went wrong.
We were wondering about how to do that, especially since there are also two small moons, which we are also planning to launch missions to.
At first with thought about creating three different 3-sat com nets. Then we wondered if we could just use, one of the moons as a comsat, thus saving one probe. A reasonable idea, but orbital drift, over time, would mean that eventually all probes would end up crashing into that moon… Not really a good choice.
Finally, we settled on an even easier choice. Create just two rings of comsats, one inside of the moons, and the other on the outside. That way, we won’t lose any comsats, and there will be full radio coverage of Mars and both its moons.
We had immense problems designed single launches with 4+ comsats, so we eventually ended up designing 3 comsat rockets. Two were build and launched. The first is tasked with establishing the high orbit, while the second will create the low orbit. Furthermore all the delivery stages used to adjust other missions, they have been modified to work as comsats, and will be placed in one of these orbits, as fuel permits. All in all, this should establish a perfect com coverage throughout Mars SOI.
Interviewer: Interesting, and a nice thing to have for future missions. What about science?
Gene: Oh, there will be plenty of science missions as well. Our previous Mars probe is still there, and observing the planet. We do not have that many new experiments to do science then. We do have a new orbital scanner though. Unlike the previous probe, this one requires a high orbit. So we have sent a probe there for this purpose only.
In addition, we have designed some science missions, which have both low and high orbit probes. We have launched such missions intended for each of the moons.
Interviewer: Fascinating. Any landers?
Gene: Yes, we managed to design and build two types of landers. Just like the lander we launched two years ago, at the last launch window, these are concepts, which we would like to try out. The first is a simple lightweight probe, with an excess of parachutes. The other is a larger, more capable probe, with an oversized heatshield. We want to see what works best. Further, we have two of the latter, allowing us to try one first, and then, if required, adjust our automated landing code.
Interviewer: Anything else different from them, compared to the Mars Experimental Lander?
Gene: Ah yes, indeed. We tried something new this time around. One very late night, while he should have gone to bed, Bob got an idea. That eventually resulted in a completely new use of parachutes. This new use of the basic concept is called drogue chutes. These are high altitude, high speed parachutes deployed to slow down the lander enough to be able to deploy regular chutes earlier. Furthermore, we have made them of the strongest material we could find, which is Kevlar. It’s an experimental material, not ready for the commercial market, but we were allowed sufficient material to make some parachutes*.
Interviewer: Great. Well good luck with that, and with the coming launches.
Interviewer: To all the listeners. Tune in next week, when we invite the ISP back to talk in more details about their probes.
*We have had these all along! Argh… Select a radial chute and go to action groups, there it can be modified to become a drogue chute.