Illinois Team Presents Manned Mars Mission Project at SpaceOps

2014-06-23

NERIO-I mission architecture concept of operations from beginning to end.
NERIO-I mission architecture concept of operations from beginning to end.
An Illinois team including many Aerospace Engineering students got double duty out of a manned mission to Mars project when team members presented the plan at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SpaceOps conference in May.

Recent AE graduate Braven Leung and undergraduate Christopher Lorenz represented the team at the SpaceOps 2014 13th International Conference on Space Operations held in Pasadena, California. Hosted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the conference was intended to bring together the space operations community to address state-of-the-art operations principles, methods, and tools.

The biennial conference attracts technologists, scientists, and managers from space agencies, industry, and academia. The conference fosters managerial and technical interchange on all aspects of space mission operations, including robotic and human spaceflight, earth orbit and deep space missions, lunar and planetary missions, and orbital and surface operations.

Leung and Lorenz contributed an oral and poster presentation of the NERIO-I (Nuclear Explorations for Realizing Interplanetary Objectives I) project that won the Illinois Space Society (ISS) team 3rd place in 2013 at the RASC-AL (Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage) competition held last summer.

Christopher Lorenze and Braven Leung at the SpaceOps conference.
Christopher Lorenze and Braven Leung at the SpaceOps conference.
In that competition, students were challenged with human factor considerations in crafting a mission for four crew members to stay a minimum of 30 days on Mar’s surface. The ISS team concentrated on designs for better space suits, radiation shielding, and a biomass chamber in the award-winning concept.

The revamped project that Leung and Lorenz presented in May included greater financial details than the original plan, as well as a more thorough aspect of adapting and using existing technology.

Leung served as Team Leader as well as Systems Engineer and Assist Structural Engineer in the work for SpaceOps. His responsibilities were running logistics, overseeing all subsystem design, and assisting in mission structural design. Lorenz was a Structural Engineer for the project, and was responsible for configuring the transfer vehicle, Martian base and mass budget.

Other team members were:

  • Jason Allen, AE, Orbital Mechanics - responsible for determining requirements such as fuel
  • Stanley Chan, AE, Human Factors/CAD Modeler - responsible for technologies and regimens to best support the mission’s human crew, and for creating CAD models for the mission.
  • Jobin Kokkat, AE, Launch Systems/Assist Human Factors - responsible for conducting trade studies on different options for access to space, and assisting in designing technologies and regimens to best support the mission’s human crew.
  • Timothy Lanham, AE, Communications - responsible for laying out the communication network between ground control and the crew, and configuring uplinks and downlinks.
  • Julia Liu, AE, Thermal Systems - responsible for ensuring all critical components operate between tolerable temperature ranges for the duration of the mission, and ensuring habitable temperatures for the crew.
  • Anthony Park, Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering (NPRE) Power Systems - responsible for laying out the specifications of the reactor design, solar array, etc.; and creating the mission power budget and power diagram/schematics.
  • Dayne Rogers, AE, Orbital Mechanics/CAD Modeler - responsible for determining the requirements such as fuel and delta v’s for reaching Mars, as well as orbital trajectories, and for creating CAD models for the mission.