Mars Piloted Orbital Station

ISS-Based MARPOST Prototype

Mars Piloted Orbital Station (or MARPOST) is a Russian manned orbital mission to Mars, with several proposed configurations, including using a nuclear reactor to run an electric rocket engine. A 30-volume draft proposal was produced in 2005.[1] Design for the ship proposed to be ready in 2012, and the ship itself in 2021.[2]


Mission Scenario

MOK Advanced Design (to be launched by Proton or Angara boosters

Marpost would be launched to Mars together with a fleet of robotic spacecraft designed to study Mars both from its orbit and on its surface. Some of these spacecraft would be carried onboard the station. The station would reach the Mars orbit from where its crew will research Mars by operating the aforementioned robots (this is why the mission called ‘hybrid’). No humans will land on Mars during this mission. Since robots will be controlled by Marpost crewmembers from Martian orbit it will eliminate one of the problems standing in the way of effective control of such machines by people on Earth, which is a delay of radio signal because of the long distance between Mars and Earth. The samples of Martian soil will later be delivered by these robots to Marpost and subsequently brought back to Earth. The whole duration of the mission would be approximately 2.5 years with one month of Marpost work in Mars orbit. Its main goal would be to prove that people can survive a lengthy trip through ‘deep space’ and effectively perform their professional responsibilities, including operating the spacecraft and conducting research activities during such mission.

The idea of this ‘hybrid’ mission was first advanced by US-trained Russian space policy expert Dr. Yuri Karash (he got his Ph.D. in Space Policy and International Relations from the American University in Washington, D.C. in 1997) in his article published in the Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta on October 18, 2000 under the title Vperyod, Na Mars! Rossii sleduyet vzyat kurs na sozdaniye marsianskoi pilotiruemoy orbitalnoy stantsii [Onward, to Mars! Russia needs to set a course toward the development of Martian Piloted Orbital Station]. Dr. Karash claimed that Russia while continuing its participation in the International Space Station program should build the rest of Russian modules for the station but instead of attaching them to the ISS, assemble them in orbit as an autonomous complex and launch it to Mars with a crew onboard. Dr. Karash also gave this space complex its unofficial name MARPOST. He also believes that Marpost could pave the way for a joint Russian-American mission to the Martian surface. Russia, capitalizing on its extensive experience in building and operating long-term orbital space stations would build a trans-planetary spacecraft while America capitalizing on its experience gained during Apollo Moon landing program would build a Mars landing module.

The idea of Marpost was picked up by Raketno-Kosmicheskaya Korporatsiya (Rocket-Space Corporation) Energia, the Russian leading space developer and builder of human spaceflight hardware, particularly by one of its main designers Dr. Leonid Gorshkov.[3]

Evolution of the project

MEK General View

Gorshkov proposed to use for Marpost the already developed and designed by RKK Energia space complex called MEK (Mezhplanetniy Ekspeditsioniy Komplex), or Interplanetary Expeditionary Complex. MEK is an official name for Marpost mission. Its projected cost is $14-16 billion and the period of realization is 12-14 years. The elements of MEK were initially designed to be launched into space by Energia heavy booster resembling Saturn V moon booster by its payload capacity. Later however, in order to lower the cost of the mission, the elements of MEK were redesigned to be launched by Proton or Angara (still in development as of 2007) type of boosters. The overall weight of MEK is about 400 tons. It will be powered by ion thruster engines.[4]

See also


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