Mission Capture with a Multi-Role Capsule

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M. Hempsell (2006), JBIS, 59, 194-203

Refcode: 2006.59.194
Keywords: Space system requirements, space crew transport, multi-role space systems

The multi-role system concept is to maximise the number of mission that a system can undertake, thus maximising the value of its acquisition cost. The viability of this concept was explored by matching missions from International Space Station (ISS) support through to to Mars Landing with a feasibility design for a multi-role capsule. It was found that as the missions became more ambitious and moved further from lunar/Earth space, so increasing large add-on modules were required. However, these modules contained only simple elements like propellant tanks, increased pressurised space and supplies, and therefore represented lower cost developments; the expensive functions having been undertaken by the capsule. When it came to human interplanetary missions such as to Mars it was found that new primary transportation systems were required, but the capsule could still play a key role in support, for example Mars lander ascent stage, conducting Martian moon excursion missions and as the crew return to earth system. Given the immediate future of manned space flight is to maintain ISS operations combined with a range of exploration objectives beyond earth orbit, it is clearly not viable to develop specialist systems for each mission and multi-role systems will be essential. The feasibility concept illustrated how systems that require heavy development investment can made with sufficiently flexible to cover all these missions with only minimal additional investments.


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