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Argosy:T minus 20 Hours

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After Apollo 11 and Apollo 12, NASA used the momentum of those triumphs to launch their proposal to develop several pieces of hardware, the Nuclear Ferry or Primary Propulsion Module, which could provide regular transportation to Geosynchronous orbit and the Moon, and the Standard Mission Module, which could serve as a planetary surface base or orbital station. These, combined with a Science Mission Module specific for the destination, could be combined to form Project Argosy spacecraft, capable of missions to Mars, Venus, asteroids and comets. For these deep=space missions, the Argosy spacecraft would launch from Earth orbit, with two PPMs boosting the main craft into its transfer orbit, then separating, to decelerate themselves to return to Earth orbit for reuse. The lone remaining PPM would provide power and propulsion for the rest of the mission. In this way, a robust compatible collection of manned craft would be available for standard missions, in a flexible architecture to meet varieties of mission needs. I've attached the name Argosy, or treasure fleet, to the project.

Here, the nuclear boosters have been joined with the mission spacecraft, and final check outs and adjustments are proceeding in Earth orbit. In 20 hours, the window will open for the Mars launch.

Modeled in Lightwave 10. I already had the Nuclear Ferry modeled, and I'm still working on the Science Module and Standard Mission Module. Thanks for taking a look!
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nexusoflife's avatar
We had the technical knowledge to land humans on Mars back in 1981.
uglygosling's avatar
What portions are the human occupancy modules?
I have to say these illustrations are magnificent.

The biggest issue with space exploration is not technology...

It's the human equation. If you spend time in a weightless environment, even if you exercise and do resistance training, your skeletal and musculature atrophy. And if you stay in the environment long enough, you will not survive.

If we could come up with a way to simulate gravity - and I mean without the crude centrifugal force models - we'd be able to operate in space as long as we would like.

You could spend years in space.
mavmaramis's avatar
Could almost be Chesley Bonestell
STILL a viable concept that will work with our current technology and can be done with or without nuclear power, even though that is the most efficient fuel.
somercet's avatar
Ah, we can dream. :(
SoFDMC's avatar
Nuclear powered rockets would be the best way to open the way for manned exploration of Mars by cutting down the journey time to weeks.
Tyyrlym's avatar
That is just all kinds of sexy.
007Blacksheep's avatar
WOW Brilliant Illustration work.
William-Black's avatar
Exceptional work on your research and execution. This is one of the best depictions of the Boeing/North American Rockwell Mars mission spacecraft I’ve ever seen. It’s great to see new post-Apollo Integrated Program Plan art. Very well done!
Taka67's avatar
If they only had done this. :(
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Well, someone may do it, someday...
StealerofSuns's avatar
SpaceX. Elon Musk ftw.
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Well, sorta. I love the optimism and engineering creativity that Space X has brought to an industry that seems to be more and more accomplished at explaining why they CAN'T do something, but they can't pull off a Mars mission on their own. At some point, a nation, or nations, must commit to the vision of moving out into the solar system, and make it a priority backed with ideology and proper resources.
StealerofSuns's avatar
I don't think they could pull a mars mission on their own, not currently. But that doesn't /necessarily/ mean a government has to be involved either (Though I think in all likelihood they will in some manner or another, be that NASA, ESA, etc). After all, there's Bigelow which could supply components for the craft needed for the trip there, and this reusable rocket tech that SpaceX is developing could well be a game changer, make space exploration actually appealing to governments. Who knows? I think there is still a significant amount of hope for our future in space.
Thomas-Peters's avatar
You make good points. There are some technological possibilities that could radically change the equation, and a private / government cooperative venture is a great idea. I know it will happen sometime, I just hope I'm around to see it.
StealerofSuns's avatar
Major infodump here, but this is all amazing stuff:

I think it will happen sooner than we might think. Though SpaceX may not currently have the capability, it has actually been stated many times by their CEO that Mars is actually the ultimate goal for their company, and a colony at that. In fact, they have announced that the name of a rocket that they will be building (Formerly thought to be the Falcon XX) is actually to be called the Mars Colonial Transport.

The reusable tech is basically a way to revolutionize space travel, and through that, get to Mars. They've already flown 800 feet with a very large test rig and landed vertically with one of the same exact engines used on a falcon 9, and the next phase of this effort, (Called the Grasshopper series of vehicles) will attempt to go up 300,000 feet and land vertically on the pad. Even nearer future than that (And that is very near future, perhaps less than a year away) is the next falcon 9 launch. They are actually going to do a controlled descent of the first stage over the ocean, in preparation and to develop the tech for eventual rapidly reusable rocket launches.

So, sorry for that infodump, but I think the future in space is brighter than one might think. We unfortunately must look past NASA for some of these things, but they will happen given time, and perhaps even sooner than if NASA had undertaken the efforts.

And you should totally look up that Grasshopper footage if you haven't seen it. It's pretty awesome xD
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Yeah, I've been keeping up on the Grasshopper. It really is an elegant idea. Eventually, the first AND second stages , as well as the Dragon spacecraft, will come back for a vertical soft landing. Its a brilliant idea, and I think Space X may just have the daring and engineering prowess to pull it off. The Mars Colonial Transport is an awesome looking beast-- it seems to have many of the specifications of von Braun's NOVA class boosters, his follow on to the Saturn V, which, of course, was never built.
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Jburns272's avatar
Excelent work as usual.
Both the art and the concept :)
kedamono-mizudori's avatar
Drell-7, I just showcased this illustration on my Real Spaceship Illustrations site. I really like your work and I will probably showcase more of your work in the future. Thanks for making Real Spaceships!

[link]
CUTANGUS's avatar
Excellent work!
Are these the N.E.R.V.A. rocket engines, isn't it?
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Yes. Specifically, these are the NERVA 2 engine, producing 250,000 lbs of thrust.
exocolumn's avatar
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