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Terminal Descent



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Artwork featured in Issue 34 of 3D Art Direct Magazine Link here

The final image for my Mars Settlement vehicle EDL (Entry, Descent, Landing) sequence.

On final, descending through 450 feet. The fury of hydrogen burning with oxygen touches the Martian surface.

Precision landing technologies put NASA's Curiosity on Mars with pin-point accuracy. These same technologies are already being developed to the next level by SpaceX, as seen in their Grasshopper flight test program and will be implemented with their re-usable falcon/Dragon launch-systemSpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon Capsule, and their newly unveiled Dragon V2.

The landing craft of my fictional endeavor (110 in total) mass ten thousand tons each and are, each, approximately the size of a twenty story building (about 200 feet in height) this is the equivalent of tail-landing a Saturn 1b. For images detailing the entirely propulsive EDL sequence see image link-list below.  Descent from orbit begins when the Orion nuclear pulse carrier craft cancels its orbital velocity, releasing the Entry module, the Entry Module then follows a staged sequence of aerobraking, propulsive braking with open-cycle gas-core rockets, followed by chemical rocket powered descent to touchdown.

Cargo Carriers and Settler Landing Craft for my fictional Mars settlement need to land positioned in a relatively tight formation (a half mile or less separation distance) according to a preplanned pattern. Cargo Landers carry loads destined for specific purpose and will be opened and accessed according to a tightly scheduled time-table and plan.

The Mars settlement landers are guided to a precision landing on a predetermined landing grid. The first arriving Orion interplanetary vehicles (carrying the Cargo Landers) reach Mars well in advance of the crewed Settlement Landers – these deploy a series of orbital navigational data relay satellites. Each following lander would then send position data to the satellite network, and additionally act as ground tracking stations, increasing the number of surface beacons and thus the level of data available to assist in guiding the following descending vehicles in to their exact touchdown spot on the landing grid. Pointable laser-ranging instruments and laser target illuminator/designators (the latter tasked as a landing-target designator) are presently produced in compact and light-weight form as part of a multitude of military weapons systems and the application of these technologies could be easily incorporated as part of the flight logistics package mounted on the landing vehicles. Precision positioning 110 vehicles in a preplanned pattern would require something like this kind of systematic approach.

Work on this image involved building within the rocket plume a delicate balance of light and shadow: the thickening shadow as the plumes density is increased via rebound and ground-scatter impregnated with sand and dust thrown up from the Martian surface, balanced against the furious illumination of hydrogen/oxygen combustion – while the descending spacecraft and the Cargo-Landers already on the surface are brushed with the luminance of early dawn Martian sunlight.

Image is part of a future historical setting, more detail is found on my profile page under the heading Orion’s Arm Future History, A Synopsis. A Timeline Graph is to be found here: Timeline.

Mars Settlement Project Complete Sequence Image Links:

Final Preparations:

Right Before


Orion Nuclear Ground Launch

Terminus of an Arc

Entry, Descent, Landing:

Propulsion Module/Entry Vehicle Separation

Piercing the Veil

Flight Control

A Sound of Thunder

Cue The Pyrotechnics

Riding The Fire

Over Noctis Labyrinthus

Terminal Descent

Post Landing:

Martian Dusk
Image details
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AriverInrome's avatar
Is this inspired by KSP?