SPACE


Radiation Protection in Space Travel

Mars is the future. It’s after all NASA’s current overarching goal to send humans to the Red Planet. But even as early as the 1950s, aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, had published his vision of a mission to Mars in his book The Mars Project. We’ve also heard visions of settling the Red Planet under the leadership of a private organisation before but how feasible are his ideas? Under current scenarios a journey to Mars takes about six months. The crew would therefore be exposed to the effects of long duration space flight where muscle and bone loss occurs under the prolonged exposure to micro-gravity. These effects appear to be largely reversible though. Of more concern is the radiation exposure when the crew leaves Earth’s protective magnetic field. There is currently no shielding technology that would keep the increased cancer risk for the crew below legally accepted limits. And this does not take into account the need to protect astronauts from solar flares, too, in the short term. Prior to establish blueprint for colonies on planets such as Mars, EmTDLab is currently exploring ways to protect astronauts from the radiation. Once plans are evolving we will focus on the strategic planning phase to establish a colony on Mars, most likely with the help of public and private partnerships.

Alternative Propulsion

Nearly 50 years after landing on the moon, mankind has now set its sights on sending the first humans to Mars. The moon trip took three days; a Mars trip will likely take most of a year. The difference is in more than just time. We’ll need many more supplies for the trip itself, and when we get to the Red Planet, we’re going to need to set up camp and stay for a while. Carrying all this material will require a revolutionary rocket technology. The Saturn V was the largest rocket ever built. It consumed an enormous amount of fuel in explosive chemical reactions that propelled the Apollo spacecraft into orbit. After reaching orbit, Apollo ejected the empty fuel tanks and turned on its own chemical rockets that used even more fuel to get to the moon. It took nearly a million gallons of various fuels just to send a few people on a day trip to our nearest extraterrestrial body.

 

So how could we send a settlement to Mars, which is more than 100 times farther away than the moon? The Saturn-Apollo combination could deliver only the mass equivalent of one railroad boxcar to the moon; it would take dozens of those rockets just to build a small house on Mars. Sadly, there are no alternatives for the “chemical” launch rocket; only powerful chemical explosions can provide enough force to overcome Earth’s gravity. But once in space, a new fuel-efficient rocket technology can take over: plasma rockets. Physicists  have figured out how to optimize an advanced type of electric rocket thruster that uses a stream of plasma  to propel spacecraft forward, allowing them to run on 100 million times less fuel than conventional chemical rockets. Known as a Hall thruster, these engines have been operating in space since 1971, and are now routinely flown on communication satellites and space probes to adjust their orbits when needed. EmTDlab is currently in the feasibility study phase to start the programme. We rely on vast knowledge on physics and plasma engineering to further elaborate on the plan. If the feasibility study shows favorable results EmTDLab will raise fund to sustain the project.