Mars Direct is a proposed mission architecture, developed by Robert Zubrin and David Baker at Martin Marieta in 1990. Mars Direct uses a reduced set of technologies to land a small crew on Mars for a long duration science mission. This plan was summarized in the book, The Case For Mars, written by Robert Zubrin and Richard Wagner. Mars Direct was innovative for its use of in situ resource utilization (ISRU) and for its use of direct launch from Earth to Mars without orbital construction or Mars orbit rendezvous. Mars Direct relies on separate outbound and return vehicles, and a pipelined mission architecture for improved redundancy. It has inspired several later proposed mission plans, including NASA's Design Reference Mission.
There has only ever been one one Mars Direct proposed mission architecture. However, in some circles "Mars Direct" has become shorthand for any mars mission profile which reduces payloads and costs with ISRU and direct launch trajectories, including variants that make use of nuclear thermal rockets and NASA's Design Reference Mission. The term "Mars Semi-Direct" was coined by Robert Zubrin to describe otherwise similar mission architectures that employ of Mars orbit rendezvous.
This wiki article is about the original proposed mission architecture, and includes secondary discussion of only those variants described by the original authors, Robert Zubrin and David Baker.
In The Case for Mars, Robert Zubrin estimated the cost of development and operation of 3 missions at $20 - $30 billion.
On page 93 of The Case For Mars Zubrin gives the following numbers for the masses of each component. These are the masses to Mars's surface and not to orbit. Basically all of the mass is assigned either to the Hab or to the ERV.
Total Mass: 25.2 Tonnes
- Hab Structure: 5.0 Tonnes
- Life Support System: 3.0 Tonnes
- Consumables: 7.0 Tonnes consisting of (TCFM page 92):
- Oxygen: 160 kg total (1 kg/man*day at 80% reuse)
- Dry Food: 1600 kg total (.5 kg/man*day at 0% reuse)
- Whole Food: 3200 kg total (1 kg/man*day at 0% reuse)
- Potable Water: 0 kg total [?] (4 kg/man*day at 80% reuse)
- Wash Water: 2080 kg total (26 kg/man*day at 90% reuse)
- Electric Power (5 kWe solar): 1 tonne
- Reaction Control System: .5 tonnes
- Communications and information management: .2 tonnes
- Lab Equipment: .5 tonnes
- Crew: .4 tonnes
- EVA Suits (4): .4 tonnes
- Furniture and Interior: 1 tonne
- Open Rovers (2): .8 tonnes
- Pressurized Rover: 1.4 tonnes
- Field Science Equipment: .5 tonnes
- Spares and Margin (16%): 3.5 tonnes
- Manned mission to Mars
- New Mars Direct, and updated version currently being worked on at the newmars forums.
New Mars Forum Discussions
- The Mars Underground - A movie about Zubrin's Mars Direct released in 2006 (site requires Flash)