Life Support System Trade Study for SpaceX Mars Mission
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Elon Musk’s 2016 SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) presentation of an interplanetary spaceship and multiple launch vehicles designed to transport 450 tons of cargo and 100 passengers to Mars excluded specifications for habitation on the surface of Mars and a life support system design. Assumptions for a Life Support System (LSS), Biomass Production System (BPS), In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), and Power Supply System (PSS) are presented in this paper. A parametric analysis of an Initial Mass in Low Earth Orbit (IMLEO) for the SpaceX Mars mission including the assumed LSS, BPS, ISRU, and PSS showed LSS and ISRU were very effective in decreasing IMLEO, thus decreasing mission costs. ISRU was the key system in producing propellant needed to return to Earth, eliminating the need to transport it from Earth. In addition, biomass production was vital for long-term missions and large populations of over 100 people. However, as biomass production increased, BPS mass and PSS mass increased, meaning the ratio of BPS mass per kilogram of the biomass production and the ratio of PSS mass per kilowatt must be decreased even when using LSS and ISRU.