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Tuesday, August 9, 2005



Hopping Aircraft

<i>Mars Ship 1</i>.
Mars Ship 1.
Credit: Space.com
Pioneer Astronautics, which Robert Zubrin heads, has developed a craft capable of using CO2 as its main propellant. The craft compresses the gas to make it liquid and then sends it through a preheated pellet bed, causing the gas to expand and produce thrust. With carbon dioxide as the main propellant, it could obtain fuel from the atmosphere of Mars, which is mainly composed of CO2.

"The flight vehicle could either be a ballistic vehicle...or a winged airplane that would take off and land like a Harrier, then transition to horizontal flight," said Zubrin. A winged craft, the more efficient option, would be able to travel farther, while a ballistic craft would only cover a few miles, with an initial launch thrust and then a fall like a projectile. After a month of flight the craft would be recalled to reheat the pellets and refuel (although it can refuel while on duty). The craft has already made a 1660-foot flight. "We call her 'Mars Ship One,'" Dr. Zubrin said, "because the desert skies of Mars are its oceans, and she is the first craft designed to navigate them." Mars Ship One has a wingspan of 14 feet and weighs 118 pounds. The craft will be on public display August 11-14, 2005 at the 8th International Mars Society Convention.

(More info: Space.com, Pioneer Astronautics)


- posted by Jim @ 13:27 EST