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Artist concept of a Mars habitat
Artist concept of a Mars sample return mission
A concept for a combined surface habitat and ascent vehicle from the 1990s era Design Reference Mission 3.0

NASA Design Reference Mission 3.0 was a "NASA study for a human space mission to the planet "Mars in the 1990s. It was a plan for a human exploration architecture for Mars.



The study was performed by the NASA Mars Exploration Team at the NASA's "Johnson Space Center (JSC) in the 1990s. Personnel representing several NASA field centers formulated a “Reference Mission” addressing human exploration of Mars. The plan describes the first human missions to Mars with concept of operations and technologies to be used as a first cut at an architecture. The architecture for the Mars Reference Mission builds on previous work, principally on the work of the Synthesis Group (1991) and "Robert Zubrin's (1991) concepts for the use of propellants derived from the Martian atmosphere. The primary purpose of the Reference Mission was to stimulate further thought and development of alternative approaches which can improve effectiveness, reduce risks, and reduce cost. Improvements can be made at several levels; for example, in the architectural, mission, and system levels.

The report of the Reference Mission Version 3.0 states:

"From the work of the original Reference Mission (Version 1.0), the strategy for the human exploration of Mars has evolved from its original form to one of reduced system mass, use of a smaller, more reasonable launch vehicle, and use of more current technology. The steps which have been taken by the Exploration Team are motivated by the need to reduce the mass of the payload delivery flights, as well as the overall mission cost, without introducing additional mission risk. By eliminating the need for a large heavy-lift launch vehicle and deleting the redundant habitat delivery flight in Version 3.0 , two launches from the Earth were eliminated. The net result is a current Version 3.0 Reference Mission which requires an injected mass of approximately one-half that of the 1993/94 Reference Mission."["citation needed]

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NASA Design Reference Mission[edit]

General Mars exploration[edit]

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