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Acta Astronaut. 2001 Aug-Nov;49(3-10):495-522.

The future of human spaceflight.

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German Aerospace Center (DLR), 53183 Bonn, Germany.


After the Apollo Moon program, the international space station represents a further milestone of humankind in space, International follow-on programs like a manned return to the Moon and a first manned Mars Mission can be considered as the next logical step. More and more attention is also paid to the topic of future space tourism in Earth orbit, which is currently under investigation in the USA, Japan and Europe due to its multibillion dollar market potential and high acceptance in society. The wide variety of experience, gained within the space station program, should be used in order to achieve time and cost savings for future manned programs. Different strategies and roadmaps are investigated for space tourism and human missions to the Moon and Mars, based on a comprehensive systems analysis approach. By using DLR's software tool FAST (Fast Assessment of Space Technologies), different scenarios will be defined, optimised and finally evaluated with respect to mission architecture, required technologies, total costs and program duration. This includes trajectory analysis, spacecraft design on subsystem level, operations and life cycle cost analysis. For space tourism, an expected evolutionary roadmap will be described which is initiated by short suborbital tourism and ends with visionary designs like the Space Hotel Berlin and the Space Hotel Europe concept. Furthermore the potential space tourism market, its economic meaning as well as the expected range of the costs of a space ticket (e.g. $50,000 for a suborbital flight) will be analysed and quantified. For human missions to the Moon and Mars, an international 20 year program for the first decades of the next millennium is proposed, which requires about $2.5 Billion per year for a manned return to the Moon program and about $2.6 Billion per year for the first 3 manned Mars missions. This is about the annual budget, which is currently spend by the USA only for the operations of its Space Shuttle fleet which generally proofs the affordability of such ambitious programs after the build-up of the International Space Station, when corresponding budget might become again available.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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