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03-SUBSPACE LINKS
87-1701D
93-74205
95-74656
01-NX01
17-1031
20-75567
66-1701

Ares class mission spacecraft

Background

Taking place alongside the ongoing Aphrodite and Aventeur programs, the Ares series of missions was ISA’s initial (but long delayed) attempt to reassert Humanity’s presence upon Mars. While there was a general consensus that the planet needed to be revisited, the “when” was up for debate: the fall of the Great Khanate in 1996 certainly resulted in the complete loss of all life on the planet, but there was still concern about (non-evident) automated defenses that might result in a mission loss. After a number of fly-bys by probes reminiscent of the mid- and late-20th century, there was enough interest to finally fund an international effort, though limited in scope. There was considerable concern in expending copious amounts of finite funding on a major effort just to see it fall to Khan’s final flails from the afterlife. Instead, a more traditional explorative series of missions would be conducted and then, if those demonstrated mission security, efforts would be re-evaluated.

The joint ISA/NASA Ares spacecraft were, as with the Apollo program six decades earlier, comprised of two primary vessels: one a direct-ascent intrasystem propulsion system and the other the planetary descent vehicle. The first, generally referred to as the command module, was in reality itself defined by three specific modules: laboratory, habitat, and engineering. The lab was the smallest but not limited to simply scientific inquiries, as it had the docking/airlock assembly, orbital mission cockpit, and scientific compartment, with direct access to the data from the externally-mounted LIDAR and trans-spectral imager. Connecting the habitat module to the forward one was the communications trunk, which comprised 95% of the mission’s transceivers, as well as the docking port with the craft’s sole escape pod. A medium-sized communications dish on a 360/90-degree extendable gimble was suspended on the ventral side. The habitat module had all of the expected amenities for supporting the multiple weeks of round-trip transits, including sleeping & dining arrangements, exercise and medical bays, and shower & toiletry facilities. Bringing up the rearmost section was the engineering module, defined not simply by the two-nozzle ion drive, but also by the two prominent solar panels that served as a secondary means of recharging onboard battery systems. A maneuvering thruster array ringed the section, directly aft of the habitat module.

The second component was a direct relation to the Apollo lunar module, though far sturdier and with the ability to support excursions for up to 6 days (extendable to greater lengths when paired with prepositioned life support hardware). This single-stage Martian Lander also included an underslung cargo bay for a rover or other materials. Sleeping arrangements were recognizable to any user of hammocks on Earth, with rudimentary toiletry (and no shower) facilities. Extended stays would be predicated either on hardy explorers or additional equipment pre-positioned to support the facilities expected, such as laboratory, habitat, and power functions. Generally, the lander was not equipped to transport to orbit any cargo other than the two crewmembers, unless refueled during the surface layover.

The program went operational with Ares I, the USNS Anhur commanded by Verna Mitrios in May 2030. Intending to have human boots on the ground for only two days, the mission was designed to force-test the reliability of a remote crew and their vessel by launching and delivering them when Earth and Mars were on nearly opposite sides of Sol. Though the risk was nothing to dismiss, there was little concern for the mission, as the craft design had decades of use behind it, communication beacons would ensure uninterrupted signals, and the ion drive—while not perfected—was trusted.

Like all such-equipped vessels of the age, the engine’s greatest attribute of speed was not in question; instead, it was more of an issue of acceleration. The transit from Earth to Mars, at 376.6 million kilometers, could technically be achieved in just under two and a half hours. Since that would leave the crew as a red paste with a thin consistency on the aft cockpit bulkhead—the inertial dampening field was still 6 years away from operational release—the circuitous route around the system’s star was planned with a transit of 23.5 days. This was for the purpose of steady increases in velocity, so as to not incapacitate the three crewmembers. The effort was an indisputable success, with the famous first-step statement by Mitrios (“In collaboration and peace, Humankind conquers the God of War”) broadcast from the surface of the Red Planet to the entranced people of Earth.

Four other missions were already in the development phase when Ares I took off. USNS Mangala (Ares II) stayed for one week on the surface in early 2031, conducting additional equipment function tests. Mid-2032 saw USNS Guan Yu (Ares III) staying for three weeks, presenting and testing base longevity hardware.

Unfortunately, USNS TohilAres IV, commanded from orbit by John Kelly—did lead to a major mission failure, though fortunately not of all hands. USNS Odin (Ares V) was launched early to recover the two planet-side astronauts and though no sign of the Tohil’s command capsule was ever found (before 2376), confidence was high that the Augments were not responsible. Following a delay for a proper investigation of all data and telemetry, ISA reported the loss of Ares IV was an “unknowable incident” and cleared the world for further governmental and commercial exploration. (The first colony—defined as a settlement with permanent migrants—would not be founded until 2103.)

Missions

  • USNS Anhur – Ares I (2030): named for the Egyptian god of war; equipment function test; first manned return to Mars; length of stay limited to 2 days
  • USNS Mangala – Ares II (2031): named for the Hindu god of war; additional equipment function test; 1 week stay
  • USNS Guan Yu – Ares III (2032): named for the Chinese god of war; testing of base longevity equipment; 3 week stay
  • USNS Tohil – Ares IV (2032): named for the Mayan god of war; core sample mission and initial colony establishment (equipment installation); mission failure when command capsule disappears on October 19th
  • USNS Odin – Ares V (2032): named for the Norse god of war; early launch for rescue mission of Ares IV’s Rose Kumagawa and Andrei Novakovich on the surface; arrives November 9th

Blueprints/Orthos


Author: RevancheRM

Illustrator: Adrasil

Original Inspiration: VOY: “One Small Step”

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Last Updated on 2403.15 by admin