Flightglobal Hyperbola column’s analysis of the new privately-led space race to land a man or woman on Mars (between Dennis Tito’s outfit, SpaceX and Mars One) has led us to consider how we would do it. Actually, we would go for the “Tuco” approach. Tuco was the villainous character in the Spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1967), who liked to use different parts of various revolvers: barrel, cylinder etc to build his ideal pistol.
In this instance we would use different elements for differnt firms to form our ideal mission. For example, the Isle of Man’s Excalibur outfit’s electric thruster powered space liner, launched via a Proton or Falcon Heavy or even via an SLS, and attached to a chemical transfer and braking stage, would be an ideal manned transfer vehicle. Its electric thrusters, used on the return leg, might make a Mars mission faster than it would be using an energy efficient Hohmann transfer orbit. But getting to and from Mars orbit is only part of the problem.
While originally mooted for Moon missions, Excalibur Almaz’s converted space station could be ideal for Mars missions. ...