2014: Low Earth Orbit
If a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, then our 550-million-mile journey to Mars will begin with 550,000 1/500th-of-a-mile steps, as the LSE3, a multi-stage heavy lifter now under construction using the World War II-era Liberty Ship philosophy ("Make them fast, ugly and in large numbers"), launches our staging components into low earth orbit.
- Deceleration - Mars orbit insertion through aerobraking and final sky crane descent of the now separated modules is crucial in achieving the landing ellipse with minimal deviation. In other words, by the time the Virgle 1 reaches Mars, it will be flying very quickly and will have to slow down very quickly or the first landing of a human craft will be forever marked by a very large crater.
- Virgle 1 - Our standard ship's three-module configuration includes hab modules for each of two six-person crews and a Bio module for organics and supplies and to serve as a backup in case of unexpected...well, let's just say in case the first two hab modules should ever become uninhabitable.
- Delta V - The Mars insertion propulsion stack is a first-generation launcher based on the workhorse JGARV design and relying on classic propellants, ensuring a fast start to the mission and a soft deadline for our nuclear thermal research group.
- Mars Hab Modules - Prospective Virgle Pioneers may take a small measure of comfort from knowing that their future dwellings will be making the half-a-billion mile journey to Mars well ahead of them. Talk about a mobile home.
- Launch sites - Virgle's multiple launches spread across decades will require a number of launch and mission tracking sites. Prospective locations include the Mojave Desert, Southern San Francisco Bay, the Kingdom of Tonga and Necker Island.