Carrie’s Choice
(A Steel Industry Fantasy)

By IonMars

February 1, 2015

“It is 2033 and Carrie faces the biggest decision of her life. If she makes the right choice she will make billions of dollars and become the new industrial tycoon of Mars. She will restore her family name to the top of the steel industry, albeit within a new colony on a remote planet. If she makes the right choice she will follow her illustrious forebear, Andrew Carnegie, who established the steel industry in the United States 150 years before, by introducing the Bessemer steelmaking process.”

In this article, IonMars introduces an imaginary personality to explain a real issue that will be addressed by the planners of a Mars colony. The question centers on the choice of three high quality iron ores that have been discovered on Mars. Which one should be exploited to initiate a new iron and steel industry? Which one will better expedite the building of a Mars colony using Mars-produced iron and steel products?

IonMars explains the traditional Iron and steel making processes on Earth, including the Bessemer converter and open-hearth processes. These involve a blast furnace, coke plant and a sinter plant. The modern processes are the basic oxygen furnace and the electric arc furnace. The choice between these options involves the type of energy source that can be brought to bear on Mars. It also involves a crucial political issue that must be addressed back on Earth.

To read on, press here.

Update November 11, 2014
Unofficial Guidelines for EVAs on Mars’ Surface

IonMars has adopted a Section from the official Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0 (March 2014 update) that lists the set of assumptions that went into the planning study. He changed the word “assume” into “will” or “shall” and entered some clarifying edits. The result is an unofficial Guideline for EVA on Mars’ Surface. It is a useful tool for understanding NASA’s current concept of operations and the procedures to be followed by Mars Explorers. From the home page click on “LIBRARY”, then “ARCHIVE OF TECHNICAL MANUALS”, then “UNOFFICIAL GUIDELINES FOR EVAS ON MARS’ SURFACE.”

Update November 10, 2014
“Prelude to Pioneering (1)” is published

In the first of two articles on Mars exploration, IonMars points out that just as expeditions of past centuries, the colonization of Mars will be preceded by a period of exploration. NASA has been planning for the human exploration of Mars through a series of planning documents that specify the techniques to be employed as well as what facilities, vehicles and equipment will be required. A Mars pioneer should become knowledgeable about these systems because these equipment and vehicles will likely be employed in colonization.

In the NASA plan, six Astronaut/Explorers will be launched from Earth inside an Orion spacecraft atop the Space Launch System (SLS). Once in orbit they will transfer to Transhab, one of three components of a Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV). The other components will be a Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR) propulsion system and a large, disposable fuel tank. Once in Mars orbit, the crew will transfer to a Mars habitat/lander that will place them onto the surface of Mars.

At the landing site the crew will engage with cargo that was pre-deployed to the same location. This will include an In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) plant to produce fuel and oxidizer for the return trip. It will also include a Fission Surface Power System (FSPS) to provide electrical power for the ISRU plant and for crew requirements. The crew will deploy a two-man rover to explore Mars’ surface. After the 1-yearmission is completed, they will launch inside a Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) that was previously landed with a cargo lander as a Descent/Ascent Vehicle (DAV). They will re-enter the Transhab for a long trip to Earth orbit, where they will land on Earth in an Orion capsule.

Update October 6, 2014
“Flex House” is Published

In this article IonMars shares personal thoughts derived from his Boy Scout youth that if you are not using ISRU at the beginning of Mars colonization you are “cheating.” Nevertheless, a flexible house plan (Flex House) will be constructed from materials imported from Earth or materials produced on Mars after industries have been established. Each Flex house will exhibit an arched roof covered by regolith. It will feature vertical sidewalls and double shell construction. Air will circulate between the shells to prevent condensation, which in turn will prevent mold colonies from forming. The structural elements of floor joists, wall studs, and ceiling rafters will be placed in alignment so as to facilitate air circulation around the house. Three practical sizes of houses will be 6, 8, and 10 meters wide and feature 1, 2 or 3 floors. An example one-floor plan exhibits amenities for 12 persons living in a compact space. Robot operators will utilize one room where they will control the robots operating on the surface.