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Mobile Lunar Industrial Vehicle

Image credit: Krafft Ehricke Papers / Space Global

Image source: NASM

Man-Carrying Satellite

Found an interesting nugget here.

Convair Shuttlecraft at Astronautix

Image credit: Krafft Ehricke Papers / Convair

Image source: NASM

Atlas Space Station

Atlas Space Station at Atomic Rockets

Image credit: Convair

Image source: SDASM Archives

Migrator (Cutaway)

Image credit: Convair

Image source: SDASM Archives

Mars Convoy

EMPIRE at Astronautix

Image credit: Convair

Image source: SDASM Archives

EMPIRE Hunting: Part 4

In Orbit

Above: In the flyby scenario, Mars is studied by teleoperated probes. Below Artwork from Ehricke’s time at Convair showing the EMPIRE convoy in orbit. The MEV descends to the surface, landers based on NASA’s Surveyor are dispatched to Deimos and Phobos, a balloon deploys in the Martian atmosphere while a satellite begins to survey the planet.


Transportation [1]

Planets and Planetary Missions

Above: Surface operations. These images are from the SDASM Archive. Below: From the KAE papers, the MEV returns to orbit.

From: Transportation [1]


Above: With everything and everyone safely stowed, the fleet get a “Go!” from Mission Control. Below: Free of Mars’ gravitational pull – and on course for Earth – the third stage is discarded.

From: Transportation [3]

Arriving Home

Back in Earth orbit, the crew would transfer to the EEM for re-entry. I think these are from Ehricke’s time at Convair and the paintings by John Sentovic.

From: Artists’ concepts (Spacecraft) [1 of 6 folders]

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Image credit: Krafft Ehricke Papers

Image source: NASM

EMPIRE Hunting: Part 2

Leaving Earth

Above: The escape maneuver is performed by firing the first of four nuclear propulsion stages. The stages are jettisoned as each maneuver is complete. The crew ship rotates slowly to provide artificial gravity for the crew. Bottom Right: Drew Carey.

From: Artists’ concepts (Spacecraft) [1 of 6 folders]

En route to Mars

Left: Enjoying Frogger™ while someone else does the laundry. Right: The LLS is modularized, each module can be sealed off if damaged. Mid-deck and someone is taking a shower because in space someone is ALWAYS taking a shower.

From: Planets and Planetary Missions

Arrival at Mars

From: Artists’ concepts (Spacecraft) [1 of 6 folders]

It’s not clear (to me) whether this image represents the convoy arriving at or departing from Mars. Either way, it’s an amazing visual. If it’s arrival, the second stages are fired, slowing the convoy so the can be captured by Mars’ gravity.

From: Transportation [3]

Mars Orbit

Above: In Mars orbit, the hangar of the Cargo Module is depressurized and the crew remove and deploy surface probes. Below: One last treat, the Convair EMPIRE report went into great detail about the automated Mars probes. One concept was a Mars lander based on NASA’s Surveyor.

From: Artists’ concepts (Spacecraft) [1 of 6 folders]

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Image credit: Krafft Ehricke Papers

Image source: NASM

EMPIRE Hunting: Part 1

There’s a section in the Solar Transportation that’s fascinating, as Ehricke describes a Mars capture mission. Everything is calculated; launch windows, vehicles, propulsion systems and a detailed plan for putting it all together in orbit are considered. Apart from graphs and a plan view of the core vehicle module, there’s no artwork in that section of the paper. One other irresistible aspect of Solar Transport is the reference section, where Ehricke lists – well – his references:

From 1962

Ehricke, K. A., Space Flight, Vol II, Dynamics, Chapter 9, Interplanetary Flight, Sec. 9-7: Fast Three-Dimensional Interplanetary Transfer Orbits; Sec. 9-8: Fast Reconnaissance Missions in the Inner Solar System; Sec. 9-9: Interplanetary Flights Involving Several Planets; Sect. 9-14: Capture Operations

From 1963

Ehricke, K. A., Perihelion Brake Maneuver, in a Study of Early Manned Interplanetary Missions, Final Summary Report, no. AOK-001, pp. 7-36/37, General Dynamics/Astronautics, Advanced Studies Office, January 1963

Ehricke, K. A., Study of Interplanetary Missions to Mercury Through Saturn with Emphasis on Manned Missions to Venus and Mars/82 involving Capture, General Dynamics/Astronautics Rep. GD/A 63-0916, September 1963. Paper presented at Symposium on Engineering Problems of Manned Interplanetary Exploration by AIAA, Palo Alto, Calif., September 1963

From 1964

Ehricke, K. A., A Study of Manned Interplanetary Missions, Part 2 of Proceedings of the Symposium on Manned Interplanetary Missions, 1963/64 Status; NASA TM-53049, June 12 1964 (abbreviated version of the internal document)

Ehricke, K. A., A Study of Manned Interplanetary Missions, Study Performance Contract NAS8-5026, January 1964: also A Study of Manned Interplanetary Missions, Contract NAS8-5026, Final Report, volume III, Mission Oriented Studies, July, 1964

Having described the velocity profiles and launch windows required for the MCM, the paper talks about vehicle requirements:

Interplanetary vehicles, whose mission duration requires from 400 to 6000 days, must have an extensive on-board checkout and repair facility located in the Life Support Section (LSS). By placing the LLS in orbit at the beginning of the orbital assembly process, this section serves at the orbit launch facility. In its initial form the LSS has two modifications, compared to its mission configuration which is shown in Figure 21a. Orbit launch preparation modules (OLPM) are attached; and an LSS maneuvering propulsion module occupies the space in which the mission version carries the Earth Entry Module (EEM). The Earth assembly version configuration of the LSS configuration are shown in Figure 21b.

Fig 21a. Radial Life Support Section: Earth Assembly Configuration, acting as Orbit Launch Facility. Orbit Launch Preparation Modules (OLPM) will for mission, be replaced by Taxis. LSS Maneuvering Propulsion Module will be replaced by Earth Entry Module (EEM) (Reference 1964-12).

Fig 21b. Radial Life Support Section: Mission Configuration. Earth Entry Module (EEM) is located at forward end of Interplanetary Space Vehicle. Interface with propulsion section is rearward of the “shop”. External modules are jettisonable. (Reference 1964-12).

The thing is – in reading the paper – Ehricke is clearly referring to EMPIRE hardware, best described by David S.F. Portree in Humans to Mars which you can read for free at NASA History Division. Chapter 3: EMPIRE and After breaks down EMPIRE into delightful bite sized chunks and one of those chunks is about the General Dynamics contribution. I won’t try and paraphrase it, so just go and read Chapter 3. I’ll happily wait………

And now that you’re back, take a look at these images from A Study of Manned Interplanetary Missions and the report that contains it:

Venus Mission Vehicles

Fig. 2-1 Convoy consisting of Crew Vehicle and Service Vehicle (Cut-A-Way)

Fig. 2-2 Four basic configurations for interplanetary vehicles.

Mars Mission Vehicles

There are a couple of boxes in the Ehricke Papers that are really interesting because they appear to relate to the EMPIRE and UMPIRE studies, but they are presented without context. They’re undated and uncaptioned. What follows is my attempt to connect some of the dots. If you’ve read the same references I did, you might reach the same conclusions. Your mileage may vary.

According to the report – and depending on the configuration – the launch vehicles would either be RIFT, NERVA, NOVA or Saturn boosters.

These paintings are from the Krafft Arnold Ehricke Papers and this is where our story starts:

Equipment Launch into LEO

Above: Familiar artwork from (I believe) Ehricke’s time at Convair and most likely painted by John Sentovic. Below: Also from box one, this series appears to show the launch of the LSS by an unmanned rocket and arrival of the initial crew.

Vehicle Assembly

The EMPIRE vehicles would have been modular, assembled in LEO orbit before being sent along their way.

Above: The Propulsion Module combines with the Life Support Section to become – what’s referred to in Solar Transportation as – a Heliocentric Interorbital Space Vehicle or HISV. Below: Propulsion Modules arrive in orbit, vehicle assembly begins and the Orbital Tanker Vehicle begins fueling the fleet. Checkout complete, the mission crew arrive in a ferry vehicle.

From: Artists’ concepts (Spacecraft) [1 of 6 folders]

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Image credit: Krafft Ehricke Papers

Image source: NASM

Figure 2.

Unmanned probe approaching Pluto. Probe is powered by thermionic radioisotope power generator. The laser beams for surface illumination, with optical sensors slaved to the beams. Other equipment comprises radiation counters as well as field, plasma and particle sensors.

Image credit: Krafft Ehricke Papers

Image source: NASM