Let’s go back to Solar Transportation for a minute, because it helps to explain some of the images in the Ehricke Papers. Ehricke’s team detailed a Mars lander that looked a lot like early Apollo concepts, but the some of the folders contain images of a landing using what looks like Gemini hardware. The timeline doesn’t fit for EMPIRE, but I think this image captioned in Solar Transportation is a clue.
Mars Capture Mission in 1982. Orbit crew inspects the nuclear twin engine NERVA II system of the Earth Departure Module. Each engine delivers 250, 000 lbs. of thrust.
From Solar Transportation:
In 1982, a 69 day Mars capture mission launches. The crew conducts intensive reconnaissance both from orbit, and using probes – including landers and returners – but no manned surface excursions are planned. A mission launched between 1984 is one-way, involving a 529 day stay on Mars. A follow-on mission in 1985 (via Venus) retrieves the crew.
Reading back through the General Dynamics and Douglas UMPIRE reports, I think there’s enough connective tissue to make the argument that the paintings below are at least vicinal to EMPIRE / UMPIRE if not directly related, like kissing cousins. It doesn’t really matter though, because I’m not a real historian, and this isn’t a thesis.
Above: Gemini, on Mars or wherever. Below: Yup, that’s a Mars Lander.
Image credit: Krafft Ehricke Papers
Image source: NASM