#2424: FlammabLegs

The main problem with a manned trip to Mars is the manned return trip from Mars.

You need a lot of (heavy) fuel to get back off the planet surface. A tank with the usual liquid rocket fuel would be just too heavy to take all the way from earth.


One alternative is to carry a buggy and drive towards one of the poles…gather lots of ice (if it’s actually there) and then electrolyse that to make hydrogen and oxygen (before carting it back to the landing site in a balloon or two).

Today’s invention is an alternative, and perhaps less risky, approach.

A small lander would descend from an orbital vehicle (as in Apollo). The lander would have a base section (red) which has to be there anyway to absorb the landing.

This would be constructed of a strong case on legs filled with Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant (APCP), a flexible, load-bearing solid material which is often used to make military rockets. This can be profiled during manufacture so that the burn occurs in a sequence of bursts.

When the time to depart came, the whole of this platform would be ignited from the underside, propelling the crew module into orbit as the undercarriage consumed itself.