NASA, along with industry and international partners, continue to explore options to achieve the horizon goal of landing humans on the surface of Mars by 2040 and returning them safely back to Earth. One of the most significant hurdles in achieving this ambitious goal is the return portion of this journey. Through the Mars science rover programs, NASA has gained significant experience with landing assets on the surface of Mars, but for a crewed mission, returning the crew safely back to orbit from the surface will be an unprecedented achievement. Despite the significant experience with launching systems from Earth’s surface into orbit, launching hardware from the surface of a distant planet, with little to no ground support structure, and up to 20 minutes of communication delay remain the most significant challenge of any crewed Mars mission. In addition, limitation in the current entry, decent, and landing technology necessitates a piecewise approach in the assembly of the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). The NASA Strategic Analysis Cycle 21 Human Mars Architecture1, a two-lander approach to this problem was proposed. TRTL accomplishes this mission in two simultaneous phases. First, a Mars Ascent Vehicle, with the help of a lander, will touch down on the surface. Already filled with liquid methane as its fuel, the MAV will harness in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) to fill its liquid oxygen tanks in preparation for human arrival. Second, an orbital taxi will wait in a 250km circular orbit. The MAV cannot reach the 5-sol orbit on its own, so it will dock with the taxi and receive a boost to the higher orbit.
Department Aerospace Engineering
Sponsor N/A
Advisor Dr. Alvaro Romero-Calvo
Primary Email Contact
Table # R8


Name Major Hometown
Aaron Hammond AE Brodheadsville
Eleanor Smith AE Akron
George BLackwell AE Fairfax
James Farmer AE Augusta GA
Jurist Chan AE Houston
Lonnie Webb AE Birmingham, Alabama
Pessi Laensirinne AE Atlanta
Reid Fly AE Augusta, GA
Sparsh Desai AE Avenel, NJ