USS Stuhlinger (aka the Umbrella Ship) by RobertJ ()
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In 1954 Ernst Stuhlinger conceived the first Mars expedition using solar-electric propulsion. A nuclear reactor or solar collector would drive a turbine to provide electricity that would drive an ion engine using cesium propellant. The concept was studied at the US Army Ballistic Missile Agency from 1953 to 1959 and portrayed to a wide public in Walt Disney's broadcast of 4 December 1957. In the Disney presentation, Stuhlinger imagined a ten-ship expedition that would take 200 crew to the red planet.
Not knowing then was that his proposal was far more sane than the grand plan that von Braun had in mind, ION-drives are very efficient and that is exactly what Dr. Stuhlinger had in mind, although they would not call it an ion engine back in those days, the powerplant would be an atomic reactor and although the travel time would be longer than that with von Braun's plan, it required 8 times less mass per crewmember.
In this Disney production the ship was also known as a umbrella ship, way down is the nuclear reactor, the truss provides a safe distance for the crew habitat, the lander, cargocontainers and the radiators.
Other advocates of nuclear electric Mars expeditions (Korolev in the Soviet Union, NASA Lewis in the United States) would later propose that the crew ascend separately in a small vehicle and rendezvous with the Mars ship only just before it was to leave earth orbit. This would eliminate the long wait in earth orbit and prolonged exposure of the crew to the earth's radiation belts (which were not discovered at the time Stuhlinger made his original proposal).
And that sounds a bit like the current Nasa plans of returning to the moon.
Image Comments (14)
This is a fantastic image, beautifully rendered and executed...it's a LOT better than some of the art often utilized by NASA and JPL and such places when illustrating proposed designs. THIS is aeronautical and interplanetary art at its finest and I'm glad that I discovered this image and the whole gallery it belongs in! Great work! Wonderful attention to both accuracy and detail!
I was looking back through some of your older works and came across this. I don't know how I miss it the first time. This is a great bit of work. I'm going to add it to my favorites. I think you did a wonderful job at reinterpreting the original. There is a lot behind model. 5+