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Give 'em Hell, Devils
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Didn't we see a news report in this episode that North Korea sent an unmanned rocket with supplies? Maybe they'll be able to use those.
 

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All About Footwork
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No. Speculations don't need tags.

Is Danny second in command? I know they won't kill-off Ed, but that is a nightmare scenario should Ed be incapacitated for any length of time.
 

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Give 'em Hell, Devils
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I thought the North Korea rocket was the one that failed and ended up crippling Polaris (the SpaceHotel)?
I just rewatched that scene. Here's what the newscaster said:

"According to sources at the Pentagon, the North Korean space program sent their own unmanned probe to the Red Planet in the weeks prior to the launch of Sojourner 1. The North Korean program has struggled to keep pace with other nations and is still on the defensive after debris from one of their failed rockets brought about the Polaris . . ."

and then the channel changes and we don't hear the end of that sentence. So if it's just an unmanned probe, it probably doesn't have supplies that can be used, but maybe that will be the big surprise of the season. They'll think they're about to die and then they find the landing site of the NK ship and it's got tons of supplies they can use.
 

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TV MA SLV
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I like that one of the big alternative timeline things is right in the show, instead of just, it happened, Gary Hart is President whatever, Ellen Wilson becoming President has direct ramifications in the show.

-smak-
 

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I just rewatched that scene. Here's what the newscaster said:

"According to sources at the Pentagon, the North Korean space program sent their own unmanned probe to the Red Planet in the weeks prior to the launch of Sojourner 1. The North Korean program has struggled to keep pace with other nations and is still on the defensive after debris from one of their failed rockets brought about the Polaris . . ."

and then the channel changes and we don't hear the end of that sentence. So if it's just an unmanned probe, it probably doesn't have supplies that can be used, but maybe that will be the big surprise of the season. They'll think they're about to die and then they find the landing site of the NK ship and it's got tons of supplies they can use.
Forgot about that. With so much going on, I'll forgive myself. I might need to start watching it twice before posting.
 

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I like that one of the big alternative timeline things is right in the show, instead of just, it happened, Gary Hart is President whatever, Ellen Wilson becoming President has direct ramifications in the show.

-smak-
When Ellen was giving her speech in the MCC FCR, my read was it was just words, she was no longer connected to those people in that room. Aleida saying to Margo "She's one of us" with Margo replying "Not anymore". And Margo was right.
 

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204 No Content
Custom Title 2
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But the mission Ed is commanding is going to have to change, at least until Mars. My bet is that whatever Phoenix has to do rescue the surviving crew of the NASA Sojourner One’ and the Soviet Mars-94 vehicles will result that the mission is now a one-way trip and the combined crew will need to survive.
That's an interesting (and plausible) take on things:

1. Sojourner has had to rendezvous with Mars 94. We already know that consumed enough fuel that they don't have the safety margin needed to complete the mission.
2. Sojourner has been involved with a collision with Mars 94, so there's a good chance the reentry shield isn't good for Earth reentry, and may not even be good for Mars. If they land on Mars, they likely don't have the fuel for taking the full complement home.
3. Sojourner will likely be exceeding margin on consumables with the additional cosmonauts, although depending on how the cable impact played out, they may only be netting 2 additional crew.

That said, there are so many unknowns here, and they do play fast and loose with physics and orbital mechanics[1].

So I suspect the following:

1. Sojourner can't complete a mission, and with the abort options plus damage, at risk for not being able to return to Earth. It may be able to get to Mars, if they can get a ride home with someone else.
2. That Phoenix will have to rendezvous with Sojourner. The combined mission can make it to Mars and land.
3. They'll have to figure out some combination of resupply and adaptation to get everyone back home again, or survive for a followon mission.

I'm speculating the Russians carried everything in the Mars-94 vehicle.
I expect that the Soviets at a minimum did an earth-orbit rendezvous and refuel. SSTO to Mars with return ability would require huge enough delta V that if they had that, they could easily beat everyone else to Mars with a small mission.

One question popped into my mind just now. How realistic is a direct abort at this point in the mission? Paging @kaszeta to the nearest Comm Box.
Realistically, I think any feasible manned mission to Mars needs to have some capability and reserve for a fueled direct abort. The fuel required isn't that big compared to slowing to low orbit around Mars or taking off again from Mars, so there are a lot of random options here.

1. Direct abort itself is a bit difficult due to orbital phase differences. Relatively easy to get back to Earth capture from a transfer orbit. Getting there quickly and actually rendezvousing with Earth is a bit more difficult, becoming more-so the closer you get to Mars. You've got two choices: catch up with Earth, or let Earth come around. For the former, early in the mission (<3 weeks), it's actually pretty easy to do this, but quickly becomes huge after that. This is probably the most viable approach for an early abort, with around 3-6 km/s impulse needed to get back to Earth and either re-orbit or reenter. This isn't particularly fast, even when done early, usually about 2x as long as the mission duration so far, but it's better than most of the other options.
2. Next up, direct abort, but let the earth come around. The good news, this is also pretty energy efficient (2.5-9 km/s), and usually works until just short of MOI, when this becomes uneconomical, and you need to get more creative. The bad side? Time is not your friend. You'll be home 10-14 months after launch, vs 21 for the standard mission
3. Free return trajectories for Earth-Mars aren't generally feasible. For the standard low-energy Hohmann transfer, Earth is in the wrong place, so a "free return" trajectory would bring you back to Earth's orbit with Earth being several months ahead or behind you. Actual free return trajectories only show up every few years, and take a lot more delta V than a standard mission. I don't think '94 was one of those years. On the rare cases they are available, it's around 16-18 months.
4. Even an assisted flyby of Mars is difficult to make it work, but it's possible; the idea is that if you abort well after TMI, but before MOI[2], you can tweak your trajectory to get a Mars gravity assist and immediately start your return, but it's hard to do this and still meet up with Earth.... remember, during a standard Mars mission you are essentially spending 3 months at Mars waiting for the planets to come back into alignment for the return trajectory, for a total trip of around 21 months. Again, option 1 is to catch up with Earth. You're almost certainly not going to have delta-V for that, and even the best option for that takes 8 months to get back, or around 4 months early. Option 2 is to wait for Earth to come around, and the delta V for that is small (~2 km/s) but the orbit for that is a huge looping orbit, and you're going to take more than 3 years to get back. I don't think that's gonna work.
5. If you have the fuel budget like Phoenix and aren't depending on refueling, and have enough fuel for the normal TMI return flight, doing the default mission without landing isn't the worst idea. No additional delta V, 3 months of orbital science, and come home.
6. There are a lot of neat tricks, however. You know that Venus Gravity Assist they used for the resupply mission? That trick works in the other direction, so after a few weeks, return via Venus for both the gravity assist in slowdown and correcting to get the right orbital phase becomes better than direct abort. Delta-V for this will vary year to year, but ranges from ~2 km/s to 6 km/s, and 20 month mission time. Saves only a little fuel vs actually going to Mars and spending 3 months there, but gets you home slightly faster.

I don't really know what the nuclear propulsion and methane options are for the various vehicles, but with traditional designs, having anything larger than 3 km/s leftover after TMI is probably a no-go (3 km/s is also about what you need to orbit Mars from a Hohmann TMI, BTW)

So yeah, especially when looking at consumables, I think a Mars mission needs the ability for a fueled direct abort, and it's not really that much more than the fuel you'd need for a Mars return anyways.

Add in the complication that for Sojourner to unveil the solar sail mid-voyage[3], they'd essentially be boosting to an orbit with a perihelion past Mars, and do a larger delta-V correction with engines at arrival (they can't do anything useful with the sail at that point), so they'd have to burn even more for a direct return.

Question: Should abject speculation of future plot points be Spoiler Tagged?
Uninformed speculation I think is fine. If you've seen and recall details from season trailers or teasers, I'd spoiler it or keep quiet. So far, for actual aired episodes, I think we know little:

1. someone lands in '94 on Mars.
2. I strongly suspect that someone includes someone that's not Helios

[1] They play fast and loose with orbital mechanics here, but realistically, if they all started out on a Hohmann transfer at the same time, if the solar sail were to do anything really useful for Sojourner, they'd be on a different orbital path now than Mars 94 and have to burn a lot of fuel to do that rendezvous.
[2] TMI: Trans-Mars Injection. MOI: Mars Orbital Injection.
[3] I know, I'm trying to let the poor orbital mechanics slide...
 

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All About Footwork
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why would the Koreans send supplies on an unmanned rocket?
 

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Give 'em Hell, Devils
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Good point. They sent supplies ahead of the manned mission. I guess the Koreans could be doing the same thing...
In this FAM universe, have we heard whether the North Koreans have even got anything successfully to orbit, let alone to the moon? Seems odd they'd be sending a probe to Mars when they haven't even accomplished those other milestones.

Also, if the US/USSR/Helios ships have been underway for weeks now, would the North Koreans have missed the transfer window if they haven't already launched a manned ship?
 

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I am Groot!
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In this FAM universe, have we heard whether the North Koreans have even got anything successfully to orbit, let alone to the moon? Seems odd they'd be sending a probe to Mars when they haven't even accomplished those other milestones.

Also, if the US/USSR/Helios ships have been underway for weeks now, would the North Koreans have missed the transfer window if they haven't already launched a manned ship?
The original American plan was to launch the supply ship during this window and the manned expedition during the next (two years later). Perhaps Korea was planning to mirror them, and simply couldn't move the manned portion forward..?
 

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WDW Fan
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That's an interesting (and plausible) take on things:

2. Sojourner has been involved with a collision with Mars 94, so there's a good chance the reentry shield isn't good for Earth reentry, and may not even be good for Mars. If they land on Mars, they likely don't have the fuel for taking the full complement home.
The don't technically need to do an Earth re-entry though right? They have a moon base where they could send a local shuttle to pick people up. Obviously they'd still have to get to the moon, I'm just pointing out that not being able to land on earth isn't a big deal in their timeline.
 

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204 No Content
Custom Title 2
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The don't technically need to do an Earth re-entry though right? They have a moon base where they could send a local shuttle to pick people up. Obviously they'd still have to get to the moon, I'm just pointing out that not being able to land on earth isn't a big deal in their timeline.
Good point, actually.
 
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