Establishing A Crewed Presence On Titan

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As humanity is going back to the moon, we have our sights set on Mars; after Mars the next stop is Saturn’s sixth moon, Titan. Designing a crewed mission to Titan requires taking advantage of newly proven technologies and larger payloads. What would normally take seven years with a Hohmann transfer can be reduced to four years with a direct-tangent transfer. Titan holds many possibilities for scientific discovery, having prebiotic conditions, weather patterns, tectonics, hydrocarbon seas, labyrinthine terrain, subsurface oceans, and possible cryovolcanoes. Having a station orbiting Titan holds many benefits, the outer solar system could be reached without relying on once-in-a-lifetime alignments, methane from the atmosphere could be easily stored for propellant, and emergency logistics for future missions could be available. In order for humanity to reach Mars, certain technological hurdles can be assumed to have been solved. These include food supply, radiation protection, reliable ECLSS systems, nuclear electric propulsion, and ISRU processes. A mission to Titan’s surface requires precursor missions to set up communications, unmanned equipment, an orbital platform, and an initial surface base. A satellite would provide communications and observational data while drones on the surface could create detailed maps and gather samples for analysis. The first crewed mission will deploy the orbital platform, remotely deploy the surface module, direct surface robotics, and conduct atmospheric experiments. The second crewed mission would travel down to the surface to explore Titan’s features. Hano crater offers a variety of Titan’s many terrain types in a relatively small radius, making it an excellent testbed for exploration.

Space Architecture, Titan