Human Space Exporation

"Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever." - Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

The history of humankind has been defined by exploration and expansion. From the tribes of our early ancestors through the colonization of the New World to present day, human civilization has sought out the frontier. Technological advances in the past century have allowed society to conquer the remaining frontiers on Earth. It is only natural that humanity turn skyward to the next frontier: space. The expansion of the human biosphere into space is the ultimate goal of space programs across the globe.
SpaceWorks has extensive experience performing analysis, design, and optimization for human space exploration concepts and architectures. We can support customers in a variety of roles, including independent assessment of exploration architectures and element design, direct integration with customer analysis teams as disciplinary technical specialists, and indirect integration with customer analysis teams in a support role.
Our in-house capabilities include:
  • holistic architecture assessment and concept development
  • performance analysis including closure, mass and sizing, in-space trajectories, propulsion, thermal protection, and entry, descent, and landing
  • life cycle analysis including cost, affordability, operations, and reliability
  • systems engineering, program processes, requirements, and risk assessment
  • commercial assessment for business case analysis or macro-economic studies
  • concept illustration, 3D modeling, and visualization

Torpor-Inducing Transfer Habitat for Human Stasis

Under a research grant with NASA's NIAC program in the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), SpaceWorks is currently maturing technologies to enable human stasis via mild hypothermia. This technology would be used for the transit phases of human exploration missions and significantly reduces system mass and habitat volume requirements. For this program, both the medical aspects as well as evaluation of various spaceflight missions to Mars and beyond are being evaluated.

A concept overview and plans for the current Phase II effort were briefed at the 2016 NIAC Symposium.

A technical paper covering the medical aspects of the technology was presented at the IAC 2016 meeting.

Additionally, an archive of the team's most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) has been created here.


Lunar Lander Concept

Lunar Lander Design and Study of Alternatives

SpaceWorks performed a study of lunar lander designs providing surface access from Earth-Moon Lagrange points L1/L2 and using NASA's human exploration elements. In the study, SpaceWorks explored the driving design constraints of a lunar lander concept within NASA's current exploration roadmap, and methods for working within these constraints. In addition, SpaceWorks conducted a trade study of different lunar lander propellant and configuration options.

The results of this study were presented to the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Telecon Colloquium.


Payload Delivery to Low Lunar Orbit (LLO)

Cryogenic Propulsive Stage Parametric Study

SpaceWorks performed a parametric study to characterize the influence of propellant mass fraction, specific impulse, boil-off rate, and LEO loiter time on the design of cryogenic propulsion stages for future human exploration missions to Earth-Moon Lagrange points, the Moon, NEAs, and Mars. SpaceWorks then developed an architecture using common all-chemical cryogenic propulsion stages to achieve these missions. This project was sponsored by the United Launch Alliance.

The results of this study were presented at the IAF/AIAA GLEX 2012 conference and were published in a paper.


Exploration Cost Analysis Support 

In support of NASA's Strategic Cost Analysis Team, SpaceWorks provided DDT&E, TFU, acquisition, and LCC estimates for various DRAs and potential exploration paths (Moon, Mars, asteroids, etc.). Notable elements included surface habitats, landers, and aeroshells, and assessments included utilization of international partners (e.g. ESA, JAXA, etc.). In addition, SpaceWorks developed the Cost Research and Analogy Library (CoRAL), a database containing cost, performance, and programmatic elements for various space systems. This work was sponsored by NASA Langley Research Center.


Human Mission to Mars 

SpaceWorks developed a viable Mars architecture based on Project Constellation launch vehicles and related lunar transportation technologies. All-chemical LOX/LH2 transfer vehicles with active zero boil-off were used and no in-situ resource utilization (propellant manufacture) was assumed. An overall concept of operations was outlined and details were provided on element masses, Earth-Mars transfer times, development and operations costs, and estimated mission reliability. The results of this study were presented at the AIAA Space 2007 conference and were published in a paper.