Solar System Explorer Missions
Shared Universe Series
(Text and images from e-mails
© 2007 by William R. Warren, Jr.)
Ladies, gents, and Rob in particular,
I created the piece for you. Yes, you may use it as you see fit.
Please credit me and consider my offer to provide more and increasingly
entertaining work ... my models of the Aphelion1 and Aphelion2
spacecraft are detailed enough to stand very close scrutiny, and I can
put them on Mars for some future issues if you'd like. (Well, the
descent stage landing craft at any rate.)
A couple of technical notes:
1. As I mentioned, there is *no* photography involved ... the
whole piece is 3D animation software generated, if you had a place to
put it I could send you a short animation of these spacecraft in
action. Might want to consider it, I could do animated opening covers
for you, how wild could THAT get? (An animated magazine cover ... eat
your heart out, Analog!)
2. The "blimp" between the Command Modules (the
Return/Braking stack near us and the Landing/Ascent stack nearest Mars)
is a serious proposal, state-of-the-art when I last worked in the
Industry. It's a big inflatable habitat module (double-skinned) to give
the crew room to move, exercise, and have some privacy. It's part of
the Constellation "Return To The Moon" proposal, but I scaled the
diameter down so you didn't lose the landing craft entirely. The
"stack" you see at the aft end (near end) is about twice the diameter
of the Apollo CSM, just for scaling purposes.
(Apollo diameter = 13 feet, Aphelion R/B Stack diameter = 30 feet. My estimate, DLH.)
3. There are probably several of those blimp modules,
uninflated, aboard the landing craft to establish a toehold on the
surface of Mars once they land, and I am assuming that several unmanned
missions have already successfully landed to create the beginnings of a
Martian home-port (which, in my conceit, I have already dubbed Port Arthur)
... those unmanned factory ships have been building return fuel for
some time by the point we see Aphelion 1 and 2 bring living brains to
Mars. No matter how good the hardware and the software, it is the
wetware that will make Martian exploration a success. (Blueberries my
aching *ss ...)
Check Dr. Bob Zubrin's "Mars Direct" for further details, he's a great party all by himself.
I built "Aphelion 1 and 2 Approach Mars" for your entertainment (and
mine) and yes, you have my permission and blessings and earnest hope
that you will use it to your hearts' content. Do credit due credit, I
"Aphelion1&2" was an 8-hour playtime for me ... I explore
3DS-MAX instead of playing even *GOOD* games like Flight Sim 2004 for
I have another proposal for you, as well. My piece showing that
"Aphelion-1" and "-2" spacecraft is digital and original. Might I offer
an idea for your readership/writership?
Although it was done strictly for fun and as a "portfolio offering"
to Aphelion (and while you guys and gals get first digital publication
rights and I may peddle the work elsewhere), it does represent an
evening's worth of hobby time on my favorite tool (I don't play
computer games, I write or mess around with 3DS-MAX, Poser, Photoshop,
or I write) and as such it is an investment in my time and attention.
(Gorrammit, let me finish, you're already thinking the wrong thing...)
The model I built of the Aphelion mission can stand up to pretty
close scrutiny already, and it's damn close to the new Constellation
Space Exploration Initiative configuration, just pushed on to Mars
rather than just the moon. I can readily add necessary detail and
further expand the Aphelion Mission portfolio.
So I offer a notion: Who among you would like to write tales about
the Aphelion Project that might expand upon my vision and like me to
illustrate the stories with the existing (and additional) models for
future issues of Aphelion? (Beats just using Hubble images ... but they
are breathtaking, aren't they?)
Time permitting, I would love the exposure (and it wouldn't hurt
your efforts, either) and, to quote Freeman Lowell or one of his
cohorts in "Silent Running": "Playin' time is practice."
Here's what I propose:
BACKGROUND: The Aphelion Project is a multi-vehicle manned
mission to Mars, at least partially funded by enough Americans that the
vehicles proudly bear the Stars&Stripes and "United States" -- but
I envision a multinational core crew. (Has America become an
overwhelming superpower? Is it fascist enough to insist unilaterally on
the "US" designation? Is it a private mission funded by patriots, and
other nationalities cooperate voluntarily? Is it a parallel universe
set in the 1980s or 1990s based on Apollo-era technology? Is it
something nostalgic reflecting upon a fallen America's past
accomplishments? I'll let you decide.)
The two "stacks" you see in my Aphelion Cover submission ("Aphelion 1
and 2 Approach Mars") consist of (from farthest to nearest) the Mars
descent and ascent stages and command module (a conical Apollo-esque
CM, but much larger -- proportionally similar to Apollo, but capable of
carrying anywhere from six to twelve colonists apiece. It is likely
that some of these berths will be empty on descent to permit extra
wetware on ascent in the event of mishap.)
the middle is an inflatable hab module for the journeys from Earth to
Mars and back, and orbital ops for the non-landing crew. It has a
communications platform and solar array on one side ... the non-sunward
side has a docking module to offset the CG and permit ship-to-ship
transfers and cargo module docking. It's tough stuff, but not
impervious, and it's double- or triple-walled for insulation and
atmosphere protection. (This module stays on-orbit around Mars and for
the round trip.) (Privacy for married couples? Unmarried couples?
Infirmary facilities? Gym? Are both identical, ncessarily?) And don't
forget, there *may* be several such modules, unmanned, already docked
and waiting for them in Mars orbit when they arrive ...
Apollo-esque CM is docked at the near end of this (out of view in my
earlier rendering), capable of Earth entry interface and carrying more
wetware than the Martian ascent stage (some redundancy is built in for
return of samples or in case of disabling of part of the other vessel's
hardware.) This is followed by a Service Module and the re-lightable
booster that will put the remaining stack on a Trans-Earth Insertion
Orbit after braking to enter Mars orbit. (I see the booster stage being
anywhere from 20-30' in diameter, I'll leave it up to you ... but once
it's established, everyone needs to stick to it and we have to try to
make the physics and consumable volume work.)
I am assuming that there is some infrastructure available in Earth
Orbit -- a space station to receive the Mars mission when it returns at
least -- and I also assume that several unmanned missions have preceded
the manned vehicles to land factory modules, inflatable habitats,
greenhouses, robotic explorers, etc. on Mars before the wetware
arrives. It is possible that not all of these robotic arrivals were
100% successful, but there must be a safety margin or they wouldn't
have launched people, am I right?
STORYLINES: Go nuts, gang. One of the ships cracking up on
landing? One of the vital pre-launched modules is stranded in nearly
impassable terrain, like the bottom of a meteor crater similar to the
one in Arizona? Proof of extraterrestrial intelligence? Political
turmoil on the Earth left months behind threatening loss of support?
Interpersonal relationships, good or bad? Curious problems caused by
isolation, hardware, something unforeseen?
ART: I will do what I can, but the 3D models of the
spacecraft exist, and I'm curious enough about them myself to be
interested to see what you come up with, by way of explaining what they
do, how they work, who's on them and why ... and it doesn't hurt me to
flex my artistic muscles occasionally to respond with a new piece of
art or two for Aphelion. Or more.
(Remember, Bill only works
from finished manuscripts - so the story has to be done before he'll do
illos for it. Futhermore, he'd be doing these for free for us, so he'd
have to have time away from paying jobs in order to do illos for
SO: What do you think? I'm throwing my hat into the ring. Who wants to pick it up? I'm willing to meet you halfway.
Besides: how many offers do you get from a pro-pubbed illustrator to
give you a collaborative playground and will do his best to give you an
illustration to go with your story? I want to see the reverse of a lot
of panels I've done at conventions, I want to see "art into story"
instead of explaining "story into art" ... but this would be "Art into
story into art." And back into new story, and new art ... round-robin,
collaborative and non-collaborative at the same time.
And it tickles my curiosity.
Be kind to each other (and to me) ... try to treat the project
seriously. It is remotely possible that such a collection of art and
fiction could eventually find publication, if we all make it good
It's just a thought ...
All the best, always,
William R. Warren, Jr.
(But I go by Bill)
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