Krafft Ehricke’s Hyperion, a manned nuclear Mars mission

Hyperion - perspective free views

This is not the Hyperion by Phil Bono, (which you can read about here), but an earlier design from Krafft Ehricke, dating all the way back to the 1950’s. It’s for a manned mission to Mars, (no landing), and a fleet of 3 or 4 ships would be sent for mutual support. I got the information on this project from the always excellent “Atomic Rockets” site, including this plan, which is the basis for my mesh:

Hyperion Plans
Hyperion Plans

It’s a fairly standard design, dominated by big tanks, and a long neck to keep the crew well away from the nuclear engine. The tanks (and the large “Nerva” style engine), are dropped once they are no longer required

From my understanding this is the mission profile. Fly to Mars, brake into orbit, and conduct science without landing, before firing up the engines, and flying back

Hyperion at different mission stages
Hyperion at different mission stages

They would fly in a fleet of 3 or 4 vehicles, for mutual support.

Fleet of four Hyperion's
Fleet of four Hyperion’s

I replaced the tubular neck with a truss structure for reduced weight. The 4 pipes running down the truss are arbitrary. I added “space taxis”. These are not included in the original plans, (as you can see), but if the spacecraft are there for mutual support, you would need to be able to travel between them. So 2 taxis per craft, and 4 docking ports per craft. They would also prove potentially handy for exploring the small moons, (Phobos has an escape velocity of 11 metres per second).

One fun part was choosing the names for the ships! I threw this out on twitter, and go lots of cool suggestions. (No Marsy McMarsface thankfully). I wanted names that not only had a strong association with mars, but for which Mars was the strongest  association. (So no “Clarke”, as I’d save that for Jupiter or Saturn!). Also many didn’t realise that the name had to be established at the time the mission was planned. I have love the books of Kim Stanley Robinson, but this was before his time. So in the end I went for The Bradbury, The Bonestell, The Burroughs, and the Lowell.

I think this is my favourite render:

The Hyperion fleet ready to depart Earth
The Hyperion fleet ready to depart Earth

Here are some of the other finished renders I made:

Hyperion arrives at Mars
Hyperion arrives at Mars
Hyperion - perspective free views
Hyperion – perspective free views

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