Hard Sci-Fi: Heading to Venus
Hi guys,

Let’s talk about Venus as one of the major parts of the Daedalus'  story and as the point of interest for future explorations within our  Solar System. Nowadays, Venus and Mars are the most attractive planets  for colonization and terraforming by humanity.

The risks and complexity of the technical challenges are inversely  proportional for those planets. Mars terraforming/colonization has  relatively large risks but relatively low tech complexity. Venus, vise  versa, has relatively low risks but very high tech complications.

I already posted the lore about construction of the Daedalus Space Station  in the previous updates with tech specs of the station. Here’ I’d like to take more about the Venus missions themselves.

One of the reasons induced humanity to begin "Daedalus" Space Program on Venus orbit in 2089 was the high approachability of the  planet compared even to Mars. Indeed, we can launch missions to Mars  every 4 years only but to Venus – almost every year.

THE WAY TO VENUS

"How long should it take to get to Venus?" - that was my original question on NASA’s Reddit  7 month ago. I made some researches and calculations and it turned out  that modern (and close future) spaceships flied and navigated along  ballistic orbits only; thus, that question was mostly about Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

My first based calculations you might found there leaded me to the answer: 53 days (Earth days). Though, that was too vast and too simple solution.

Guys from NASA on the Reddit shared the link on their Ames Research  Center Trajectory Browser. That useful tool counts various parameters to  find spacecraft trajectories to planets and small-bodies. Here you can  see the calculations I’ve made for the Daedalus Missions (as well as you can experiment with your own ideas using that tool): LINK.

That tool helped to understand better that there was no just one  simple answer for the question. To make such calculations really “hard  sci-fi” we needed to treat the question not like “one way trip”, but as a  regular missions with the cycle:

  • Earth Departure;
  • XXX Days transfer E-V;
  • Venus Arrival;
  • XXX Days Stay;
  • Venus Departure;
  • XXX Days transfer V-E.

Here I’ve drafted the optimal trajectory for the Venus one way mission (flyby): 48 days: (click to open picture).  

And the optimal trajectory for the Venus one way mission (rendezvous): 64 days: (click to open picture).

Albeit, we can see the different picture for the optimal trajectory for the Earth-Venus-Earth round trip mission (rendezvous): (click to openpicture):

  • 128 days transfer E-V;
  • 479 days stay;
  • 96 days transfer V-E:

Despite the calculator I linked above works only up to 2040 while the  game takes place in in XXII century, it clearly displays the recurring  cycles. Thus, with the model of Round Trip Rendezvous mission the  launching dates for missions will occur every 8 years: (click to open picture).

That would be too long for the Daedalus Mission in hands: manned Venus Space Station, with 2 manned transport spaceships (“Sunlight” and “Chennxing”) – one of them is always docked to the station while another is on Earth, they change each other swapping the Daedalus crew.

So I made another experiments and find out fitting solution (it looks  like): There are another optimal trajectory for the Earth-Venus-Earth  round trip mission (flyby). In that way the whole mission comprises:

  • 112 days transfer E-V;
  • 0 days stay;
  • 272 days transfer V-E.

Thus, the whole cycle should take around 1 year. The good thing is that the window for that cycle is open annually as well: (click to open picture) and (click to open chart).

Finally, that trajectory and concept should allow to keep the DSS  operated and manned all the time, with 1 year crew change cycle. That  matches the storytelling pace in part "...Only thirty days remain until the next crew rotation..."

That illustrates how the concept of the mission found harmony with storytelling and science through the hard sci-fi approach.

Frankly, since I began to seek science about that planet I’ve found  so many thrilling facts that I could not even suspected before. I don’t  feel to repost science here but I am going to put relevant links so that  you could check them yourselves. Most of the facts you will browse were  put as science background for our game and became a part of our  setting.

That is the basics you should know about Venus, its atmosphere and  geodynamics

The history of its exploration: there you might  find links to the drones Daedalus crew use for planetary researches;  that drones operate in the relatively mild temperatures of Venus' upper  atmosphere.

A set of manned NASA Venus mission concepts (High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC).

The concepts of Venus terraforming, colocolonization.  

Life on Venus: Venus’ biosphere is the primary focus of Jill’s studies).

Thermoacidophilic extremophile microorganisms that might exist in the lower-temperature, acidic upper layers of the Venusian atmosphere (they  are one of the objects of observations DSS drones are used for; they  takes probes in the Venus' atmosphere in specific areas):

* * *

Well, I hope you like that lore about our closest sis-planet. If you  read that basic science, you’ll be one more step closer to be ready for  the Mission that awaits you in Daedalus video game.

Thanks for your support, guys!

Sincerely,
Richard.