Mars mission to help fuel Euro space ventures
February 14, 2018 | 9:34 PM
by Mars Correspondent/Times News Service
The simulation mission will help the scientists when they plan to put an astronaut on Mars

Marmul: Oman’s Mars mission simulation is being closely monitored by European Space Agency scientists, who hope to use the mission findings to fine-tune their own expeditions in the future.

These tests will be carried out by simulation astronauts, scientists, and researchers from the Austrian Space Forum (Oesterreichiches Weltraum Forum or OeWF), who are currently in Marmul as part of AMADEE-18 Mars research and simulation mission, which aims to put man on the Red Planet one day.

“Ariane-6 range of rockets is currently being developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), and we are here to check whether the safety standards and protocols being used for the experiments on this Mars simulation mission can also be used for our rockets,” Aline Decadi, dependability and safety project engineer for Ariane-6 rockets at the European Space Agency, said.

Close cooperation

“The ESA is in favour of a very close cooperation between participating countries, because that way, we can share data and collaborate on projects, instead of one country starting a project and then abandoning it halfway after realising that another country is working on the same thing,” she added.

Nearly 20 different experiments are expected to be conducted in Oman during AMADEE-18, which will last throughout February.

Some of the experiments being carried out include trials of HortExtreme portable greenhouse to grow crops on Mars, Aouda prototype spacesuit that will be worn by astronauts on the Red Planet, and Husky Rover, which will be used for laser-mapping of the Martian surface.

“Here in Oman, a number of experiments are being conducted under simulated conditions that reflect those of Mars. These will help us ascertain how good the safety standards are and whether we can adopt the same for Ariane-6,” Decadi said.

“Our first flights for Ariane-5 began in the 1990s. Technology has changed vastly since our first flights, and at some point, one has to upgrade because what one already has, stops being cost-effective,” she said.

Decadi further remarked: “In future, we want to launch Ariane-6 on a regular basis, although we might start a bit slowly and then scale up from there. We normally launch our rockets from our Guyana Space Centre in Kourou in French Guyana because it is very close to the equator and that makes it easier to manoeuvre a spacecraft or a satellite into a geostationary orbit that follows the rotation of the Earth along the equator.”


“It has a lot of open sea to the east. So, if there is debris from our spacecraft or rocket, it is less likely to fall on human settlements,” Decadi added.

Some 200 astronauts, scientists and researchers from 25 nations are collaborating on AMADEE-18, which is expected to have wide-ranging positive effects on space exploration.

Ariane-6 is expected to be launched in 2020, at a cost of some €3.6 billion (OMR1.71 billion).

The development of the project will cost some €4 billion, with each launch priced at some €70 million (OMR33.3 million), some half the price of Ariane-5. It contains two to four solid fuel rocket boosters, containing some 142 tonnes of propellant, providing a thrust of 3,500 kilonewton.

Propulsion module

It also contains a propulsion module with 140 tonnes of liquid fuel, made from liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which powers a Vulcain 2.1 engine, an upgrade over the current thruster used by France’s rocket programme, and is expected to provide about 1,370 kilonewton.

Ariane-6 will also contain 31 tonnes of liquid fuel to power the Vinci engine.

“Our intention behind Ariane-6 was to replace Ariane-5, but at a lower cost and in a more sustainable manner. We understand that sometimes this can be expensive, so we want to make it affordable. That is one of the major priorities of countries today,” Decadi explained.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news