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Mars engine, point zero

Published on:
April 11th 2017

"You guys sure read a lot about climbing before coming here," remarked Henry Todd, our expedition leader on Everest in 1996. A tad smug, he was right. And climbing wasn't the start of it.

We read everything we could find about polar travel before our back-to-back SP/NP expeditions. About big ocean sailing before crossing from Europe to South America. About jungle walks when roaming central Borneo. About the wild west, the native Indians, the founding fathers and other immigrants before moving to US. Business or pleasure, we always read heaps alongside doing, and it was uncommon.

It was our nature. Another reason was a feared Martial Arts Sensei from Okinawa.

"Use your heads, not just your bodies!" he would screech before lunging at us from some unexpected corner of the dojo.

Long story short, right now we are reading up on rocket engines. Starting from scratch.

Building a 2-person vehicle for Mars ascent/descent is not much different from building the early spaceships hurling first humans to Earth orbit. Little more than high powered canon balls, the "ships" were shaped like capsules spitting fire out of their butts.

In some ways our task is easier. Less gravity on Mars means less problems to solve.

Building our engines we started research with the earliest missions - the Vostok, Mercury and Gemini programs. Those engines were knockoffs from the V2 rockets, so sadly we have Hitler to thank for our first giant leaps.

Subsequent spaceships, such as the  shuttle, became larger and more sophisticated but the basics remain the same. In fact, the bigger enterprises took larger loads but didn't fly much higher than the early pioneers.

Thanks to faster production times, lately rocket engineering is reversing again, from big engines to clusters of small, preferably 3D printed motors.

That is what we are aiming for.

If they could do it 50 years ago, so can we today. And better.

Climbing anecdote: Protective of his zen time, our Sweden based Japanese sensei lived simply in a cabin by the sea, backed by tall cliffs. One day, looking for routes in the area, we found an odd note in our climbing guide. It read, "Several lines but climbing not recommended."  A short story followed.

Turned out the wall in mention towered right above our sensei's property. Noisy rock climbers would disturb his peace, preferably on weekends. So sensei painted a big "no climbing" sign on a chunk of flat granite laying below. Regardless, one bright and sunny Saturday two climbers rappelled down into his garden.

As always our sensei started out friendly. A deceiving namaste grin on his face, he came out of his house and told the climbers about his lack of peace. Seeing only a short, stocky old man, the heroes were unsympathetic. 30 minutes later, police arrived to pick them up.

The story said the two rock climbers were found sitting back to back on our sensei's boat dock, tied up in their climbing rope.

Tina Sjogren
Tina Sjogren
CEO & Founder
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