The icy moons of Saturn and Jupiter are believed to have oceans of liquid water and are thus prime candidates for extra-terrestrial life. This proposal is for an interplanetary vehicle to house a crew of six on a long duration exploration of icy moons in the Jovian and Saturnian systems. The vehicle is a low mass hybrid of rigid and inflatable structural elements. During interplanetary travel the vehicle is in a compact state allowing for induced gravity from rotation. Inhabited pods would spin about a central axis generating 1 G of centrifugal gravity. The concept consists of three pressure vessels surrounded by transparent and translucent water ice for radiation shielding and views out. When the vehicle reaches a target moon it would stop spinning and park in an L1 spot (stable Lagrange Point).
The habitat and surface modules would be lowered on a tether from the supporting counterweight at L1. The tethered expansion of the units allows for slow and steady analysis of atmospheric conditions on the way down to the surface. At its extreme limit the explorer module is able to touch down on the surface and take samples or harvest water ice.
The system can run indefinitely since it can recharge its supply of propellant by electrolyzing water. The unlimited supply of fuel allows for more flexibility in mission planning and adjustments based on findings by the human crew.
Location: Jovian System
Completion: March 2017
Principals: Ostap Rudakevych, Masayuki Sono