The Mars Mission 2016 is near its launch dates. The Earth Space Ship (ESS) Carl Sagan is assembled and final testing is in process. In a few days the crew will begin final outfitting and prepping of both the ESS Carl Sagan and of the Crew Shuttle known as the ESS Queen Elizabeth II.
Almost all the crew is now in orbit. Final work on the Carl Sagan will be wrapped up by 15 February 2016, leaving only a small team who are not part of the Mars mission on the ship to finish up prep for its unmanned launch on 11 March 2016.
The mission crew will spend the last few days before their 24 February launch training and prepping the Queen Elizabeth II. Most of the mission crew have now been in orbit for at least two months and will spend another seven weeks on either the Sagan, the Queen Elizabeth, or on the Tyson Space Dock.
After both ships launch they will rendezvous and the crew on the Queen Elizabeth II will dock with the Sagan. The Sagan will be using nuclear propulsion to obtain its orbital transfer acceleration to Mars and by remaining unoccupied during the acceleration phase means that the ship can experience g-forces that would endanger the human body.
The crewed Queen Elizabeth will use traditional explosive propulsion and chemical reaction propulsion to accelerate at a reduced rate over a longer period of time. They will have a final thrust in the final day before rendezvous to match speed with the faster moving Sagan.
Once the Sagan reaches Mars orbit most of the ship will remain as a permanent space port. From that platform crews will begin building a habitable environment on the surface of Mars, maintain an ongoing observation and research facility, and support future missions.
The initial mission crew will split into groups, each with a separate focus. One team will be engaged in the surface activities, one team will occupy and maintain the space port, and one team will oversee orbital activities.
A second Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) and Crew Shuttle (CS) are already in the construction phase and will be ready for launch as early as August 2016, but will likely not launch until December. The new ships have a flexible mission and crew that will be finalized as the Mars Mission 2016 is unfolding.
In addition, smaller supply modules are already in orbit in the event of early resupply or mission crisis.