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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Sol 16 (1.1.16)  9:24 PM NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  19 January 2016  2:00 PM PST

Both the ESS QE II and the ESS Sagan are have blast propulsion, known as Impulse Cycle Propulsion (ICP). This consists of a series of explosions behind the ship that push it forward.

Mars Pulse Engine Drive

Artist rendition of a Blast Propulsion Drive

Each bomb, or pellet is pushed out of the engine section of the ship and is attached be a wire or tether. When the pellet reaches the correct distance the tether pulls taught and signals the ship. At that millisecond the computer on the ship sends the detonation code to the pellet and it explodes. The strength of the explosive force on the ship is determined by the pellet type and size, and the length of the tether. Acceleration of the ship is determined by explosive force and the frequency of pellet deployment.

The engine section consists of a blast plate and blast umbrella that absorbs most of the blast. The blast plate and umbrella is connected to the ship by sixteen resistance rods, or shock absorbers, that both cushion the shock of the pellet detonation and generate power using electrostatic generators on each rod that produce electricity from friction.

The blast umbrella plates also have electrostatic generator shock absorbers rods that also generate electricity for the ship as well as absorb more of the pellet blast to propel the ship.

The ship also has the more traditional chemical-based engines to correct and alter course. Each Quill section has it’s own engine and it is tied into the Command section. The engines on the Quill sections are primarily for landing on Mars. 

Acceleration of the ESS QE II is designed for 9.81 meters per second per second, which is equal to 1 g (the same gravity force of Earth at sea level.) It can accelerate up to 2 g; however, the needed speed to accelerate to 150,000 km/hr (41.67 km/s) only requires 4.25 seconds of acceleration at 1 g, so 2 g acceleration is not needed. In fact, the QE II will accelerate to 45,000 km/hr on the first day, then evaluate the ship’s performance. It will then accelerate to 100,000 km/hr on the third day, and then match speed with the ESS Sagan on the six day.  

The ESS Sagan will leave orbit two and a half days after the QE II departs, but will accelerate to 150,000 km/hr over a 12 hour period. It will overtake the QE II. The QE II will disassemble and recombine with the Sagan creating one larger ship. The combined ships will continue their 110 day trip to Mars. Other than course corrections, the ships will not use the ICP engine again until it is time to decelerate for Mars orbit.