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Can a space shuttle withstand a perpendicular launch from Mars?

High School
Graduation Year
Student review
All aspects had met my expectations. The amount of experience and knowledge I've gained has certainly exceeded my expectations.

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Project description

In the near future, humans will go to Mars. During these interplanetary journeys, astronaut safety will be paramount. Our objective was to determine whether the astronauts will be able to launch safely from Mars in a space shuttle taking off perpendicularly. This study used high school kinematics along with equations for the atmospheric density and total force applied on the spacecraft, evaluating these values for each atmospheric layer. The software Onshape was used to find the cross-sectional front-view area of the spacecraft. Approximations were made for the spacecraft’s dimensions and the drag coefficient where verifiable data was unavailable. The total force was found to be significantly lower than 3Gs which ensures a safe take-off for the astronauts and saves money in manufacturing costs for assembling new rockets.

Can a space shuttle withstand a perpendicular launch from Mars?
Project outcome

We showed that the space shuttle can easily resist the total force acting against it throughout the entire atmosphere. This was found out by comparing the final force of each layer to 3Gs of force that it is meant to withstand. The parameters accounted for after every stage were the final mass, final velocity, gravitational acceleration, temperature and distance covered which changed after every atmospheric layer. The total force lower by was 81% in the Troposphere, 78% in the Mesosphere, 69% in the Thermosphere and 68% in the Exosphere. From this observation, a lot of fuel can be saved since the spacecraft exits the atmosphere within stage 1 with ease. In fact, the size of the two tanks can also be decreased as it won’t need much fuel. The conclusions derived may have the potential to save a lot of money when it comes to manufacturing and production of these rockets. My project was showcased in the 2022 Polygence Symposium.

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Environmental, Solar, Astrophysics
Astrophysics, solar cells, semiconductor devices, optoelectrical devices
Mentor review

My mentor was extremely helpful in guiding me through the process of research. She had guided me through every step of the research project. She answered the questions I didn't have the answer to and even the questions I didn't know to ask. Without her help and active contribution, I could not have done this research project. Sara's guidance helped me reach out to other professionals in the field and collect data specific to my research. Her guidance helped me write my research using the right softwares, tools, methods, etc.