New Method for Systems and Cost Analysis of Human Mars Entry Vehicles


Cost is one of the biggest obstacles to sending humans to Mars. However, spacecraft costs are typically not estimated until after the preliminary vehicle and mission concepts have been designed. By automating the cost estimation process, the effect of any change in vehicle or mission design on the mission cost can be determined more efficiently. This paper describes an extension to the systems analysis for planetary entry, descent, and landing tool. This extension integrates the cost modeling software SEER-H (which stands for system estimation and evaluation of resources hardware) with a number of systems analysis tools. This new method is used to analyze several tradespaces of a hypersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator entry vehicle for human Mars missions. Key findings include quantifying the impacts of the ballistic coefficient, the main engine specific impulse, and the thrust-to-weight ratio on the overall cost of the vehicle; as well as how the payload per lander and the number of landers affect the cost of a campaign to Mars.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research

Keywords and Phrases

Cost estimating; Hypersonic vehicles; Interplanetary flight; Martian surface analysis; Systems analysis, Aerodynamic decelerators; Ballistic coefficient; Cost estimations; Human mars mission; Mission concepts; Planetary entry; Specific impulse; Thrust-to-weight ratio, Cost benefit analysis

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2019 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2019