The Courage program's historic launch of the Blue Eagle rocket with 16 astronauts aboard in the first manned-interplanetary mission to Eirus, June 5th, 2021
The Courage program is a internationally-funded human spaceflight program that has the goal of "landing man on Eirus", specifically at the south pole region by 2023. The program is carried out predominantly by the ZSA, Zamastanian commercial spaceflight companies contracted by ZSA, and international partners including the ASP (Avergnon), CSRDA (Cadair), RCI (Ruskayn), CTA (Durnstaal), VCA (Vulkaria), YSEI (Yuan), DLR (Drambenburg), and BESA (Beleroskov). ZSA is leading the program, but expects international partnerships to play a key role in advancing Courage as the next step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Eirus, laying the foundation for private companies to build a planetary economy, and eventually sending humans to other possibly habitable planetary bodies.
Since the early 2000s, ZSA had worked on numerous projects designed to test human limitations on the surface of other planets for possible habitation and colonization. The concept operates through three distinct phases leading up to fully sustained colonization. Zamastan and other nations have several robotic missions currently exploring Eirus, with a sample-return planned for the future. The Albatross Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is intended to serve as the launch/splashdown crew delivery vehicle, with a Deep Space Habitat module providing additional living-space for the 7-month-long journey.
The first stage, already underway, is the "Iearth Reliant" phase. This phase continues using the Coalition Space Station until 2026; validating deep space technologies and studying the effects of long-duration space missions on the human body. The second stage, "Proving Ground," moves away from Iearth reliance and ventures into cislunar space for most of its tasks. The stage would test deep-space habitation facilities, and validate capabilities required for human exploration of Eirus. Finally, phase three is the transition to independence from Iearth resources. The "Iearth Independent" phase includes long term missions with surface habitats that only require routine maintenance, and the harvesting of Eirusian resources for fuel, water, and building materials.
On December 27th, 2020, ZSA Director Thibault Berger and Secretary of Space Science, Development, and Exploration Piyush Goyal announced that the Zamastanian Space Agency would be leading an internationally organized manned-mission to Eirus, the fourth planet in the Estrella System, in the goal of setting up a long term habitation and colonization program on its surface. The mission, named the Courage program, and with the first launch consistent of 16 astronauts (6 Zamastanian, the remaining 10 from Durnstaal, Vitosium, Caspiaa, Yuan, and Avergnon), launched on June 5th, 2021, and will arrive at Eirus in January 2022. The second flight launched on February 8th, 2022.
- 1 History
- 2 Supporting Programs
- 3 Launch Vehicles
- 4 Spacecraft
- 5 Landers
- 6 Astronauts
The original ZSA OTP (Orbital Transport Program) contract called for the first demonstration flight of Blue Eagle in September 2010, and the completion of all three demonstration missions by September 2011. In February 2010, the plan for the first Blue Eagle OTP Demo flight was delayed by six months into the first quarter of 2011. According to Thibault Berger, the complexity of the development work and the regulatory requirements for launching from Tregueux International Space Center contributed to the delay. The first multi-engine test (with two engines connected to the first stage, firing simultaneously) was completed in January 2010, with successive tests leading to the full Blue Eagle complement of nine engines test-fired for a full mission length (178 seconds) of the first stage in November 2010. In October 2011, the first flight-ready first stage had a successful all-engine test fire at the ZSA's test stand in Alenchon. In November 2011, ZSA conducted the initial second stage test firing lasting forty seconds. This test succeeded without aborts or recycles. In January 2012, a full-duration (329 seconds) orbit-insertion firing of the Blue Eagle second stage was conducted at the Alenchon test site. The full stack arrived at the launch site for integration at the beginning of February 2012, and ZSA initially scheduled launch date of March 2012. However, they estimated anywhere between one and three months for integration and testing.
In February 2012, ZSA's first flight stack was set vertical at Tregueux International Space Center and on 9 July 2012, ZSA performed a static fire test, where the first stage was to be fired without taking off. Some fire and smoke were seen at the base of the rocket, leading to speculation of an engine fire. However, the fire and smoke were the results of normal burnoff from the liquid oxygen and fuel mix present in the system prior to launch, and no damage was sustained by the vehicle or the test pad. All vehicle systems leading up to the abort performed as expected, and no additional issues were noted that needed addressing. A subsequent test on 13 July 2012 was successful in firing the nine first-stage engines for 3.5 seconds.
The Blue Eagle rocket, used extensively across multiple agencies from 2012's successful testing and until the 2021 June liftoff for Courage, flew 126 times over 9 years, resulting in 124 full mission successes (98.41%), one partial success (delivered its cargo to the Coalition Space Station (CSS), but a secondary payload was stranded in a lower-than-planned orbit), and one failure (an unmanned Blue Eagle spacecraft was lost in flight). Additionally, one rocket and its payload were destroyed before launch in preparation for an on-pad static fire test. Of these flights, 50 were manned flights and all were successful.
- Loss before launch
- Loss during flight
- Partial failure
- Success (commercial and government)
- Success (CSS)
- Planned (commercial and government)
- Planned (CSS)
Eirus requires less energy per unit mass (delta V) to reach from Iearth than any planet except the gas giant Anvotania. Using an eliptical orbit, a trip to Eirus requires approximately seven months in space. Modified transfer trajectories that cut the travel time down to four to five months in space are possible with incrementally higher amounts of energy and fuel compared to a transfer eliptical orbit, and are in standard use for robotic Eirus missions. Courage 1-5 all schedule under the realm of the seven month time frame for travel. Shortening the travel time below about six months requires higher delta-v and an increasing amount of fuel, and is difficult with chemical rockets. During the journey the astronauts would be subject to radiation, which requires a means to protect them. Cosmic radiation and solar wind cause DNA damage, which increases the risk of cancer significantly.
The Courage Spacecraft is composed of two primary habitable zones. Albatross Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is intended to serve as the launch/splashdown crew delivery vehicle, with a Deep Space Habitat module providing additional living-space for the 7-month-long journey.
On June 5th, 2021, the Blue Eagle rocket launched from Tregueux International Space Center with 16 astronauts from six nations aboard for the first manned-interplanetary mission, traveling to Eirus in order to establish a colony. It touched down on January 14th, 2022. The flight is non-returnable, meaning the astronauts will be permanently remaining on Eirus establishing and monitoring the colony. The first steps of the mission upon arrival is to establish the colony site, known as Site A, specifically to construct the basic utilities (oxygen, power, local communications, waste disposal, sanitation and water recycling), habitats, storage facilities, shop workspaces, the airlock, for pressurization and dust management, resource extraction equipment—initially for water and oxygen, later for a wider cross section of minerals. The mission will also bring building materials and equipment for energy production and energy storage, mostly in the form of solar farms. Components of a Eirus crewed-rover will also be brought to the site on the first mission, made with a joint Quetanan and Beatavic design.
The Courage 1 mission touched down on January 14th, 2022, with mission commander Damian Hawkins of Zamastan becoming the first man to step foot on Eirus. The astronauts established Site A within a depression in the Eirusian surface formed by an ancient caldera, later named "Hawkins Valley" in honor of Commander Hawkins' first steps. A habitat was set up in accordance with blueprints which featured the re-use of landing vehicles, in-situ soil use for enhanced radiation shielding, and green houses. Pre-dug sites on the ridges of the caldera's base from previous rover missions allowed the astronauts to have both man-made canopy protection and access, while having a habitable space under the surface of the Eirusian surface.
Courage 2, the second manned flight in the courage program, was slated to launch on February 3rd, 2022 but was postponed due to aggressive weather with Hurricane Betra. It launched on February 8th following the delay, and is set to touchdown on September 18th, 2022. Upon arrival to Eirus but prior to touchdown, this crew will dispatch multiple orbital satellites to further integrate communications and efficiency with equipment on Eirus and Iearth respectively. The mission will also bring equipment for food production spaces and propellant production equipment in hydrogen and methane through the Sabatier reaction for fuel—with oxygen oxidizer—for chemical rocket engines. The last components of the rover will be delivered upon this arrival as well.
Courage 3, the third manned flight in the courage program, is slated to launch on June 11th, 2022 and arrive on January 12th, 2023. Fuels or other energy source for use with surface transportation will be transported alongside this mission, with carbon monoxide/oxygen (CO/O2) engines suggested for early surface transportation use as both carbon monoxide and oxygen can be straightforwardly produced by zirconium dioxide electrolysis from the Eirus atmosphere without requiring use of any of the water resources to obtain hydrogen. The first components of a nuclear-energy production reactor will also be delivered in this stage, to be completed upon the arrival of Courage 5 in 2024.
The Blue Eagle rocket transports the astronauts from the International Space Center at Tregueux to the Courage Spacecraft. The Courage Spacecraft was constructed in modules, launched and fitted together in low-orbit. The process took more than 10 years alongside the construction of the Coalition Space Station, but as each module was fitted it became regular and more adapted to routine as a new vessel could be assembled with modules entirely within seven months. As of September 2021, only the Courage 1 spacecraft has been completed, although both the Courage 2 and 3 spacecrafts are nearing completion. The spacecraft is composed of two primary habitable zones. Albatross Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is intended to serve as the launch/splashdown crew delivery vehicle, with a Deep Space Habitat module providing additional living-space for the 7-month-long journey.
Electrical power on Courage is provided by its onboard nuclear reactor as well as its solar panels. While aboard, Courage's rotating gravity segment generates a degree of artificial gravity to allow the astronauts ease of mobility and to maintain sufficient muscle tone in space, protecting them from the effects of long-term weightlessness. Courage is also equipped with photon radiation shielding to insulate the spacecraft from solar and cosmic radiation (which can cause cell damage and cancer) as well as an array of advanced life support systems such as its oxygenator and water reclamation processors which allow it to sustain human life for extended durations. Essentially, the spacecraft is an expanded version of the Coalition Space Station, having taken all equipment reference from the CSS and replicated it for the Courage. It is one of the most expensive objects that the world has ever constructed.
The astronauts on mission are as follows:
- Commander Damian Hawkins (Zamastan)
- Pilot Oksana Seitz (Durnstaal)
- Pilot Huang Cheng (Yuan)
- Payload commander Trevor Sykes (Zamastan)
- Payload specialist Walter Cochran (Zamastan)
- Flight surgeon Gauti Anorsson (Caspiaa)
- Chemical specialist Kayla Marshall (Zamastan)
- Reactor specialist Jayden Richards (Zamastan)
- Flight engineer Karsten Boyko (Durnstaal)
- Flight engineer Armando Nariatra (Vitosium)
- Educator mission specialist Sintia Lavaliotti (Vitosium)
- Mission specialist Jessica Meir (Avergnon)
- Mission specialist Ma Jing (Yuan)
- Mission specialist Zachary Davies (Zamastan)
- Mission specialist Zi Ruogang (Yuan)
- Mission specialist Eugeni Ruslanovich (Beleroskov)
The astronauts on mission are as follows:
- Commander Albert Riley (Zamastan)
- Pilot Xia Fang (Yuan)
- Pilot Wilhelm Reger (Drambenburg)
- Payload commander Danilo Aguiar (Quetana)
- Payload specialist Alaya Dawson (Zamastan)
- Flight surgeon Bia Abril (Quetana)
- Chemical specialist Lennon Palmer (Elbresia)
- Reactor specialist Elliott Watson (Constantio)
- EVA specialist Halle Fisher (Beatavic)
- Flight engineer Aiman Ameen (Emmiria)
- Flight engineer Jonathan Shaw (Timeria)
- Educator mission specialist Rosie Harper (Utobania)
- Mission specialist Willem Pattoveo (Albarine)
- Mission specialist Vincent Butz (Besmenia)
- Mission specialist Viktor Nikitin (Kossmil)
- Mission specialist Arseni Volyn (Durnstaal)
The astronauts on mission are as follows:
- Commander Elizabeth Clements (Zamastan)
- Pilot Casper Fuglsang (Caspiaa)
- Pilot Johannes Lauritsen (Jyau)
- Payload commander (Ruskayn)
- Payload specialist Edward Hall (Zamastan)
- Flight surgeon Akil Cubukcu (Durnstaal)
- Chemical specialist Tunay Karan (Durnstaal)
- Reactor specialist Viktor Ilyich (Slavic Union)
- EVA specialist Hudhaifa Humaidaan (Siniapore)
- Flight engineer Davi Nogueira (Quetana)
- Flight engineer Xun Ah (Yuan)
- Educator mission specialist Cha’relle Ford (Alecburgh)
- Mission specialist James Devoir (Freedonia)
- Mission specialist ()
- Mission specialist ()
- Mission specialist ()
The standard spacesuits provided to the Courage astronauts are known as a "HevlasSuit" suit. The HevlasSuit is a skintight suit, also known as mechanical counterpressure suit or space activity suit, is a design which uses a heavy elastic body stocking to compress the body. The head is in a pressurized helmet, but the rest of the body is pressurized only by the elastic effect of the suit. This mitigates the constant volume problem, reduces the possibility of a space suit depressurization and gives a very lightweight suit. When not worn, the elastic garments may appear to be that of clothing for a small child. The suit uses the body's natural perspiration to keep cool. Sweat evaporates readily in vacuum and may desublime or deposit on objects nearby: optics, sensors, the astronaut's visor, and other surfaces. However, too much icy film and sweat residue may contaminate sensitive surfaces and affect optical performance.