The Martian Chronicles
Issue 4, May 2000

Emissary: A Mars Colony
by Tanya Harrison <>

  Model of colony structure  
Model of colony structure

The Mars Millennium Project is a project being run by NASA for students in grades K-12 to design a colony for 100 people on Mars in the year 2030. The main basis of the project is the community on Mars, but I have shifted that to the scientific aspects of colonizing the Red Planet in my project (which is entitled “Emissary”). For more information on the project itself, visit

Emissary covers not only the colony itself on Mars, but also goes into detail about the ship that will get the crew to Mars. The ship uses state-of- the-art propulsion systems to cut down on transit time. It runs on nuclear fusion engines which use deuterium-helium-3 fusion reactions (which produce the safest by-product, He-4 and protons). There is also a backup ion drive that runs from the exhaust produced by the nuclear fusion engines, and pulsed plasma thrusters for orbit and landing, and precision positioning.

On Mars, along with the colony structure itself, there is a space elevator which takes you up to an orbital supply shuttle docking port. The colony also has twenty land rovers (each with a maximum five person capacity), and two NIMFs, which stands for nuclear engine using indigenous Martian fuel. If you have read either “Entering Space” or “The Case for Mars” by Robert Zubrin, you will be familiar with these. Crew layout, life support systems, procedures in case of emergencies, space law, and the crew’s effort with planetary engineering (terraforming) are also covered in great detail.

If anyone is interested in reading the entire project, you can contact me at the e-mail address above, and once the website for the project is up and running (it should be shortly, perhaps even by the time you read this), I will send the address to the Mars Society Youth Chapter list. Be sure to check it out!