New Mars-Earth transfer orbit makes Hermes mission moot

‘The Martian’ Misses Out on a Faster Way to Mars (Op-Ed)

If only “The Martian” knew: There’s a faster way to get a supply ship to Mars.


Science progresses, making the novel The Martian more and more out of date. Some light spoilers ahead.

First we find that free water does exist on Mars, greatly simplifying Mark Watney’s plight.

Now we see that a new transfer orbit discussed in 2014 would have gotten a supply rocket to Mars in plenty of time, without the need to ignore inspections, etc.  This would have given NASA 120 days to get the supply ship ready rather than 30.

It would also have gotten there 81 days before the Hemes arrived, making it unnecessary for Hermes to return at all. And it could have landed near Mark,, again reducing much of the drama.

Not as dramatic as the movie. Rich Purnell was not quite the genius we thought he was.

But, I would expect that many of these things will pop up because people enjoyed the book so much and want to puzzle out if there were other ways to accomplish the solutions.

This is one of the points of the book – diverse minds working together can find wise solutions to almost any problem facing us.

Image: European Southern Observatory