The Gaetano A. Crocco's grand tour goes on

by Luisa Spairani




The Crocco's contribute is still alive


More details on Mars visionar projects




The TDF staff has received the signalling of an interesting contribution of Gen. Gaetano Arturo Crocco to the conference of the Italian Rockets Association during the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Congress - Rome - September 1956 . Among Crocco's fans, his proposal is referred as "The grand Tour". This signalling has offered the occasion for some considerations:


how much is important to maintain the historical trace of contributions of such important persons in the world of science and the technique but there are not popular persons because: " The history we are ", right in order to cite de Gregori's song (an italian meaningful singer)


to compare the Crocco's proposal with the current projects


to discover in which other contexts Crocco is quoted

The grand tour

Leaving from the bottom and searching in Internet in not institutional contexts a reference to Crocco can be found from te side of "ufo scientists".
It seems that Marconi studied the radar in order to intercept the intruders from the space! It seems also that in the study group (Gabinetto R/33) set in fascist age had a fundamental role the engineer Gaetano Arthur Crocco, the first one in Italy to study, since from 1906, the autorotation - by means of propellers - of the aircrafts. Who best of him could understand the project of a flying disc?

The aeronautical journalist Cesare Falessi, his great friend, confirmed the Crocco's unexpected fixation for the travels in the space. Such affirmation is documented also from the researcher Franco Fiorio: "The great Italian scientist and astronautical pioneer Crocco have demonstrated since 1950 like, by means of a more efficient exploitation of the fusion nuclear energy, the nearly-light speed attainment is possible and as that concurs to cross, within the limits of time of the human life, the borders of our system solar until 

distances equivalents to 34 light years, containing approximately 480 fixed stars of the class of our sun, everyone represents independently a solar system comprising of characteristics of variede planets ".
Perhaps the fil rouge has been found explaining the origin of the interest of Crocco for the search in the space. So what Crocco has proposed at the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Congress - 1956? (and in Internet there are various forums in which many people ask to retrieve an electronic version of the congress acts).

In that paper, given during the congress, Crocco notes that a minimum-propellent transfer from Earth to Mars orbits requires (accordingto A. Clarke) 259 days, after which the spacecraft still remains at Mars 425 days to allow the planets to permit a 259-day trip back to Earth. This yeald a total voyage duration of nearly three years. Throu series of charts and formulae Crocco demonstates that a spacecraft could, in theory, travel from Earth to Mars, perform a reconnaissance Mars flyby (that is, not stop over in Mars orbit), and return to Earth with a total trip of about one year. The spacecraft would fire its rocket only to leave Earth.The Mars flyby mission requires less than half as much energy- thus prope as the Mars stopver flight. The flyby spacecraft woul have " a telescope of moderate aperture......such as to reveal and distinguish natural accidentalities of the planet from artificial construction" (still the UFO search?). Crocco states that Mars's gravity will deflect the flyby spacecraft's course so that it can retun on the Earth if it remains more that 400 martian radii from the planet surface; in return trip the spacecraft can pass near Venus so that the planet's gravity can bend the spacecraft course toward Earth without reliance of propellent. The Crocco's calcutation is based on pertubations method. He calcultaes the orbit without taking in consideration the planetary pertubations, traking a possible ideal solution. Subsequently he introduces a perturbation due to Mars and the consequent circuit delay. The pertubation due to Venus is examinated. He develops a numerical example without the ambition to solve exactly the problem but only with the aim of giving a new pulse to ths astronautical study. He proposesd a date for a favourable chance of the Earth-Mars-Earth flight in June 1971.
And now where are we?

Now we are to the Cosmic Highways (see "Le scienze - August 2006", see also, on TDF, Interplanetary SuperHighways, Momentum Exchangers and other marvels). New studies, estimating the interactions of bodies of small mass with the Sun, bring  to the new definition of singular orbits at low cost of energy, by a spacecraft that could move without meaningful propellent cost. The development in this field of physics of the multi-bodies interaction will be a precious aid for the space colonisation. Was it perhaps the job of Crocco to inspire the search in this direction?

The last consideration, but maybe the most important, would stress the importance of maintaining not only the memory of an interesting person but overall the acquaintance of the process and the technical procedures used in the past century in an innovative field such as the aereonautics and the space later on.
So what about the cotangential orbit of Clarke from which Crocco left in order to elaborate his proposal?

TDF offers its forum for collecting contributions in order to find documents, sites, books, websites references that concur to understand more about processes and approach of that period.

Without history there is not future and the history of science and of the technique is most fascinating; we must discover it.

Who is Crocco

"One-Year Exploration-Trip Earth - Mars - Venus - Earth", Gaetano A. Crocco, Rendiconti del VII Congresso Internanzionale Astronautico, Associazione Italiana Razzi, 1956, pp. 227-252; paper presented at the Seventh Congress of the International Astronautical Federation in Rome, Italy, September 1-7, 1956.

Italian aviation and rocketry pioneer Gaetano Arturo Crocco was born in Naples on October 26, 1877. His earliest engineering research focused on methods of stabilizing cameras on board naval vessels and airships. This led in 1903 to his first work on aircraft stabilization. News of the Wright Brothers' first heavier-than-air flight in December of that year cemented Crocco's enthusiasm for aircraft. He focused mainly on propellers - his research helped make helicopters possible - but also worked on airships. In 1908, he piloted a semi-rigid airship of his own design over Rome. Crocco began publishing technical papers on rocketry in 1923. In 1929-30, he helped to develop and test the first Italian liquid-propellant rocket motor. Inspired by the German V-2/A-4 missile, he founded the Italian Rocket Society in 1951. 

Five years later, the Society hosted the 7th International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Congress, where Crocco presented this seminal (but often overlooked) paper. He writes that a minimum-energy transfer from Earth to Mars would, on average, require 259 days, after which the spacecraft would need to remain at Mars for 425 days to allow Mars and Earth to align for a 259-day return trip. This would yield a total voyage duration of almost three years. Crocco offers a less challenging alternative: he shows that a spacecraft could in theory travel from Earth to Mars, perform a reconnaissance flyby (that is, not stop at Mars), and return to Earth with a total trip time of about one year. 

The Mars flyby spacecraft would fire its rocket only to leave Earth - it would coast on its orbit around the Sun for the remainder of its flight. Crocco calculates that it would require less than half as much energy - thus propellant - as a spacecraft that fired rockets to enter and depart Mars orbit. He proposes that the flyby spacecraft crew have at its disposal "a telescope of... a magnifying power... such as to reveal and distinguish natural accidentalities of the planet from artificial construction...". 

Crocco notes that Mars's gravity would deflect the flyby spacecraft's course so that it would miss Earth on the return leg unless it remained more than 400 Mars radii (about 800,000 miles) from the planet's surface. Passing so far from Mars would, of course, "frustrate the exploration scope of the trip." He proposes routing the flyby spacecraft past Venus on the return leg so that the planet's gravity could bend its course back toward Earth. Flying past cloudy Venus would be an exploration bonus, Crocco writes, because it might allow the crew to solve "the riddle which is concealed by her thick atmosphere." 

He describes an Earth-Mars-Venus-Earth voyage that would need 113 days for the Earth-Mars leg, 154 days for the Mars-Venus leg, and 98 days for the Venus-Earth leg, for a total duration of 365 days. An opportunity to begin such a voyage would occur in June 1971, Crocco writes.

More details on Mars visionary projects


"A Rocket around the Moon," Krafft A. Ehricke and George Gamow, Scientific American, Vol. 196, No. 6, June 1957.


"Mars - A World for Exploration," Clyde W. Tombaugh, Astronautics, January 1959, pp. 30-31, 86-93.


"Surface Exploration of the Moon," Peter A. E. Stewart, Spaceflight, Vol. 3, No. 2, February 1961, pp. 34-48; paper presented September 17, 1960, at the British Interplanetary Society in London, England.

4. Engineer Special Study of the Surface of the Moon, Miscellaneous Geologic Investigations Map I-351, Robert J. Hackman and Arnold C. Mason, U.S. Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey (USGS), 1961.
5. A Lunar Landing Proposal Using Rendezvous, John Houbolt; handout for briefing to the Space Task Group, Langley Field, Virginia, August 30, 1961.
6. "Concept for a Manned Mars Expedition with Electrically Propelled Vehicles," Ernst Stuhlinger and Joseph C. King, Progress in Astronautics, Vol. 9, pp. 647-664, 1963; paper presented at the American Rocket Society Electric Propulsion Conference in Berkeley, California, March 14-16, 1962.
7. Memorandum from D. B. James and H. J. Schulte, Bellcomm, to W. A. Lee, NASA-MES, "Radiation Environment of EOR and LOR," October 5, 1962.
8. Direct Flight Apollo Study, Report No. 9182, Vol. 1, Two Man Apollo Spacecraft; Vol. 2, Gemini Spacecraft Applications; Vol. 3, Rescue Versions; McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, October 31, 1962.
9. Report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Apollo Experiments and Training on the Scientific Aspects of the Apollo Program, December 15, 1963.
10. "Summary Presentation: Study of a Manned Mars Excursion Module," Franklin P. Dixon, Proceeding of the Symposium on Manned Planetary Missions: 1963/1964 Status, NASA TM X-53049, June 12, 1964, pp. 443-523; paper presented at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama.
11. A Suggestion for Extension of the NASA Ranger Project In Support of Manned Space Flight, Memorandum RM-4353-NASA, R. C. Moore, The RAND Corporation, December 1964.
12. "A Manned Flyby Mission to Eros," Eugene A. Smith, Proceedings of the Third Space Congress, pp. 137-155; paper presented at the Canaveral Council of Technical Societies' Third Space Congress, Cocoa Beach, Florida, March 7-10, 1966.
13. "Scheduling Constraints on Manned Exploration of Mars," Robert Riedesel and John Wall, A Volume of Technical Papers Presented at the AIAA/AAS Stepping Stones to Mars Meeting, pp. 99-106; paper presented in Baltimore, Maryland, March 28-30, 1966.
14. "Saturn/Apollo Applications Program Summary Description," memorandum with attachments, MLD/Deputy Director (Steven S. Levenson for John H. Disher), Saturn/Apollo Applications, NASA Headquarters, to George M. Low, Manned Spacecraft Center, Leland F. Belew, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Robert C. Hock, John F. Kennedy Space Center, June 13, 1966.
15. Planetary Exploration Utilizing a Manned Flight System, NASA Office of Manned Space Flight, October 3, 1966.
16. Preliminary Mission Study of a Single-Launch Manned Venus Flyby with Extended Apollo Hardware, MSC Internal Note No. 67-FM-25, Jack Funk and James J. Taylor, Advanced Mission Design Branch, Mission Planning and Analysis Division, NASA Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, February 13, 1967.
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18. Geologic Characteristics of the Nine Lunar Landing Mission Sites Recommended by the Group for Lunar Exploration Planning, TR-68-340-1, Farouk El-Baz, Bellcomm, Inc., May 31, 1968.
19. Memorandum with attachment, MAL/Assistant Director for Automated Systems to MAL/Director, Apollo Lunar Exploration Office, "Biasing Apollo Missions to Land Near Surveyor Spacecraft on the Moon," January 10, 1969.
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21. A Minimum-Energy Mission Plan for the Manned Exploration of Mars, NASA TN D-5502, James J. Taylor and Sam W. Wilson, Jr., National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC, November 1969.
22. Memorandum with attachment, FM5/Lunar Mission Analysis Branch to various, "Lunar alternate missions for Apollo 13 (Mission H-2)," Rocky Duncan, February 13, 1970.
23. "Abort from Mars and Venus Missions - Case 103-8," A. A. VanderVeen, Bellcomm, Inc., April 15, 1970.
24. "Post-Apollo Lunar Missions - Input to your May Management Council Presentation," memorandum with attachment, MAL/Director, Apollo Lunar Exploration Office to MT/Director, Advanced Manned Missions Program, April 29, 1970.
25. An Exploratory Investigation of a 1979 Mars Roving Vehicle Mission, JPL 760-58, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, December 1, 1970.
26. Manned Mars Exploration Requirements and Considerations, Morris V. Jenkins, NASA Manned Spacecraft Center, February 1971.
27. "Destination Mankind: Proposal for a Saturn V-Apollo Mission into Geosynchronous Orbit," Krafft A. Ehricke, presentation materials, May 10, 1972.
28. Final Report: A Study of System Requirements for Phobos/Deimos Missions, Vol. I, Summary; Vol. II, Phase I Results - Satellite Rendezvous and Landing Missions; Vol. III, Phase II Results - Satellite Sample Return Missions and Satellite Mobility Concepts; Vol. IV, Phase III Results - Combined Missions to Mars and Its Satellites; Martin Marietta Corporation, Denver Division, June 1972.
29. Pioneer Mars Surface Penetrator Mission: Mission Analysis and Orbiter Design, Hughes Ref. No. D2546, SCG 40274R, Hughes Aircraft Company, Space and Communications Group, August 1974.
30. On the Habitability of Mars: An Approach to Planetary Ecosynthesis, NASA SP-414, edited by M. M. Averner and R. D. MacElroy, "prepared by Ames Research Center," 1976.
31. Mission Summary for Lunar Polar Orbiter, JPL Document 660-41, J. W. Minear, N. Hubbard, T.V. Johnson, and V.C. Clarke, Jr., "with the Lunar Polar Orbiter Science Working Team," September 1976.
32. Feasibility of a Mars Multi-Rover Mission, JPL 760-160, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, February 28, 1977.
33. Final Report of the Ad Hoc Mars Airplane Science Working Group, JPL Publication 78-89, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, November 1, 1978. 35. A Manned Lunar Science Base: An Alternative to Space Station Science? A Brief Comparative Assessment, Report No. SAI-84/1502, Science Applications, Inc., January 10, 1984.
34. "Phobos and Deimos as Resource and Exploration Centers," AAS 84-164, Brian O'Leary, The Case for Mars II, Christopher P. McKay, editor, 1985, pp. 225-244; paper presented at the Case For Mars II conference in Boulder, Colorado, July 10-14, 1984.
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36. Beyond Earth's Boundaries: Human Exploration of the Solar System in the 21st Century, "1988 Annual Report to the Administrator," NASA Office of Exploration, November 1988.
37. A Robotic Exploration Program: In Response to the NASA 90-Day Study on Human Exploration of the Moon and Mars, JPL D-6688, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, December 1, 1989.
38. "Candidate Sites for Lunar Basin," Paul D. Lowman, Jr., Astrophysics from the Moon, AIP Conference Proceeding 207, Michael Mumma and Harlan Smith, editors, 1990, pp. 316-327; paper presented at the Workshop on Astrophysics from the Moon, held in Annapolis, Maryland, February 5-7, 1990.
39. Mars Landing Site Catalog, NASA Reference Publication 1238, Ronald Greeley, editor, NASA, August 1990.
40. MESUR: Mars Environmental Survey, NASA Ames Research Center, July 19, 1991.
41. First Lunar Outpost (FLO) Conceptual Flight Profile, JSC-25880, Systems Engineering Division, Engineering Directorate, NASA Johnson Space Center, June 1992.
42. "Paraterraforming: The Worldhouse Concept," Richard L. S. Taylor, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 45, August 1992, pp. 341-352.
43. "The Nomad Explorer Assembly Assist Vehicle: An Architecture for Rapid Global Lunar Infrastructure Establishment," IAF-92-0743, Madhu Thangavelu; paper presented at the 43rd Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, August 28-September 5, 1992, Washington, D.C.
44. The Mars Polar Pathfinder, Discovery Program Workshop Concept #83, David A. Paige, University of California-Los Angeles/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, September 1992.
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46. "Using the Space Shuttle Columbia to Begin Bringing the Moon to America," Carey M. McCleskey; paper presented at the 33rd Space Congress in Cocoa Beach, Florida, April 23-26, 1996.
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49. Human Health & Performance Aspects of the Mars Design Reference Mission, John B. Charles, presentation materials, 2001
50. "A Gateway for Human Exploration of Space? The Weak Stability Boundary," Wendell W. Mendell, Space Policy, Vol. 17, January 2001, pp. 13-17.
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