Thursday, 27 November 2008

Mission to mars : How to Get People There and Back with Nuclear Energy

Mission to Mars: How to Get People There and Back with Nuclear Energy
V. Dostal, K. Gezelius, J. Horng, J. Koser, J. Palaia IV, 
E. Shwageraus, P. Yarsky, and A.C. Kadak

Add and Edited By:

Arip Nurahman

Department of Physics, Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics
Indonesian University of Education


Follower Open Course Ware at MIT-Harvard University, Cambridge. USA.


The goal of the design project was to develop supporting nuclear technologies for a near-term manned mission to Mars. Through the application of different nuclear technologies in a series of precursory missions, the reactor and propulsion technologies necessary for a manned mission to Mars are demonstrated before humans are committedto the trip.

As part of the project, the NASA design reference mission was adapted to make use of highly efficient, low mass, nuclear power systems and electric propulsion systems. A scalable space fission reactor and power conversion unit was developed for near-term deployment. A long-life, slow response surface fission reactor was also developed for use with in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) plants on the Martian surface.

The space power system is capable of producing up to 4 MW of DC electric power for a full- powcr lifetime of 570 days. For a VASIMR engine, 570 full power days (FPD) is equivalent to 3 round trips between Earth and Mars. The molten salt cooled fast reactor (MSFR) core is very compact, and the working fluid reaches very high temperature.

The surface powcr system produces an average of 200 kWe for more than 25 effective full powcr years (EFPY). This targeted full powcr lifetime was chosen to reduce the cost of future Mars missions by allowing for long-term infrastructure to be deployed on the surface. The surfacc system is a CO2 cooled epithermalconversion reactor (CECR) that is designedfor simple control mechanisms, long full powcr life, and ease of remote operation.