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mw-class electric propulsion system designs for mars cargo transportMulti-kilowatt electric propulsion systems are well developed and have been used on commercial and military satellites in Earth orbit for several years. Ion and Hall thrusters have also propelled robotic spacecraft to encounters with asteroids, the Moon, and minor planetary bodies within the solar system. High power electric propulsion systems are currently being considered to support piloted missions to near earth asteroids, as cargo transport for sustained lunar or Mars exploration, and for very high-power piloted missions to Mars and the outer planets. Using NASA Mars Design Architecture 5.0 as a reference, a preliminary parametric analysis was performed to determine the suitability of a nuclear powered, MW-class electric propulsion system for Mars cargo transport. For this initial analysis, high power 100-kW Hall thrusters and 250-kW VASIMR engines were separately evaluated to determine optimum vehicle architecture and estimated performance. The DRA 5.0 cargo mission closed for both propulsion options, delivering a 100 t payload to Mars orbit and reducing the number of heavy lift launch vehicles from five in the baseline DRA 5.0 architecture to two using electric propulsion. Under an imposed single engine-out mission success criteria, the VASIMR system took longer to reach Mars than did the Hall system, arising from the need to operate the VASIMR thrusters in pairs during the spiral out from low Earth orbit.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Gilland, James H.
(Ohio Aerospace Inst. Cleveland, OH, United States)
LaPointe, Michael R.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Oleson, Steven
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Mercer, Carolyn
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Pencil, Eric
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Maosn, Lee
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
September 27, 2011
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
AIAA SPACE 2011 Conference and Exposition(Long Beach, CA)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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