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Direct Energy Conversion for Low Specific Mass In-Space Power and Propulsion"Changing the game" in space exploration involves changing the paradigm for the human exploration of the Solar System, e.g, changing the human exploration of Mars from a three-year epic event to an annual expedition. For the purposes of this assessment an "annual expedition" capability is defined as an in-space power & propulsion system which, with launch mass limits as defined in NASA s Mars Architecture 5.0, enables sending a crew to Mars and returning them after a 30-day surface stay within one year, irrespective of planetary alignment. In this work the authors intend to show that obtaining this capability requires the development of an in-space power & propulsion system with an end-to-end specific mass considerably less than 3 kg/kWe. A first order energy balance analysis reveals that the technologies required to create a system with this specific mass include direct energy conversion and nuclear sources that release energy in the form of charged particle beams. This paper lays out this first order approximation and details these conclusions.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Scott, John H. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
George, Jeffrey A. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Tarditi, Alfonso G. (Electric Power Research Inst. Knoxville, TN, United States)
Date Acquired
August 27, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2013
Subject Category
Energy Production and Conversion
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space 2013(Albuquerque, NM)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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