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Nuclear Electric PropulsionWe investigate the feasibility of using nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) for slow "freighter" ships traveling from a 500 km low Earth orbit {LEO) to the Moon's orbit about the Earth, and on to Mars. NEP is also shown to be feasible for transporting people to Mars on long conjunction-class missions lasting about nine months one way, and on short "sprint" missions lasting four months one way. Generally, we have not attempted to optimize ion exhaust velocities, but rather we have chosen suitable parameters to demonstrate NEP feasibility. Various combinations of missions are compared with chemical and nuclear thermal propulsion (NTR) systems. Typically, NEP and NTR can accomplish the same lifting task with similar mass in LEO. When compared to chemical propulsion, NEP was found to accomplish the same missions with 40% less mass in LEO. These findings are sufficiently encouraging as to merit further studies with optimum systems.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Paul W Keaton
(Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, New Mexico, United States)
David J Tubb
(Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, New Mexico, United States)
Date Acquired
September 5, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1986
Publication Information
Publication: Manned Mars Missions Working Group Papers: Volume 1, Section 1-4
Publisher: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: Manned Mars Missions Workshop
Location: Huntsville, AL
Country: US
Start Date: June 10, 1985
End Date: June 14, 1985
Sponsors: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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