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Advanced solar-propelled cargo spacecraft for Mars missionsAt the University of Washington, three concepts for an unmanned, solar powered, cargo spacecraft for Mars-support missions have been investigated. These spacecraft are designed to carry a 50,000 kg payload from a low Earth orbit to a low Mars orbit. Each design uses a distinctly different propulsion system: a solar radiation absorption (SRA) system, a solar-pumped laser (SPL) system, and a solar powered mangetoplasmadynamic (MPD) arc system. The SRA directly converts solar energy to thermal energy in the propellant through a novel process developed at the University of Washington. A solar concentrator focuses sunlight into an absorption chamber. A mixture of hydrogen and potassium vapor absorbs the incident radiation and is heated to approximately 3700 K. The hot propellant gas exhausts through a nozzle to produce thrust. The SRA has an I(sub sp) of approximately 1000 sec and produces a thrust of 2940 N using two thrust chambers. In the SPL system, a pair of solar-pumped, multi-megawatt, CO2 lasers in sun-synchronous Earth orbit converts solar energy to laser energy. The laser beams are transmitted to the spacecraft via laser relay satellites. The laser energy heats the hydrogen propellant through a plasma breakdown process in the center of an absorption chamber. Propellant flowing through the chamber, heated by the plasma core, expands through a nozzle to produce thrust. The SPL has an I(sub sp) of 1285 sec and produces a thrust of 1200 N using two thrust chambers. The MPD system uses indium phosphide solar cells to convert sunlight to electricity, which powers the propulsion system. In this system, the argon propellant is ionized and electromagnetically accelerated by a magnetoplasmadynamic arc to produce thrust. The MPD spacecraft has an I(sub sp) of 2490 sec and produces a thrust of 100 N. Various orbital transfer options are examined for these concepts. In the SRA system, the mother ship transfers the payload into a very high Earth orbit and a small auxiliary propulsion system boosts the payload into a Hohmann transfer to Mars. The SPL spacecraft releases the payload as the spacecraft passes by Mars. Both the SRA-powered spacecraft and the SPL-powered spacecraft return to Earth for subsequent missions. The MPD-propelled spacecraft, however, remains at Mars as an orbiting space station. A patched conic approximation was used to determine a heliocentric interplanetary transfer orbit for the MPD propelled spacecraft. All three solar-powered spacecraft use an aerobrake procedure to place the payload into a low Mars parking orbit. The payload delivery times range from 160 days to 873 days (2.39 years).
Document ID
19940004541
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Auziasdeturenne, J.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Beall, M.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Burianek, J.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Cinniger, A.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Dunmire, B.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Haberman, E.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Iwamoto, J.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Johnson, S.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Mccracken, S.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Miller, M.
(Washington Univ. Seattle, WA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1989
Publication Information
Publication: USRA, NASA(USRA University Advanced Design Program Fifth Annual Summer Conference
Subject Category
Space Transportation
Accession Number
94N71296
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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