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Propellantless Propulsion Technologies for In-Space TransportationIn order to implement the ambitious science and exploration missions planned over the next several decades, improvements in in-space transportation and propulsion technologies must be achieved. For robotic exploration and science missions, increased efficiencies of future propulsion systems are critical to reduce overall life-cycle costs. Future missions will require 2 to 3 times more total change in velocity over their mission lives than the NASA Solar Electric Technology Application Readiness (NSTAR) demonstration on the Deep Space 1 mission. Rendezvous and return missions will require similar investments in in-space propulsion systems. New opportunities to explore beyond the outer planets and to the stars will require unparalleled technology advancement and innovation. The Advanced Space Transportation Program (ASTP) is investing in technologies to achieve a factor of 10 reduction in the cost of Earth orbital transportation and a factor of 2 or 3 reduction in propulsion system mass and travel time for planetary missions within the next 15 years. Since more than 70% of projected launches over the next 10 years will require propulsion systems capable of attaining destinations beyond Low Earth Orbit, investment in in-space technologies will benefit a large percentage of future missions. Some of the most promising technologies for achieving these goals use the environment of space itself for energy and propulsion and are generically called, "propellantless" because they do not require on-board fuel to achieve thrust. An overview of the state-of-the-art in propellantless propulsion technologies such as solar and plasma sails, electrodynamic and momentum transfer tethers, and aeroassist and aerocapture will be described. Results of recent earth-based technology demonstrations and space tests will also be discussed.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Johnson, Les
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Cook, Stephen
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2001
Subject Category
Space Transportation And Safety
Meeting Information
Meeting: 52nd IAF Conference
Location: Toulouse
Country: France
Start Date: October 1, 2001
End Date: October 5, 2001
Sponsors: International Astronautical Federation
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 732-50-10
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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