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Improved Nuclear Reactor and Shield Mass Model for Space ApplicationsNew technologies are being developed to explore the distant reaches of the solar system. Beyond Mars, solar energy is inadequate to power advanced scientific instruments. One technology that can meet the energy requirements is the space nuclear reactor. The nuclear reactor is used as a heat source for which a heat-to-electricity conversion system is needed. Examples of such conversion systems are the Brayton, Rankine, and Stirling cycles. Since launch cost is proportional to the amount of mass to lift, mass is always a concern in designing spacecraft. Estimations of system masses are an important part in determining the feasibility of a design. I worked under Michael Barrett in the Thermal Energy Conversion Branch of the Power & Electric Propulsion Division. An in-house Closed Cycle Engine Program (CCEP) is used for the design and performance analysis of closed-Brayton-cycle energy conversion systems for space applications. This program also calculates the system mass including the heat source. CCEP uses the subroutine RSMASS, which has been updated to RSMASS-D, to estimate the mass of the reactor. RSMASS was developed in 1986 at Sandia National Laboratories to quickly estimate the mass of multi-megawatt nuclear reactors for space applications. In response to an emphasis for lower power reactors, RSMASS-D was developed in 1997 and is based off of the SP-100 liquid metal cooled reactor. The subroutine calculates the mass of reactor components such as the safety systems, instrumentation and control, radiation shield, structure, reflector, and core. The major improvements in RSMASS-D are that it uses higher fidelity calculations, is easier to use, and automatically optimizes the systems mass. RSMASS-D is accurate within 15% of actual data while RSMASS is only accurate within 50%. My goal this summer was to learn FORTRAN 77 programming language and update the CCEP program with the RSMASS-D model.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Robb, Kevin (Pennsylvania State Univ. PA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium I
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20050186794Analytic PrimaryResearch Symposium I