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Propulsion Technology Assessment: Science and Enabling Technologies to Explore the Interstellar MediumThe Advanced Concepts Office at NASA’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center conducted a study to assess what low-thrust advanced propulsion system candidates, existing and near term, could deliver a small, Voyager-like satellite to our solar system’s heliopause, approximately 100 AU from the sun, within 10 years. The advanced propulsion system trade study consisted of three candidates, including a Magnetically Shielded Miniature Hall thruster, a solar sail and an electric sail. A second analysis was conducted to determine which solid rocket motor kick stage(s) would be required to provide additional thrust at various points in the trajectory, assuming a characteristic energy capability provided by a Space Launch System Block 1B vehicle architecture carrying an 8.4 meter payload fairing. Two trajectory profiles were considered, including an escape trajectory using a Jupiter gravity assist and an escape trajectory first performing a Jupiter gravity assist followed by an Oberth maneuver around the sun and an optional Saturn gravity assist. Results indicated that if the Technology Readiness Level of an electric sail could be increased in time, this technology could not only enable a satellite to reach 100 AU in 10 years but it could potentially do so in even less time.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Hopkins, Randall C.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Thomas, Herbert D.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Wiegmann, Bruce M.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Heaton, Andrew F.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Johnson, Les
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Beers, Benjamin R.
(Jacobs Engineering and Science Services and Skills Augmentation Group (ESSSA) Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
November 19, 2015
Publication Date
August 31, 2015
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition (AIAA SPACE 2015)
Location: Pasadena, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: August 31, 2015
End Date: September 2, 2015
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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