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Tethered nuclear power for the space stationA nuclear space power system the SP-100 is being developed for future missions where large amounts of electrical power will be required. Although it is primarily intended for unmanned spacecraft, it can be adapted to a manned space platform by tethering it above the station through an electrical transmission line which isolates the reactor far away from the inhabited platform and conveys its power back to where it is needed. The transmission line, used in conjunction with an instrument rate shield, attenuates reactor radiation in the vicinity of the space station to less than one-one hundredth of the natural background which is already there. This combination of shielding and distance attenuation is less than one-tenth the mass of boom-mounted or onboard man-rated shields that are required when the reactor is mounted nearby. This paper describes how connection is made to the platform (configuration, operational requirements) and introduces a new element the coaxial transmission tube which enables efficient transmission of electrical power through long tethers in space. Design methodology for transmission tubes and tube arrays is discussed. An example conceptual design is presented that shows SP-100 at three power levels 100 kWe, 300 kWe, and 1000 kWe connected to space station via a 2 km HVDC transmission line/tether. Power system performance, mass, and radiation hazard are estimated with impacts on space station architecture and operation.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Bents, D. J.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 12, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1985
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Accession Number
Distribution Limits

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