Record Details

A Revolutionary Lunar Space Transportation System Architecture Using Extraterrestrial Lox-augmented NTR Propulsion
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Author and Affiliation:
Borowski, Stanley K.(NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States);
Corban, Robert R.(NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States);
Culver, Donald W.(NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States);
Bulman, Melvin J.(NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States);
Mcilwain, Mel C.(NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States)
Abstract: The concept of a liquid oxygen (LOX)-augmented nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) engine is introduced, and its potential for revolutionizing lunar space transportation system (LTS) performance using extraterrestrial 'lunar-derived' liquid oxygen (LUNOX) is outlined. The LOX-augmented NTR (LANTR) represents the marriage of conventional liquid hydrogen (LH2)-cooled NTR and airbreathing engine technologies. The large divergent section of the NTR nozzle functions as an 'afterburner' into which oxygen is injected and supersonically combusted with nuclear preheated hydrogen emerging from the NTR's choked sonic throat: 'scramjet propulsion in reverse.' By varying the oxygen-to-fuel mixture ratio (MR), the LANTR concept can provide variable thrust and specific impulse (Isp) capability with a LH2-cooled NTR operating at relatively constant power output. For example, at a MR = 3, the thrust per engine can be increased by a factor of 2.75 while the Isp decreases by only 30 percent. With this thrust augmentation option, smaller, 'easier to develop' NTR's become more acceptable from a mission performance standpoint (e.g., earth escape gravity losses are reduced and perigee propulsion requirements are eliminated). Hydrogen mass and volume is also reduced resulting in smaller space vehicles. An evolutionary NTR-based lunar architecture requiring only Shuttle C and/or 'in-line' shuttle-derived launch vehicles (SDV's) would operate initially in an 'expandable mode' with NTR lunar transfer vehicles (LTV's) delivering 80 percent more payload on piloted missions than their LOX/LH2 chemical propulsion counterparts. With the establishment of LUNOX production facilities on the lunar surface and 'fuel/oxidizer' depot in low lunar orbit (LLO), monopropellant NTR's would be outfitted with an oxygen propellant module, feed system, and afterburner nozzle for 'bipropellant' operation. The LANTR cislunar LTV now transitions to a reusable mode with smaller vehicle and payload doubling benefits on each piloted round trip mission. As the initial lunar outposts grow to centralized bases and settlements with a substantial permanent human presence, a LANTR-powered shuttle capable of 36 to 24 hour 'one-way' trip times to the moon and back becomes possible with initial mass in low earth orbit (IMLEO) requirements of approximately 160 to 240 metric tons, respectively.
Publication Date: Aug 01, 1994
Document ID:
19950005290
(Acquired Dec 28, 1995)
Accession Number: 95N11703
Subject Category: SPACE TRANSPORTATION
Report/Patent Number: NASA-TM-106726, E-9096, NAS 1.15:106726, AIAA PAPER 94-3343
Document Type: Conference Paper
Publisher Information: United States
Meeting Information: Joint Propulsion Conference; 30th; 27-29 Jun. 1994; Indianapolis, IN; United States
Financial Sponsor: NASA; United States
Organization Source: NASA Lewis Research Center; Cleveland, OH, United States
Description: 23p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: No Copyright
NASA Terms: LAUNCH VEHICLE CONFIGURATIONS; LIQUID OXYGEN; LUNAR SPACECRAFT; NUCLEAR PROPULSION; NUCLEAR ROCKET ENGINES; ORBIT TRANSFER VEHICLES; PROPULSION SYSTEM CONFIGURATIONS; SPACE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM; SPACECRAFT PROPULSION; THRUST AUGMENTATION; LOW EARTH ORBITS; LUNAR LOGISTICS; LUNAR RESOURCES; OXYGEN PRODUCTION; SHUTTLE DERIVED VEHICLES; SPECIFIC IMPULSE; VARIABLE THRUST
Imprint And Other Notes: Presented at the 30th Joint Propulsion Conference, Indianapolis, IN, 27-29 Jun. 1994; sponsored by AIAA, ASME, SAE, and ASEE
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