Record Details

Nuclear Thermal Rocket/Vehicle Design Options for Future NASA Missions to the Moon and Mars
NTRS Full-Text: Click to View  [PDF Size: 17.7 MB]
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);
Mcguire, Melissa L.(Analex Corp., Brook Park, OH., United States);
Beke, Erik G.(Dayton Univ., OH., United States)
Abstract: The nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) provides a unique propulsion capability to planners/designers of future human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars. In addition to its high specific impulse (approximately 850-1000 s) and engine thrust-to-weight ratio (approximately 3-10), the NTR can also be configured as a 'dual mode' system capable of generating electrical power for spacecraft environmental systems, communications, and enhanced stage operations (e.g., refrigeration for long-term liquid hydrogen storage). At present the Nuclear Propulsion Office (NPO) is examining a variety of mission applications for the NTR ranging from an expendable, single-burn, trans-lunar injection (TLI) stage for NASA's First Lunar Outpost (FLO) mission to all propulsive, multiburn, NTR-powered spacecraft supporting a 'split cargo-piloted sprint' Mars mission architecture. Each application results in a particular set of requirements in areas such as the number of engines and their respective thrust levels, restart capability, fuel operating temperature and lifetime, cryofluid storage, and stage size. Two solid core NTR concepts are examined -- one based on NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application) derivative reactor (NDR) technology, and a second concept which utilizes a ternary carbide 'twisted ribbon' fuel form developed by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The NDR and CIS concepts have an established technology database involving significant nuclear testing at or near representative operating conditions. Integrated systems and mission studies indicate that clusters of two to four 15 to 25 klbf NDR or CIS engines are sufficient for most of the lunar and Mars mission scenarios currently under consideration. This paper provides descriptions and performance characteristics for the NDR and CIS concepts, summarizes NASA's First Lunar Outpost and Mars mission scenarios, and describes characteristics for representative cargo and piloted vehicles compatible with a reference 240 t-class heavy lift launch vehicle (HLLV) and smaller 120 t HLLV option. Attractive performance characteristics and high-leverage technologies associated with both the engine and stage are identified, and supporting parametric sensitivity data is provided. The potential for commonality of engine and stage components to satisfy a broad range of lunar and Mars missions is also discussed.
Publication Date: Sep 01, 1995
Document ID:
19960001947
(Acquired Jan 12, 1996)
Accession Number: 96N11955
Subject Category: SPACECRAFT PROPULSION AND POWER
Report/Patent Number: NASA-TM-107071, NAS 1.15:107071, AIAA PAPER 93-4170, E-9935
Document Type: Conference Paper
Publisher Information: United States
Meeting Information: Space Programs and Technologies Conference and Exhibit; 21-23 Sep. 1993; Huntsville, AL; United States
Meeting Sponsor: AIAA
Contract/Grant/Task Num: NAS3-25776; RTOP 242-10-01
Financial Sponsor: NASA; United States
Organization Source: NASA Lewis Research Center; Cleveland, OH, United States
Description: 39p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: Copyright; Distribution as joint owner in the copyright
NASA Terms: CARGO SPACECRAFT; LUNAR SPACECRAFT; MANNED MARS MISSIONS; MANNED SPACECRAFT; NUCLEAR PROPULSION; NUCLEAR ROCKET ENGINES; PROPULSION SYSTEM CONFIGURATIONS; SPACE TRANSPORTATION; SPACECRAFT PROPULSION; MISSION PLANNING; MULTIENGINE VEHICLES; NUCLEAR ENGINE FOR ROCKET VEHICLES; PROPULSION SYSTEM PERFORMANCE; REACTOR TECHNOLOGY; SPACECRAFT DESIGN
Imprint And Other Notes: Presented at the Space Programs and Technologies Conference and Exhibit, Huntsville, AL, 21-23 Sep. 1993; sponsored by AIAA
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