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A One-year, Short-Stay Crewed Mars Mission Using Bimodal Nuclear Thermal Electric Propulsion (BNTEP) - A Preliminary AssessmentA crewed mission to Mars poses a signi cant challenge in dealing with the physiolog- ical issues that arise with the crew being exposed to a near zero-gravity environment as well as signi cant solar and galactic radiation for such a long duration. While long sur- face stay missions exceeding 500 days are the ultimate goal for human Mars exploration, short round trip, short surface stay missions could be an important intermediate step that would allow NASA to demonstrate technology as well as study the physiological e ects on the crew. However, for a 1-year round trip mission, the outbound and inbound hy- perbolic velocity at Earth and Mars can be very large resulting in a signi cant propellant requirement for a high thrust system like Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP). Similarly, a low thrust Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) system requires high electrical power lev- els (10 megawatts electric (MWe) or more), plus advanced power conversion technology to achieve the lower speci c mass values needed for such a mission. A Bimodal Nuclear Thermal Electric Propulsion (BNTEP) system is examined here that uses three high thrust Bimodal Nuclear Thermal Rocket (BNTR) engines allowing short departure and capture maneuvers. The engines also generate electrical power that drives a low thrust Electric Propulsion (EP) system used for ecient interplanetary transit. This combined system can help reduce the total launch mass, system and operational requirements that would otherwise be required for equivalent NEP or Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) mission. The BNTEP system is a hybrid propulsion concept where the BNTR reactors operate in two separate modes. During high-thrust mode operation, each BNTR provides 10's of kilo- Newtons of thrust at reasonably high speci c impulse (Isp) of 900 seconds for impulsive trans-planetary injection and orbital insertion maneuvers. When in power generation / EP mode, the BNTR reactors are coupled to a Brayton power conversion system allowing each reactor to generate 100's of kWe of electrical power to a very high Isp (3000 s) EP thruster system for sustained vehicle acceleration and deceleration in heliocentric space.
Document ID
20140009587
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Authors
Burke, Laura A. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Borowski, Stanley K. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
McCurdy, David R. (Vantage Partners, LLC Brook Park, OH, United States)
Packard, Thomas W. (Vantage Partners, LLC Brook Park, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
July 18, 2014
Publication Date
September 1, 2013
Subject Category
Astrodynamics
Report/Patent Number
GRC-E-DAA-TN10204
NASA/TM-2013-216568
E-18756
Meeting Information
AIAA/ASMI/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit(San Jose, CA)
Funding Number(s)
CONTRACT_GRANT: NNC12BA01B
WBS: WBS 279585.04.01.22
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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