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Analysis of the Requested Perfection of a Nuclear Electric Propulsion System for a Mars Mission with a 2-Year Duration

Abstract—The results of the design and ballistic analysis of a 2-year manned mission to Mars are presented. Dependences of the maximum permissible specific mass of the electric power and propulsion system on the spacecraft (SC) mass in the initial earth orbit are obtained. It is shown that, for the analyzed set of characteristics of SC systems with the SC mass in the initial orbit of 200 t, to implement a Mars mission with a 2-year duration, the required perfection of the electric power and propulsion system should be ideally high (the specific mass of the electric power and propulsion system should be no more than 3.26 kg/kW). Increasing the mass in the initial orbit leads to a relaxation of the requirements for the perfection of a transport system. If the mass in the initial orbit is increased to 475 t, then the maximum possible specific mass of the electric power and propulsion system grows to 11 kg/kW. The optimal electric power of the nuclear power plant with a change in the initial mass within the mentioned range (from 200 to 475 t) increases from 7.7 to 11.7 MW. The optimal specific impulse of the electric propulsion falls from 9000 s (this value is accepted as the maximum permissible) to 6880 s. It is shown that, if the specific mass of the electric power and propulsion system is 5, 7.5, and 10 kg/kW, then, to implement the mission, the SC mass in the initial orbit should be no less than 234.1, 305.4, and 415.5 t, respectively.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project no. 16-19-10429.

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Correspondence to M. S. Konstantinov.

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Translated by M. Samokhina

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Konstantinov, M.S. Analysis of the Requested Perfection of a Nuclear Electric Propulsion System for a Mars Mission with a 2-Year Duration. Cosmic Res 56, 352–364 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1134/S0010952518050039

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Keywords

  • Mars Mission
  • Electric Propulsion System (EPS)
  • Specific Impulse
  • Heliocentric Transfer
  • Thrust Function