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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

System Architecture Analysis for the Use of a Combined Cycle Nuclear Thermal System for Power and Propulsion in Crewed Mars Exploration
by Maydan, Jack, M.E., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2020, 194; 27957792
Abstract (Summary)

One proposed solution to slow transport times, constrained consumables, and exorbitant propellant budgets associated with Human Mars Missions has often been to suggest nuclear propulsion. The higher specific impulse improves delta-V capabilities which helps to alleviate transport time and propellant mass constraints while providing substantial flexibility to other mission limitations. The canonical problems for nuclear propulsion in a Human Mars Mission have always been that its benefits are shadowed by its complexities and the system’s high uncertainty in mass due to its low TRL. This study serves to present research on a Human Mars Mission Architecture which will be viable within the 2020 decade, and resolves the canonical issues by combining power production with thermal propulsion through the same nuclear core. By using the core for constant power production, myriad complexities associated with restarting a cold reactor are averted, and the ability to quickly power up for an emergency burn is provided. The combined cycle system also reduces radiator mass substantially because the electrical power production task requires relatively manageable reactor power output levels (100s of kW) and the core can be cooled by reasonably sized radiators. The extremely high power output (100s of MW) used during propulsion is cooled exclusively by the propellant which is exhausted to space. Because it surmounts complexities, reduces uncertainty, and provides additional benefits to the crew, a combined cycle nuclear thermal rocket is most promising for enabling nuclear technologies on the journey to Mars.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nabity, James
Commitee: Daily, John, Kantha, Lakshmi, Neogi, Sanghamitra
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Aerospace Engineering
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: MAI 81/12(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Aerospace engineering
Keywords: Bi-modal, Combined cycle, Mars, Nuclear thermal, Power, Propulsion
Publication Number: 27957792
ISBN: 9798645497576
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