- Conference date: 10-14 January 1993
- Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA
President George Bush’s 1989 challenge to America to support the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) of ‘‘Back to the Moon and Human Mission to Mars’’ gives the space industry an opportunity to develop effective and efficient space transportation systems. This paper presents stage performance and requirements for a nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) Mars transportation system to support the human Mars mission of the SEI. Two classes of Mars mission profiles are considered in developing the NTR propulsion vehicle performance and requirements. The two Mars mission classes include the opposition class and conjunction class. The opposition class mission is associated with relatively short Mars stay times ranging from 30 to 90 days and total mission duration of 350 to 600 days. The conjunction class mission is associated with much longer Mars stay times ranging from 500 to 600 days and total mission durations of 875 to 1,000 days. Vehicle mass scaling equations are used to determine the NTR stage mass, size, and performance range required for different Mars mission opportunities and for different Mars mission durations. Mission opportunities considered include launch years 2010 to 2018. The 2010 opportunity is the most demanding launch opportunity and the 2018 opportunity is the least demanding opportunity. NTR vehicle mass and size sensitivity to NTR engine thrust level, engine specific impulse, NTR engine thrust‐to‐weight ratio, and Mars surface payload are presented. NTR propulsion parameter ranges include those associated with NERVA, particle bed reactor (PBR), low‐pressure, and ceramic‐metal‐type engine design.
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