High-Power Solar Electric Propulsion for Human Exploration Missions

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G. Woodcock (2006), JBIS, 59, 230-238

Refcode: 2006.59.230
Keywords: Human exploration missions, electric propulsion, lunar mission architectures, space architectures, Mars mission architectures, space exploration cost, cost reduction

The cost of human exploration missions has been and is an impediment to their accomplishment. Competition for government funds is intense and increasing. New technology for in-space propulsion is a promising avenue for reduction of costs to bring them more nearly in line with realistic expectations of funding availability. Two cost reduction means are significant: (1) reduction in launch mass leading to more flexibility in operations and compatibility with smaller launchers; and (2) greater re- use of in-space propulsion and crew habitation systems. Independent cost analyses are presented and architectures with and without electric propulsion are compared in terms of average annual cost. Electric propulsion architectures can approach 50% cost savings.

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