Ion Propulsion - An Enabling Technology for Interstellar Precursor Missions

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D. G. Fearn (2006), JBIS, 59, 88-93

Refcode: 2006.59.88
Keywords: Ion propulsion, high specific impulse, nuclear power, high velocity increment

In this paper it is shown that an advanced form of gridded ion thruster, employing a 4-grid ion extraction and acceleration system, can provide a velocity increment and specific impulse of interest to interstellar precursor missions, extending to a few hundred astronomical units from the sun. In this it is assumed that a nuclear power source is available with a mass-to-power ratio of 15 to 35 kg/kW and an output of several tens of kW. Mission durations are of about 25 years and the velocity increment provided exceeds 37 km/s.

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