System Design of Propulsion Systems for Moon or Planetary Descent Vehicles

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M. Peukert; M. Riehle (2007), JBIS, 60, 304-308

Refcode: 2007.60.304
Keywords: Propulsion system, plug nozzle, engine cluster, planetary, lunar, moon, lander, main and assist engine, throttable engine

Future planetary exploration missions will require the landing of larger payloads more softly and precisely than recently performed. The paper considers several future missions, the landing requirements produce different thrust level needed for the landing vehicle but are similar in many other repects. To fulfil the mission needs of these planetary lander studies, preferably with a common chemical propulsion subsystem concept for all these studies to use as much commonalities as possible, a trade- off has been performed comparing the most promising concepts. These are the concept of a throttable turbo pump engine, of main and assist engines and the clustered/plug nozzle concept. There the propulsion concept of a clustered/plug nozzle is proposed. A discussion is given which shows the advantages of this concept. One of its major advantages is the scalability to different mission, spacecraft mass und thrust requirements. Once the clustered/plug nozzle concept is developed it can easily be adapted to different thrust needs. Therefore just the thruster forming the primary nozzle of the plug nozzle has to be exchanged; the conceptual layout of the propulsion subsystem remains unchanged. The wide variety of the Astrium in-house monopropellant and bi-propellant thruster portfolio supports this scalability. Additional benefits of this concept like stepwise thrust variation or the possibility to incorporate thrust vector steering make this concept even more attractive. The develop- ment risk and the costs of the proposed clustered/plug nozzle concept are expected to be significantly lower than that of a dedicated single main engine.

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