Kuiper Belt Object Orbiter using Advanced Radioisotope Power Sources and Electric Propulsion

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S. R. Oleson; M. L. McGuire; J. Dankanich; A. Colozza; P. Schmitz; O. Khan; J. Drexler; J. Fittje (2011), JBIS, 64, 63-69

Refcode: 2011.64.63
Keywords: Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG), Stirling Radioisotope Generator (SRG-550), Advanced Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (ARTG), radioisotope power, Radioisotope Electric Propulsion (REP)

A joint NASA GRC/JPL design study was performed for the NASA Radioisotope Power Systems Office to explore the use of radioisotope electric propulsion for flagship class missions. The Kuiper Belt Object Orbiter is a flagship class mission concept projected for launch in the 2030 timeframe. Due to the large size of a flagship class science mission larger radioisotope power system `building blocks' were conceptualized to provide the roughly 4 kW of power needed by the NEXT ion propulsion system and the spacecraft. Using REP the spacecraft is able to rendezvous with and orbit a Kuiper Belt object in 16 years using either eleven (no spare) 420 W advanced RTGs or nine (with a spare) 550 W advanced Stirling Radioisotope systems. The design study evaluated integrating either system and estimated impacts on cost as well as required General Purpose Heat Source requirements.

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