Fast Transits in the Solar System using Nuclear Electric Systems

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B. Parkinson (2020), JBIS, 73, pp.137-141

Refcode: 2020.73.137
Keywords: Fast Transit Orbits, Nuclear-Electric Propulsion, Outer Planet Exploration, Human Spaceflight

If we are ever to see the wide-scale exploration and exploitation of the Solar System then we would expect human presence to be a key component. To achieve this, shorter transit times will be required than those currently used by unmanned spacecraft. Nuclear energy (fission or fusion) offers the potential for large amounts of energy, and electric propulsion systems offer the potential for high specific impulses, but it is shown that the specific power-plant mass (kg/ kW) is a key limiting factor in the design of such fast transit systems. As an example, a mission to achieve a transit to the Jupiter system in one year is analysed. This paper is intended as a companion piece to the author’s “The Prospects for Human Expansion into the Solar System. ”

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