Nuclear Electric Propulsion for Near-Term Space Missions

by J. E. Asbell-Clarke, LANL, United States,
M. G. Houts, LANL, United States,
P. W. Keaton, LANL, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space


Potential uses of nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) for earth-orbit, lunar, and martian missions are analyzed. NEP systems allow a higher payload mass fraction than chemical systems. NEP systems also allow a reduction in mission duration for interplanetary missions. The NEP reactor can be used to power the payload when the propulsion subsystem is shutdown. NEP systems may also reduce the total number of earth launches required to deliver a payload.

Subject Headings: Payloads | Space exploration | Electric power | System analysis | Chemicals | Electrical systems | Moon | Nuclear power

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