A Survey of Propulsion Options for Cargo and Piloted Missions to Mars
K. Sankaran, L. Cassady, A.D. Kodys and E.Y. Choueiri
(Preprint) The Annals of the New York Academy of Science, Vol. 1017, pp. 450-467, May 2004.
Originally presented at the 1st
International Conference on New Trends in Astrodynamics in College Park,
MD, Jan. 20-22, 2003
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In this paper, high-power electric propulsion options are surveyed in the context of cargo and piloted missions to Mars. A low-thrust trajectory optimization program (RAPTOR) is utilized to analyze this mission. Candidate thrusters are chosen based upon demonstrated performance in the laboratory. Hall, self-field magnetoplasmadynamic (MPDT), self-field lithium Lorentz force accelerator (LiLFA), arcjet, and applied-field LiLFA systems are considered for this mission. In this first phase of the study, all thrusters are assumed to operate at a single power level (regardless of the efficiency-power curve), and the thruster specific mass and powerplant specific mass are taken to be the same for all systems. Under these assumptions, for a 7.5 MW, 60 mT payload, piloted mission, the self-field LiLFA results in the shortest trip time (340 days) with a reasonable propellant mass fraction of 57% (129 mT). For a 150 kW, 9 mT payload, cargo mission, both the applied-field LiLFA and the Hall thruster seem reasonable choices with propellant mass fractions of 42 to 45% (7 to 8 mT). The Hall thrusters provide better trip times(530-570 days) compared to the applied-field LiLFA (710 days) for the relatively less demanding mission.