This report summarizes the results of an evaluation of a variety of advanced low thrust propulsion options for the cargo-delivery portion of a split-mission piloted Mars exploration scenario. The propulsion options considered were solar sails. 100-MWe class nuclear electric propulsion (NEP), 100-WEe class solar electric propulsion (SEP), magnetic sails (magsails), mass drivers, rail guns, solar thermal rockets. beamed-energy (laser and microwave) propulsion systems, and tethers. The requirement was to transport 400 metric tons (MT) of cargo from a 500-km altitude low Earth orbit (LEO) to a 6000-km altitude Mars orbit (e.g., Phobos’ orbit) for the 2014 opportunity. The primary figures of meri usedt in this study were total initial mass in low Earth orbit (IMLEO) and the Earth-to-Mars trip time.
Advanced Propulsion Options For The Mars Cargo Mission, September 1989 [161 Pages, 13MB]