CONCEPTUAL DESIGN ANALYSIS OF A 5 MWE THERMIONIC REACTOR SPACE PROPULSION PLANT,
DOUGLAS AIRCRAFT CO INC SANTA MONICA CALIF
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The conceptual design of a 5 MWE thermionic reactor propulsion plant is presented. Thermionic emission characteristics are evaluated for a cylindrical power converter incorporating a 60 vo uranium dioxidetungsten cermet fuel, a tungsten emitter and alternative collector materials. Optimization of the reactor and the associated primary coolant and heat rejection systems results in an average emission temperature of 2195 to 2285K, and an average radiator coolant temperature of 1595F under rated operating conditions. The specific weight of the overall propulsion plant incorporating electron bombardment ion engines is 19.4 lbKWE, including radiator structure and a reactor shielding weight of 2.8 lbKWE. The propulsion plant is integrated with the payload requirements for a manned Mars mission in a space vehicle configuration which is nominally within the Earth orbit capabilities of an augmented Saturn C-5 launch vehicle, assuming the propellant and crew are orbited by separate vehicles. A mission analysis is conducted to determine the comparative performance of the plant as a function of thrustor limitations, specific weight and power level. The effects of using a separate nuclear rocket stage for Earth escape are also evaluated.