Feasibility and Design Requirements of Fission Powered Magnetic Fusion Propulsion Systems for a Manned Mars Mission
thesisposted on 2019-08-16, 14:14 authored by Paul StockettPaul Stockett
For decades nuclear fusion space propulsion has been studied but due to technological set backs for self-sustaining fusion, it has been repeatedly abandoned in favor of more near-term or present day solutions. While these present day solutions of chemical and electric propulsion have been able to accomplish their missions, as the human race looks to explore Mars, a near term solution utilizing nuclear fusion propulsion must be sought as the fusion powered thruster case currently does not meet the minimum 0.2 thrust-to-weight ratio requirement. The current work seeks to investigate the use of a ssion powered magnetic fusion thruster for a manned Mars mission with an emphasis on creating a very near-term propulsion system. This will be accomplished by utilizing present day readily available technology and adapting methods of nuclear electric and nuclear fusion propulsion to build this ssion assisted propulsion system. Near term solutions have been demonstrated utilizing both DT and D-He3 fuels for a ssion powered and ssion assisted Dense Plasma Focus fusion device capable of achieving thrust-to-weight ratios greater than 0.2 for V's of 20 km/s. The Dense Plasma Focus can achieve thrust-to-weight ratios of 0.34 and 0.4 for ssion assisted and ssion powered cases, respectively, however, the Gasdynamic Mirror device proved to be an infeasible design as a ssion powered thruster due to the increased weight of a ssion reactor.