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Interorbital Exchange - part 7, electric vehicles

3 Mar 2016, 06:18 UTC
Interorbital Exchange - part 7, electric vehicles
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All previous posts described all-chemical systems that could be built and operated profitably in the near term. This one focuses on electrical propulsion systems.The defining features of most electric propulsion: - High efficiency (high Isp) - Low thrust - High power requirements - Long trip times - Long operating life I chose a specific paper (Frisbee, Mikellides) to examine since the authors thoughtfully included most of the interesting parameters for a reusable NEP Mars cargo tug. I don't really dive into how to calculate this for yourself because the problem is quite difficult without modeling software.It all comes down to the details; the question of NEP vs. SEP vs. Chemical depends on the specific mission goals and technologies used.The summary:23 tons dry mass for a nuclear-electric tug of ~6 MW thermal / 1.2 MW electric64 tons cargo capacity from low Earth orbit to Phobos-Mars orbitJust under 40 tons of water propellant for the outbound trip and another 7.2 tons acquired at Phobos for the return2.2 years outbound, slightly less inboundTwo round trips between thruster refits, five round trips between reactor refitsMore after the break.Background:(skip to the next section if you are already familiar with electric propulsion)The general idea is to ...

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