Feasibility of Isotopic Power for Manned Lunar Missions. Volume 1. Summary. Page: 15 of 61
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Increased space station capability is foreseen in the large rotating
earth orbiting station accommodating as many as 40 men for periods
up to five years. Obviously, a five-kilowatt system could not provide
the base power for such a station. However, the need for a highly
reliable emergency power source points directly to the desirability
of having an off the shelf and proven isotope power supply in the 1970s.
The concept of a ferry vehicle transporting as many as six men to and
from the station and remaining on station for as long as six months as
a lifeboat suggests still another need within the spectrum of power ad-
vanced for the isotope systems.
EMPIRE (Early Manned Planetary Interplanetary Roundtrip Expedi-
tion) and other similar studies have shown that the manned Mars mis-
sion might be accomplished with minimum average power as low as
10 kilowatts. The duration of the mission could vary from about 360
to 880 days, depending upon the launch conditions and the projected
stay time at Mars. The Mars Excursion Module (MEM), not unlike
the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), might descend upon the Martian
surface for a period of about 45 days. The two- to three-kilowatt
isotope system would appear to be the ideal power supply for MEM.
The initial concept of a lunar base with two men for 90 days and
subsequent modular growth also suggests the applicability of the isotope
system. Expansion of the colony would eventually outstrip the isotope
capability; still, the need for auxiliary power would continue.
The scope of unmanned mission programs under study is replete
with requirements for power in the range under consideration here.
Active communication satellites, weather satellites, orbiting observa-
tories, deep space probes and potential military applications all seek
long-lived, reliable power. Of particular interest among these are
the Voyager interplanetary spacecraft requiring power on the order of
2.5 kilowatts; the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory requiring power
up to one kilowatt; the Advanced Solar Probe requiring up to 750 watts;
and unspecified communications satellites needing in the neighborhood
of three kilowatts for direct communications with airborne stations.
Although it is beyond the scope of this study to analyze RIPS applica-
tion to specific space missions other than Apollo, the trend in require-
ments is clear and points to a significant void in the power supply
spectrum. The decision to develop isotope systems to fill this void in
time to enable designers to take full advantage of them is definitely
warranted. The availability of lightweight, compact, highly reliable
isotope systems will promote their application and substantially enhance
the national space capability.
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Feasibility of Isotopic Power for Manned Lunar Missions. Volume 1. Summary., report, January 1, 1964; Baltimore, Maryland. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1032333/m1/15/: accessed May 27, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.