Feasibility of Isotopic Power for Manned Lunar Missions. Volume 1. Summary. Page: 18 of 61
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IV. FUEL AVAILABILITY
The thermal energy required from the isotopic fuel is dependent
on the specific power conversion system selected. Mission require-
ments at time of launch range from 8 to 28 kilowatts(t). A review of
most recent data of the AEC current and planned production of isotopes
indicated that polonium-210 is the best isotopic fuel that could be avail-
able in sufficient quantities to meet a 1967 to 1968 launch date.
A 30-day period from time of fuel encapsulation (heat source fabri-
cation) to launch and a 14-day mission requires a fuel loading of 72
and 154 grams polonium for the Stirling and thermoelectric systems,
respectively. The thermionic, Rankine and Brayton cycles are between
Polonium is currently produced at Mound Laboratory, an installa-
tion operated for the USAEC. Present production capabilities are 50
grams annually. Additional processing is planned and will increase the
capability to 300 to 500 gm/yr during Fiscal 1966 and 1967.
A capacity of approximately 1000 gin/yr would provide a fuel loading
for any of the systems studied in a two-month or less production period.
Minimum production times are of paramount importance with short half
life isotopes and multiple launches.
According to information obtained from the AEC Division of Iso-
topes Development regarding fuel requirements defined in this study,
an annual production capability in excess of 1000 grams could be made
available two years after receipt of official request to the AEC. The
two-year lead time is based on installing the additional required
processing facilities at Savannah River with an investment of $1. 5 mil-
lion. Resulting estimated production cost on a per curie basis is $1. 13.
Should demands for multiple missions exceed 1000 gm/yr, the AEC
could install a capacity approaching 10, 000 grams (equivalent to 1400
kilowatts(t) at Hanford. A lead time of three to four years and a facility
expenditure of $4. 5 million would be required. The AEC estimate of
Hanford fuel costs in Fiscal 1968 and 1969 is $0. 45/curie.
The estimated cost of a fuel loading, based on an annual production
of 1000 grams, ranges from $159 to $907 thousand, depending on the
power conversion cycle, time of launch and location of the processing
In addition to its availability potential, polonium-210 is a most
promising fuel for short duration, manned space missions and is able
to offer the following desirable features and advantages:
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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/m1/18/: accessed May 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.