Propulsion engineering study for small-scale Mars missions

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Rocket propulsion options for small-scale Mars missions are presented and compared, particularly for the terminal landing maneuver and for sample return. Mars landing has a low propulsive {Delta}v requirement on a {approximately}1-minute time scale, but at a high acceleration. High thrust/weight liquid rocket technologies, or advanced pulse-capable solids, developed during the past decade for missile defense, are therefore more appropriate for small Mars landers than are conventional space propulsion technologies. The advanced liquid systems are characterize by compact lightweight thrusters having high chamber pressures and short lifetimes. Blowdown or regulated pressure-fed operation can satisfy the Mars landing requirement, but hardware ... continued below

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54 p.

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Whitehead, J. September 12, 1995.

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Description

Rocket propulsion options for small-scale Mars missions are presented and compared, particularly for the terminal landing maneuver and for sample return. Mars landing has a low propulsive {Delta}v requirement on a {approximately}1-minute time scale, but at a high acceleration. High thrust/weight liquid rocket technologies, or advanced pulse-capable solids, developed during the past decade for missile defense, are therefore more appropriate for small Mars landers than are conventional space propulsion technologies. The advanced liquid systems are characterize by compact lightweight thrusters having high chamber pressures and short lifetimes. Blowdown or regulated pressure-fed operation can satisfy the Mars landing requirement, but hardware mass can be reduced by using pumps. Aggressive terminal landing propulsion designs can enable post-landing hop maneuvers for some surface mobility. The Mars sample return mission requires a small high performance launcher having either solid motors or miniature pump-fed engines. Terminal propulsion for 100 kg Mars landers is within the realm of flight-proven thruster designs, but custom tankage is desirable. Landers on a 10 kg scale also are feasible, using technology that has been demonstrated but not previously flown in space. The number of sources and the selection of components are extremely limited on this smallest scale, so some customized hardware is required. A key characteristic of kilogram-scale propulsion is that gas jets are much lighter than liquid thrusters for reaction control. The mass and volume of tanks for inert gas can be eliminated by systems which generate gas as needed from a liquid or a solid, but these have virtually no space flight history. Mars return propulsion is a major engineering challenge; earth launch is the only previously-solved propulsion problem requiring similar or greater performance.

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54 p.

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OSTI as DE96005790

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  • Other Information: PBD: 12 Sep 1995

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  • Other: DE96005790
  • Report No.: UCRL-CR--122442
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/192513 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 192513
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc673010

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  • September 12, 1995

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 29, 2015, 9:42 p.m.

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  • Feb. 23, 2016, 11:51 a.m.

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Whitehead, J. Propulsion engineering study for small-scale Mars missions, report, September 12, 1995; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc673010/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.