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SCI/TECH: Aerojet To Develop Propulsion System For Future Space Cargo Vehicles

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posted on May, 10 2005 @ 11:38 PM
In his January '04 address at NASA Headquarters, President Bush announced his pledge to return to the Moon by 2020. Aerojet has taken on the task on designing a propusion system that can power a craft to Mars. The contract valued at $32.4 million, is just one of many recently awarded to companies planning for Moon/Mars missions. They(Aerojet) are hoping for a 30 fold increase in power at 1/3 the mass of conventional thruster technology.
Aerojet, a GenCorp company, announced Monday that it won a multi-year contract from NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate to design, build, test and deliver a 600kW Hall Thruster electric propulsion system to power future cargo transport vehicles to the Moon and mars.
The contract is valued at $32.4 million (including all options).

When the new system is delivered to NASA, Aerojet's work will represent a 30-fold increase in total power and thrust delivered over current state-of- the-art systems, which are approximately 18kW.

An additional benefit of the Aerojet Hall Thruster system is the significant reduction of propellant mass.

The system will require approximately one-third the propellant of equivalent propulsion systems. Industry studies predict a vehicle mass savings of up to 30 metric tons.

"Aerojet is a world leader in the development of new electric and chemical propulsion technologies for space applications," said Aerojet President Michael Martin.

"This contract win strengthens Aerojet's position as NASA's supplier of enabling propulsion technology and the propulsion provider of choice for the return to the Moon and further exploration of Mars."

Aerojet is teamed with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) and Colorado Power Electronics, Inc. on the program.

Using NASA GRC's design for a 150kW Hall Thruster, Aerojet's system will include four thrusters, four power processors, a xenon propellant feed system and a thermal management subsystem.

The program - which consists of a 12- month first phase and 3-year second phase - will culminate in a full-power integrated test.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

I was surprised they were actually making progress toward Moon and Mars missions. In addition to this contract there was a 13.7 billion dollar NASA contract awarded to PNNL(link below). PNNL principal investigator Kriston Brooks said: "Our ultimate goal is then to use the same microtechnology principles on a larger scale to provide propellant for a manned mission to Mars in the 2030 timeframe." They are doing some very interesting work manipulating microtechnology to produce rocket propellant in space and breathing oxygen for interplanetary travel. Some good links below to other Moon/Mars mission NASA contracts.

Related News Links:

[edit on 11-5-2005 by ZeddicusZulZorander]

posted on May, 11 2005 @ 12:37 AM
This is a very interesting technology, to say the least.

However, there is one thing I dont understand, is this a rocket, or kind of Ion engine?

posted on May, 11 2005 @ 12:41 AM
Can't wait till they start to incorporate some Nanotech into these propulsion technologies. Don't know the how, why or what of how they would do it but it would be interesting to say the least.

posted on May, 11 2005 @ 10:12 AM
According the various links, contractors are currently working on propulsion, craft, landing zones, refueling stations on Mars, space travel physcology, etc.....This is very exciting I always assumed the Pres. Bush statements were largely political with no real intention or motivation behind them. If these contractors know what they are talking about, we could be on the Moon inside 10 years and on Mars in less than 20.

posted on May, 11 2005 @ 12:00 PM

The contracts are funded by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, and all are related to the development of advanced solar power arrays for Moon/Mars exploration. Total value of these three contracts to Entech, if all options are exercised by NASA, is approximately $17.5 million. Source

Entech is supporting NASA Marshall in their development of a new type of spacecraft using high-power solar arrays to drive electric propulsion thrusters to ferry cargo from low earth orbit to lunar orbit.

These guys are designing the power supply for the propulsion system(submission). If we can easily travel and carry cargo back and fourth to the Moon, a trip to Mars will be, that much more feasible.

[edit on 11-5-2005 by Rren]

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