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
"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]