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NTR - NETS 2009


Nuclear Thermal Rocket Enhanced Lunar Launch Fleet

Nuclear Thermal Rocket Enhanced Lunar Launch Fleet

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  • 1. NTR-Enhanced Lunar-BaseSupply Using ExistingLaunch Fleet CapabilitiesJohn BessIdaho National LaboratoryEmily ColvinGeorgia Institute of TechnologyPaul CummingsUniversity of MichiganNuclear and Emerging Technologies for SpaceANS Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GAJune 14-19, 2009
  • 2. ObjectiveAssess the feasibility of employing current Earth-to-orbit launch vehicles and a nuclear thermal rocket engine to deliver a 21 metric ton payload to the lunar surface 2
  • 3. Mission Characterization LSAM Burns to LEO Achieve LLO EDS Detaches fromLaunch CaLV; Burns toon CaLV Circularize Orbit & Achieve LEO Earth Moon LSAM LSAM Burns to Lands Descend to Lunar LLO Surface TLIEDS Burns to Achieve TLI LSAM Detaches Delivery of 21 metric tons in from EDS support of a lunar base NASA’s Exploration Systems Architecture Study Final Report. NASA-TM-2005-214062, November 2005
  • 4. NTR-Enhanced ESAS ArchitectureSubstitution of the chemical EDS with a NTRIncrease lunar surface payload by 36.2% orReduce IMLEO by 24.1% Using a Nuclear Thermal Rocket to Support a Lunar Outpost: Is It Cost Effective? STAIF 2007.
  • 5. What Makes This Study Different?Assume that the Ares rockets and other proposed earth-to-orbit launch systems will be unavailable for useUse only existing launch vehicles coupled with a NTR to provide lunar support
  • 6. Launch Fleet CharacterizationAssessed characteristics of various foreign and domestic launch vehiclesLimitations were based on volume and not mass restraints for delivery to LEO ¤ Liquid hydrogen propellantLaunch vehicles and facilities within the United States were preferred ¤ Reduce security and handling concerns
  • 7. Delta IV Heavy  Boeing  Launch Facilities ¤ Space Launch Complex 37B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL ¤ Space Launch Complex 6, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA  Characteristics ¤ 5-m ID, 13.8-m long faring ¤ 50,800 lb LEO ¤ $253 M (2004) per launch
  • 8. Atlas V Heavy  Lockheed Martin  Launch Facilities ¤ Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL ¤ Space Launch Complex 3-East, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA  Characteristics ¤ 4.6-m ID, 12.2-m long faring ¤ 27,500 lb LEO ¤ $138 M (2004) per launch
  • 9. Rendezvous with Orbital AssemblySix rockets needed ¤ 1 – reactor, shielding, structural ¤ 1 – payload, LSAM ¤ 4 – liquid hydrogen propellant ¤ NTR specific impulse of 850 sAn Isp of 950 s would require only four launch vehicles
  • 10. Nuclear Thermal Rocket Engine 650 MW tungsten-cermet reactor 93%-enriched HEU-O2 45-cm-thick ZrH shadow shield H2 flow rate: ¤ 18.0 kg/s (850 s) ¤ 16.1 kg/s (950 s)
  • 11. Assembly LogisticsIn-orbit infrastructure ¤ Independent orbital space garage ¤ Expansion of the International Space StationMulti-launch coordination and timely construction ¤ Mitigate H2 boil-off concerns ¤ Development of in-space machining and welding that have already been demonstrated
  • 12. Evaluation of Launch CostsReported launch cost estimates for the Ares rockets are ~$3K/lb (~$7K/kg) to LEO ¤ $875M to place 125 metric tons in LEO~$12K/kg for Delta IV and Atlas V rockets ¤ $1.4B to launch 6 rocketsThe Ares rockets use “economy of scale” for reduced launch cost ¤ Delta II and Atlas 2AS launch costs were still ~$12K/kg ¤ Similarly, a Ares V rocket would cost $1.5B
  • 13. Additional Launch CostsNTR engine ¤ ~$3B for contained test facility ¤ $1B for SAFE testingIn-orbit assembly ¤ Dominated by transportation costs, which are sensitive to demand ¤ Human assembly with associated infrastructure to cost ~10% of total ($140M)Extra structural materials and assembly ¤ Assumed ~$140M
  • 14. Cost Estimate for Lunar Base Supply ($B) ESAS Fleet of Fleet of Cost Mission 6 rockets 4 rockets Mission 1.50 1.40 1.14 Assembly 0.00 0.14 0.11 Structural 0.00 0.14 0.11NTR Engine 0.00 1.00 1.00 Total Cost 1.50 2.68 2.37
  • 15. Additional Cost and Logistics NeedsUpgrade costs for new vehicle development and expansion of launch facilities are unknownLaunch costs heavily influenced by supply and demandAdditional costs may exist for coordinating multiple launches, especially near the ISSCurrent launch systems are not man-rated and usable only for material transport
  • 16. Developing Space Exploration CapabilitiesEstablishing NTR propulsion capabilities for other missions ¤ Mars and beyond, reusable rockets, fast transit capabilitiesIn-orbit construction allows for use of any launch vehicle system to “build” the rocket size of choice ¤ Not limited to a single quantized vehicle type ¤ Loss of a single launch vehicle does not jeopardize the entire missionExtraterrestrial assembly and repair techniques
  • 17. Recent Developments in the NewsThe Orlando Sentinel (4/2/09) – Cost for Constellation has “Ballooned” to $44 BillionParabolic Arc (4/4/09) – Space Frontier Foundation Will Campaign to “Kill” Ares ¤ Fund cheapest medium-lift vehicle launcherThe Orlando Sentinel (4/23/09) – NASA’s Internal Ares V Launch Date May Be Delayed by Two YearsSpace News (5/9/09) – ULA Considering Ways to Alleviate “Launch Bottlenecks.” ¤ Build additional Atlas 5 launch infrastructure ¤ Purchase multiple vehicles at a timeThe Aerospace Daily and Defense Report (6/15/09) – Delta IV Cheaper than Ares (for ISS) but at the Cost of Time
  • 18. ConclusionsCosts have been estimated for the use of existing launch vehicles and a NTR to deliver 21 metric tons to the lunar surface ¤ ~ 60-80% greater than the estimated $1.5B cost for an Ares V rocket ¤ Development costs have not been fully assessed for either systems ¤ Benefits of developing in-space construction allows for the development of a more robust, lower risk exploration architecture 18
  • 19. AcknowledgmentsCenter for Space Nuclear Research ¤ Director Steve Howe ¤ 2006 CSNR Summer FellowsIdaho National Laboratory ¤ Jim Werner
  • 20. This work was performed by the Center for Space Nuclear Research under the direction of Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC (subcontract 43238) under Contract No. DE-AC07-05ID14517 with the U.S. Department of Energy