Pulsed Plasma Rocket: Shielded, Fast Transits for Humans to Mars

The performance of a propulsion system with high Isp and high thrust allows missions throughout the solar system and beyond which are not possible with current technology. Human missions to Mars in two months are possible.

Alternatively, heavier ships containing shielding against Galactic Cosmic Rays are enabled so that the dose to the crew is reduced to negligible levels. This may be preferable for Mars missions or may enable human missions to the Asteroid Belt in acceptable timeframes.

Additionally, a mission to the 550 AU location where the Sun’s gravitational lens focuses can be considered.

For this study, Howe Industrie intend to focus on the large, heavily shielded ship to transport humans and cargo to Mars for the development of a Martian base.

16 thoughts on “Pulsed Plasma Rocket: Shielded, Fast Transits for Humans to Mars”

  1. Same folks are doing rad boosted thermoelectric generator research in another NIAC grant granted at the same time. Others had posited that overall it appears to be a PUFF derivative (or at least smaller), where dropping most of the shielding drops the weight considerably, coupled with using the rad boosted TEG’s for the power cycle.

    https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/niac/2020_Phase_I_Phase_II/High_Irradiance_Peltier_Operated_Tungsten_Exo_Reflector/

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  2. I think even orthogonal fins will radiate each other, as thermal radiation is not limited to being normal to the fin surface.

    A single plane of fins. ie. One plate extending out from each side of a central core. Boring, but functional.

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  3. Seems to be a radiation boosted compact PUFF engine derivative, using a purposely less shielded reactor’s radiation to assist.

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  4. Can a dual purpose heat dissipation/radiation shielding system be created that uses plasma to collect the heat then inject it into a magnetic field around the ship that’s used as radiation shielding. Once the plasma has cooled down, it’s recollected to go back through to collect more heat.

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  5. Not seeing a lot of details here, and the company given the contract seems mostly focused on lower power stuff.

    I guess they just do engineering studies, not hardware?

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  6. Two opposing fins is probably the ideal configuration, since they can’t see each other, but the area can be increased arbitrarily. Fins like the ones shown are usually used on Earth to couple heat to air, not radiate it away.

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  7. [answers own question]
    No, fins can radiate on both sides. A cylinder should ony radiate outward to avoid reheating the engine core, so fins will have more surface area.
    But for argument if the fins could only radiate on one side, the cylinder wins.

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  8. Isn’t it all about surface area? Radiative is the only heat-rejection method available, and fins maximise radiating surface area compared to a cylinder of same radius. I imagine you don’t want the fins radiating toward each other either, which unfortunately this design has a lot of.
    Hmm. On that basis the optimal design is 4 fins, oriented orthogonally to not irradiate each other. So does a cylinder of given length and radius have more surface area than 4 fins of same dimensions?

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  9. Are radial fins really the best configuration to remove heat in space?

    As opposed to a cylinder of about the same radius, with high temperature heat pipes going out to it?

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