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  • Disruptive Technologies for Power and Propulsion (DiPoP) Fission Nuclear Options

    Paper number



    Mr. Richard Blott, Space Enterprise Partnerships Limited, United Kingdom


    Mr. Christophe Koppel, KopooS Consulting Ind, France


    Dr. Dominique Valentian, France


    Dr. Frank Jansen, Institute of Aerospace Systems, Germany


    Dr. Claudio Ferrari, SME, Italy


    Prof. Claudio Bruno, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, United States


    Prof.Dr. Georg Herdrich, Institute of Space Systems, Germany


    Mr. Roland Antonius Gabrielli, Institute of Space Systems, Universität Stuttgart, Germany



    The Disruptive Technologies for Power and Propulsion (DiPoP) Study reviewed advanced space technologies for large interplanetary missions of interest to Europe taking account of European industry capabilities.  These included surface power generation, high power instruments, large robotic missions to outer planets, asteroid deflection missions and longer term interplanetary manned missions. The propulsion applications involve high speed increments, generally beyond the capability of chemical propulsion (except if gravitational swing-by can be used).  For missions beyond Mars orbit fission nuclear energy sources become competitive with solar panels.
    Both fission nuclear thermal (NTP) and nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) were considered.  NTP high thrust levels may offer the only means of asteroid deflection by direct impact following late detection.  However with sufficient advanced warning the greater control from NEP relatively low thrust deflection over a period of time is a lower risk option.  
    For NEP two electrical power levels have been considered: 30 kW and 200 kW.
    The lowest power level (30 kW) is more suited to surface energy source (Moon or Mars manned base) or to relatively small automatic platforms. The 200 kW power level is more suited to heavy robotic missions, including asteroid deflection.
    The public acceptance of these new technologies has been analysed, showing the necessity to provide safe ground testing facilities as well as a mission scenario excluding re-entry of an activated space nuclear reactor.
    The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°284081 for the Disruptive Technologies for Power and Propulsion (DiPoP) Study
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-13,C4,7-C3.5,4,x20099.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.