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Title: STUDY OF ELECTRIC PROPULSION SYSTEMS FOR SPACE TRAVEL. Interim Progress Report for July 1 to December 31, 1958

Abstract

The object of the one-year study is to assess the feasibility of obtaining a value of 0.10 kw/kg for specific power in a space environment and to recommend those avenues of research and development which appear most promising. In order to lay a proper foundation for an ion propulsion study it is necessary to determine the relationship among mission requirements, propulsionsystem specific power, and payload fraction. Some theoretical studies of a simple nature supplemented by some powered trajectory calculations on the IBM-704 were carried out. For a conventional power conversion system, an analysis of the Brayton cycle was carried out and compared to the Rankine cycle. Preliminary estimates have indicated that reactor -weight need not be a major factor unless the total power output is small and shielding is required for humans. A preliminary study of the direct conversion of heat into electricity as applied to space flight is presented. Thermoelectric and thermionlc methods are examined. The thermoelectric and high vacuum thermionic systems appear to have severe problems in their application to space propulsion. The space charge neutralized thermionic conventer shows considerably greater promise. Various methods are proposed for obtaining high efficiencies and longterm reliability. Using this form of convertermore » for space flight, a ratio of 1 kg/kw of weight of power source plus radiator to power output seems feasible. When a low sink temperature is available 50% efficiencies or greater appear attainable. Solar energy was studied and the basic facts which make the use of it unattractive for propulsion applications are the low value of the solar constant in the vicinity of the Earths' orbit and its decrease with the square of the distance from the Sun The basic concepts of thrust production by means of electrostatically accelerated ion beams are theoretically sound. Certain fundamental parameters are reviewed to determine whether it is practical on the basis of present knowledge to utilize the electrostatic thrust chamber to propel space vehicles. Very preliminary consideration was given 10 three advanced concepts for propulsion: magnetohydrodynamic generator-gaseous reactor; free piston reactor; and exploding wire thrust chamber. One possible application of low-thrust propulsive devices with high specific impulse is the perturbation of satellite orbits. The relationship among perturbation rate, payload fraction propulsion plant specific power, and propulsion plant lifetime is shown M.D.M.)« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
California. Univ., Livermore. Lawrence Radiation Lab.
OSTI Identifier:
4239838
Report Number(s):
UCRL-5478
NSA Number:
NSA-13-018247
DOE Contract Number:  
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: Orig. Receipt Date: 31-DEC-59
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
PHYSICS AND MATHEMATICS; BRAYTON CYCLE; COMPUTERS; CONVERSION; DISTANCE; EARTH; EFFICIENCY; ELECTRIC CHARGES; ELECTRICITY; ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS; ELECTROSTATICS; ENVIRONMENT; EXPLOSIONS; GASES; GENERATORS; IBM 704; ION BEAMS; IONS; LIFETIME; MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS; MAN; ORBITS; POWER; PRODUCTION; PROPULSION; PULSES; RADIATORS; RANKINE CYCLE; REACTORS; SATELLITES; SHIELDING; SPACE; SPACE CHARGE; SPACE FLIGHT; SPACE VEHICLES; SUN; THERMIONICS; THERMOELECTRICITY; THRUST; USES; VACUUM; VELOCITY; WEIGHT; WIRES

Citation Formats

Fox, R H. STUDY OF ELECTRIC PROPULSION SYSTEMS FOR SPACE TRAVEL. Interim Progress Report for July 1 to December 31, 1958. United States: N. p., 1959. Web.
Fox, R H. STUDY OF ELECTRIC PROPULSION SYSTEMS FOR SPACE TRAVEL. Interim Progress Report for July 1 to December 31, 1958. United States.
Fox, R H. Sun . "STUDY OF ELECTRIC PROPULSION SYSTEMS FOR SPACE TRAVEL. Interim Progress Report for July 1 to December 31, 1958". United States.
@article{osti_4239838,
title = {STUDY OF ELECTRIC PROPULSION SYSTEMS FOR SPACE TRAVEL. Interim Progress Report for July 1 to December 31, 1958},
author = {Fox, R H},
abstractNote = {The object of the one-year study is to assess the feasibility of obtaining a value of 0.10 kw/kg for specific power in a space environment and to recommend those avenues of research and development which appear most promising. In order to lay a proper foundation for an ion propulsion study it is necessary to determine the relationship among mission requirements, propulsionsystem specific power, and payload fraction. Some theoretical studies of a simple nature supplemented by some powered trajectory calculations on the IBM-704 were carried out. For a conventional power conversion system, an analysis of the Brayton cycle was carried out and compared to the Rankine cycle. Preliminary estimates have indicated that reactor -weight need not be a major factor unless the total power output is small and shielding is required for humans. A preliminary study of the direct conversion of heat into electricity as applied to space flight is presented. Thermoelectric and thermionlc methods are examined. The thermoelectric and high vacuum thermionic systems appear to have severe problems in their application to space propulsion. The space charge neutralized thermionic conventer shows considerably greater promise. Various methods are proposed for obtaining high efficiencies and longterm reliability. Using this form of converter for space flight, a ratio of 1 kg/kw of weight of power source plus radiator to power output seems feasible. When a low sink temperature is available 50% efficiencies or greater appear attainable. Solar energy was studied and the basic facts which make the use of it unattractive for propulsion applications are the low value of the solar constant in the vicinity of the Earths' orbit and its decrease with the square of the distance from the Sun The basic concepts of thrust production by means of electrostatically accelerated ion beams are theoretically sound. Certain fundamental parameters are reviewed to determine whether it is practical on the basis of present knowledge to utilize the electrostatic thrust chamber to propel space vehicles. Very preliminary consideration was given 10 three advanced concepts for propulsion: magnetohydrodynamic generator-gaseous reactor; free piston reactor; and exploding wire thrust chamber. One possible application of low-thrust propulsive devices with high specific impulse is the perturbation of satellite orbits. The relationship among perturbation rate, payload fraction propulsion plant specific power, and propulsion plant lifetime is shown M.D.M.)},
doi = {},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/4239838}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {1959},
month = {2}
}

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