Journal of Astronautics ›› 2018, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (11): 1197-1208.doi: 10.3873/j.issn.1000-1328.2018.11.002

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Manned Mars Exploration Concept Using Nuclear Thermal Propulsion System

YANG Bin, TANG Sheng yong, LI Shuang, XIA Chen chao   

  1. 1. College of Astronautics, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Nanjing 210016, China; 2. Aerospace System Engineering Shanghai, Shanghai 201109, China
  • Received:2018-03-22 Revised:2018-07-11 Online:2018-11-15 Published:2018-11-25


A manned Mars exploration concept based on the nuclear thermal propulsion is proposed for China’s future Mars exploration. Firstly, the transfer trajectories suitable for different types of missions are designed using Pork-Chop. Secondly, according to the mission requirements, the spacecraft is designed by referring to the space station technical standards. Thirdly, the number and thrust of the nuclear thermal engines in the propulsion system are optimized to ensure that they can complete the mission with low costs and high reliability. The optimal solutions of the propulsion system are obtained for long-term and short-term Mars missions. Finally, the processes of the different manned Mars exploration missions are described in detail. The content of this article provides a useful reference for China’s future manned Mars exploration missions.

Key words: Mars exploration, Nuclear thermal propulsion, Manned mission, Mission architecture

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