Atmospheric Mining in the Outer Solar System: University Studies of Mining Vehicles and Propulsion

Bryan Palaszewski
2010 46th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit   unpublished
Voice (216) 433-5802 FAX bryan.a.palaszewski@nasa.gov Fuels and Space Propellants Web Site: http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/Fuels-And-Space-Propellants/foctopsb.htm Atmospheric mining in the outer solar system has been investigated as a means of fuel production for high energy propulsion and power. Fusion fuels such as Helium 3 (3He) and hydrogen can be wrested from the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune and either returned to Earth or used in-situ for energy production. In 2009, a series of
more » ... a series of university design studies were undertaken to investigate aspects of atmospheric mining in the outer solar system. Helium 3 and hydrogen were the primary gases of interest with hydrogen being the primary propellant for nuclear thermal or nuclear fusion rocket-based atmospheric flight. Four teams addressed issues associated with atmospheric cruiser-based and balloon-based mining vehicles. Two additional teams focused on mining of an outer planet moon for helium 3 and hydrogen. Many of the cruiser designs were effective in gathering helium 3 in less than 1 year. Additional supporting analyses were conducted to illuminate vehicle sizing and orbital transportation issues.
doi:10.2514/6.2010-6573 fatcat:gdqj6ke76rh6joryrg62ecyaqq