QUELLER drive: Q Uranium Enhanced Linear Long Endurance and Range Drive
Author: Theodore Mouratidis, PhD candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
What does it take to colonize Mars? In the same MIT graduate course which spawned the ARC high field fusion reactor design, students use and develop modern design tools to attack integrated design issues of a spacecraft which could carry out such a mission, in the Fall 2018 edition of the course. We focus on applying recent technological advances and scientific discoveries to this project, including high temperature superconductors (HTS), the discovery of substantial water and thorium on Mars, and improved performance of stabilized magnetic mirrors (Novosibirsk, Russia). A fusion-fission hybrid spacecraft is designed to be able to handle the requirements of transporting a very large payload to Mars for human colonization, while minimizing the travel time. The fusion plasma core is in the form of a linear mirror design, with a surrounding subcritical fission blanket with high multiplication to produce an overall system thermal power of . An MHD (Magnetohydrodynamic) generator is selected and optimized with an efficiency of to replace the standard turbine in a Brayton cycle for electricity generation on board. In order to reject the waste heat a carbon fiber radiator with a radius of is implemented. In addition to the magnetic mirror and the MHD generator, the toroidal rotating habitat also utilizes HTS to generate a magnetic field which will reduce radiation exposure to colonists to levels which will not cause long term genetic damage. After optimizing for payload and speed, we choose a design point with , favorable for the VASIMR propulsion system. This fusion-fission system is able to transport of payload from Low Earth orbit (LEO) to Low Mars Orbit (LMO) in days. With some inspiration from Space 1999, we name our spacecraft the QUELLER drive: Q Uranium Enhanced Linear Long Endurance and Range Drive. And so begins the colonization of Mars.