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Keldysh Mars
Keldysh Mars

Credit: Jakob Terweij. 21,292 bytes. 673 x 196 pixels.

Class: Manned. Type: Mars Expedition. Nation: Russia. Manufacturer: Kurchatov, NII-TP.

By the 1980's test of the experimental RD-0410 nuclear thermal rocket engine had led to a definitive flight design. The design included bimodal use of the nuclear reactor to provide electrical power during dormant or cruise flight phases by means of a Brayton cycle turbine using xenon-helium coolant. The NPO Luch powerplant produced 20,000 kgf, with a thermal power of 1200 MW, operating time of 5 hours, and a specific impulse of between 815 and 927 seconds. During cruise operations the turbine would provide 50-200 kW of electric power, requiring 600 square meters of radiators. Two designs emerged using this a cluster of three to four of these engines with a total powerplant mass of 50 to 70 tonnes. The 1989 layout of the Kurchatov Institute surrounded the crew quarters with liquid hydrogen propellant tanks to shield the crew from radiation from the reactors and cosmic rays. The radiators were positioned at the nose of the spacecraft. A more detailed 1994 design from the Keldysh Institute / NII-TP placed the radiators forward of the engines, followed by communications antennae, the living quarters (again surrounded by propellant tanks), followed by two large landing craft (one for Mars, one for Earth) docked laterally at the nose. The crew of five would complete the trip to Mars and back in 460 days. Total time of thrusting engine operation for the 800 tonne, 84 m long craft was 6 hours.

Kurchatov Mars SpaceKurchatov Mars Space - Nuclear-thermal Mars expedition spacecraft as designed by the Kurchatov Institute in 1989.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 11,050 bytes. 640 x 176 pixels.

From fore to aft the spacecraft consisted of:

1994 NTR Mars Design1994 NTR Mars Design - Nuclear thermal Mars spacecraft design by NII-TP/Keldysh Institute.

15,000 bytes. 640 x 217 pixels.

Propellant made up about half of the total starting spacecraft mass.

Craft.Crew Size: 5. Design Life: 460 days. Total Length: 84.0 m. Maximum Diameter: 18.0 m. Total Mass: 800,000 kg. Total Payload: 400,000 kg. Primary Engine Thrust: 80,000 kgf. Main Engine Propellants: LH2. Main Engine Isp: 927 sec. Electric system: 200.00 total average kW. Electrical System: Nuclear thermal bi-modal.

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Last update 3 May 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .