Going to Mars with Direct Fusion Drive

We developed a round trip mission to Mars using Direct Fusion Drive. Key parameters are:

  • Specific power of 1.2 kW/kg
  • Exhaust velocity of 110 km/s
  • 40 MW engine
  • Payload of 55 MT out, 40 MT return
  • Outward leg 128 days
  • Inward leg 110 days
  • Stay on Mars 650 days

The following plot shows the trajectory. Some additional time would be needed to enter and exit the Mars and Earth’s orbit. That could be shortened by using a nuclear thermal engine tug.

The payload is based on the NASA Deep Space Habitat. It could be replaced by a less massive habitat and a lander. Two spacecraft, one including a lander, is another possibility. A dual spacecraft mission would enhance safety.

This mission plan has the DFD decelerating the spacecraft and going into Mars orbit. Some time could be saved using aerodynamic braking. The mass of the aeroshell would need to be included as part of the “engine” mass.

This analysis was done using the Spacecraft Control Toolbox http://www.psatellite.com/products/sct/

This entry was posted in General by Michael Paluszek. Bookmark the permalink.

About Michael Paluszek

Michael Paluszek is President of Princeton Satellite Systems. He graduated from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering in 1976 and followed that with an Engineer's degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT in 1979. He worked at MIT for a year as a research engineer then worked at Draper Laboratory for 6 years on GN&C for human space missions. He worked at GE Astro Space from 1986 to 1992 on a variety of satellite projects including GPS IIR, Inmarsat 3 and Mars Observer. In 1992 he founded Princeton Satellite Systems.

6 thoughts on “Going to Mars with Direct Fusion Drive

  1. So, when heating to extreme degrees the plasma will generate enough ionic load to take off, when leaving the atmosphere, how will it keep the course fixed? Does the earth’s magnetic attraction have any impact, or is the polarity reversed?

  2. How are you going to master the flow of energy? Because I think that propulsion wouldn’t catch up with them for a round trip.
    You would need to have greater strength for ionic loads, I would like to study at MIT what can I do to achieve it? I’m from El Salvador.
    Good luck, you’ll need it.

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