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/