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Pulsed plasma rocket development accelerates manned missions to Mars
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Pulsed plasma rocket development accelerates manned missions to Mars
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) May 02, 2024

Advancements in space technology may soon allow humans and cargo to travel to Mars efficiently and quickly. Existing spacecraft require significant velocities due to the vast distances in space, necessitating propulsion systems with both high thrust and high specific impulse. Current technologies fall short of these requirements.

Howe Industries is developing a propulsion system capable of achieving up to 100,000 N of thrust and a specific impulse of 5,000 seconds. The Pulsed Plasma Rocket (PPR), an evolution of the Pulsed Fission Fusion concept, offers simplicity, affordability, and exceptional performance. This system could shorten manned Mars missions to two months and allows for heavier, better-protected spacecraft, minimizing crew exposure to cosmic radiation. Additionally, the PPR has potential applications for missions to the Asteroid Belt and the 550 AU solar gravitational lensing point.

The NIAC Phase I study explored using a large, heavily shielded spacecraft for human and cargo transportation to Mars, focusing on system neutronics, spacecraft and power system design, magnetic nozzle functionality, and trajectory benefits. The forthcoming Phase II aims to enhance engine design, conduct component experiments, and finalize the ship design for shielded human Mars missions.

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