|Coordinatore||FONDATION EUROPEENNE DE LA SCIENCE
address: QUAI LEZAY MARNESIA 1
|Nazionalità Coordinatore||France [FR]|
|Totale costo||565˙903 €|
|EC contributo||495˙382 €|
Specific Programme "Cooperation": Space
|Anno di inizio||2013|
|Periodo (anno-mese-giorno)||2013-03-01 - 2014-08-31|
FONDATION EUROPEENNE DE LA SCIENCE
address: QUAI LEZAY MARNESIA 1
|FR (STRASBOURG CEDEX)||coordinator||117˙209.61|
NATIONAL NUCLEAR LABORATORY LIMITED
address: Daresbury Park - Daresbury 1100
State Scientific Centre of Russian Federation-Federal State Unitary Enterprise Keldysh Research Center
address: ONEZHSKAYA ULICA 8
DEUTSCHES ZENTRUM FUER LUFT - UND RAUMFAHRT EV
address: Linder Hoehe
CENTRE NATIONAL D'ETUDES SPATIALES - CNES
address: Place Maurice Quentin 2
THALES ALENIA SPACE ITALIA SPA
address: Via Saccomuro 24
Esplora la "nuvola delle parole (Word Cloud) per avere un'idea di massima del progetto.
'Space exploration is one of Europe’s priorities. Nuclear propulsion and power sources are “…essential and enabling key assets for a significant number of exploration missions…” (2005 European WG report on Nuclear Power Sources for Space) and can thus be considered as key technologies for deep-space exploration in Europe, Russia, and the USA. On the other hand, this technological development requires important financial efforts. Such a development should thus take place in the frame of an international collaboration as this has been the case, e.g. for the International Space Station. Among concepts that allow going to Mars are the very high power chemical propulsion or the nuclear propulsion. Megawatt level Nuclear-Electrical Propulsion is more interesting than chemical propulsion (higher payload ratio, cheaper in the long term, reduced launch mass and number of launchers, faster transit). Robotic science missions to the outer solar system could be used as test-beds and would benefit from this technology (faster missions or heavier payload), as well as surface power sources for In-Situ Resource Utilization and life support. The aim is to develop a European roadmap enabling such a program, taking advantage of each international partner's specific skills. The role of every partner will be based on its technical and economical capabilities, ambitions, interests and national policy. The objective is to set up an international network and adequate coordination means with future potential partners, leading to the establishment of a common roadmap involving all identified stakeholders, that will be driven by technological choices to suit long term objectives for space exploration. It will define common research objectives, draw-up research agenda and initiate research alliances. This project will help Europe invest in the research areas for which funding support will be particularly effective to ensure a key role for Europe in space exploration.'
Since the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007, the EU has the mandate to coordinate space activities in Europe. As the EU works towards this goal, researchers investigated the development of nuclear electric in-space propulsion systems that can go beyond the capabilities of conventional spacecraft.
Electric thrusters use electromagnetic radiation to heat up and ionise gas such as xenon or hydrogen. A magnetic nozzle directs the produced superheated plasma out the back, creating thrust. A nuclear electric spacecraft, with a nuclear core producing ~5-10MW of power, would be able to deliver either heavy cargo or astronauts to Mars orbit and back in a relatively short time and in a flexible way (trajectory wise).
Serious work on the concept of nuclear-powered spacecraft began in France and the United Kingdom in the 1980s. But, the former Soviet Union had launched multiple fission reactors between 1965 and 1987. The MEGAHIT (Megawatt Highly Efficient Technologies for Space Power and Propulsion Systems for Long-duration Exploration Missions) project had, therefore, as its second objective to create a European community including Russia to power a manned Mars mission and sample return from giant planets.
Building a roadmap for the development of such in-space propulsion systems was the first objective of the project MEGAHIT. A nuclear reactor as a power source is not a new concept in space, but Europe has not flown a nuclear-powered spacecraft to date.
The consortium formalised a technology plan for the development of such a nuclear-powered spacecraft. Together with the roadmap for low- and medium-power systems prepared within the project http://www.dipop.eu/ (DIPOP), MEGAHIT's International Nuclear Power and Propulsion System (INPPS) roadmap offers a pathway to advance Europe's current capabilities.
Potential collaboration opportunities with space-faring nations were explored. It is a long-range technology development activity, but part of Europe's mission architecture for deep-space exploration is to use nuclear powered spacecraft. Follow-on projects from the MEGAHIT project are expected to generate specific initiatives in robotic exploration of our solar system and human spaceflight.
The EU H2020 project http://www.h2020-democritos.eu (DEMOCRITOS) is following up on several of the highlighted technology demonstrators of the MEGAHIT INPPS technology roadmap.