Using Daedalus for Local Transport

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B. Parkinson (2009), JBIS, 62, 422-426

Refcode: 2009.62.422
Keywords: Helium-3, Project Daedalus, pulsed fusion, interplanetary missions, asteroid deflection

The Project Daedalus study proposed acquiring the large amounts of 2D and 3He required for its pulsed fusion propulsion system by “sky mining” the atmosphere of Jupiter. This in turn would have required assembling 22,800 tonnes of hardware in the vicinity of Jupiter - a major transportation task in its own right. Use of the pulsed fusion propulsion system for moving large masses or achieving high Vs within the Solar System was therefore a necessary precursor to mounting an interstellar mission. A suggestion has been made that 3He recovered from lunar regolith might be used as a source of propellant for these precursor missions. Using the Daedalus 2nd stage engine as a reference, the performance of a number of missions including fast transfers to the outer planets and deflection of hazardous asteroids has been examined. Even though the demands of these missions are quite small in comparison to Daedalus, the energy demands in extracting the required amounts of 3He from the lunar regolith are still enormous. In addition there is no requirement for maximizing the specific impulse for these missions. It is concluded that other, easier fusion reactions would adequately service these missions at a very much reduced effort.


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