Aerojet Rocketdyne Advocates Solar Electric Propulsion as Central Element of Deep Space Exploration
During testimony before the Subcommittee on Space in the
SEP systems have between 6 and 10 times the propellant efficiency (specific impulse) of traditional chemical propulsion systems. More than 200 commercial, civil, national security and defense spacecraft are currently flying SEP for stationkeeping, repositioning and orbit-raising.
Cassady emphasized the need to take advantage of strategic logistics planning in the journey to Mars. He used the analogy of military deployment to the SEP approach for Mars cargo, saying, "Heavy equipment, supplies, and other logistical items are pre-deployed by large cargo ships and planes to the region. Then, once the equipment, barracks, etcetera are ready, the troops follow by faster air transport. SEP systems are equivalent to cargo ships for deep space missions."
Approximately 75 percent of the mass required for human missions to Mars can be transported using SEP, thereby reducing the number of launches required. Additionally, the SEP systems under development now by NASA and
"As NASA looks to expand human presence in the solar system, starting with missions to lunar orbit and onto Mars, development of efficient in-space transportation systems is critical," added Cassady. "We are well on our way to having efficient in-space transportation with SEP. We must continue to adequately fund these development efforts to ensure that we will have the first human footprints on Mars in the 2030s."
Glenn Mahone, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 202-302-9941 Glenn.Mahone@Rocket.com Mary Engola, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 571-289-1371 Mary.Engola@Rocket.com
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