Design optimisation and analysis of very high power transportation system to Mars

Christie Maddock, Ben Parsonage, Lorenzo Angelo Ricciardi, Massimiliano Vasile, Orr Cohen

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This paper presents a preliminary design for a crewed transportation system to Mars, looking at both the vehicle and mission design trade-offs. The mission requirements are for a return mission to Mars, with a variable stay time on/around the planet. The vehicle is designed for a minimum crew of 3 plus 50 t cargo, and assumes in-orbit assembly and re-fueling options. A nominal vehicle design was developed using a bimodal nuclear propulsion system. A multi-objective optimisation was run examining the trade-offs between flight times, and total duration, for different Mars stay times, planetary conjunction angles, dry masses and engine sizing, and the mission trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021
Event72nd International Astronautical Congress - Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 25 Oct 202129 Oct 2021


Conference72nd International Astronautical Congress
Abbreviated titleIAC 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Arab Emirates
Internet address


  • nuclear propulsion
  • Mars mission
  • design optimisation
  • mission analysis


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