Discovery II

The “Discovery II”

A fusion powered vehicle for piloted exploration of the outer solar system.

This visualisation is based on information found in the NASA publication
(doc id 20050160960) titled:

“Realizing ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’: Piloted Spherical Torus Nuclear Fusion Propulsion”

Author(s) and Affiliation:

Williams, Craig H. (NASA Glenn Research Center)
Dudzinski, Leonard A.(NASA Glenn Research Center)
Borowski, Stanley K. (NASA Glenn Research Center)
Juhasz, Albert J. (NASA Glenn Research Center)

PDF available here:


A conceptual vehicle design enabling fast, piloted outer solar system travel was created predicated on a small aspect ratio spherical torus nuclear fusion reactor. The initial requirements were satisfied by the vehicle concept, which could deliver a 172 mt crew payload from Earth to Jupiter rendezvous in 118 days, with an initial mass in low Earth orbit of 1,690 mt.

Engineering conceptual design, analysis, and assessment was performed on all major systems including artificial gravity payload, central truss, nuclear fusion reactor, power conversion, magnetic nozzle, fast wave plasma heating, tankage, fuel pellet injector, startup/re-start fission reactor and battery bank, refrigeration, reaction control, communications, mission design, and space operations.

Detailed fusion reactor design included analysis of plasma characteristics, power balance/utilization, first wall, toroidal field coils, heat transfer, and neutron/x-ray radiation. Technical comparisons are made between the vehicle concept and the interplanetary spacecraft depicted in the motion picture 2001: A Space Odyssey.

3D Modelling and Animation:
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Images courtesy NASA

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