The A.C. Clarke – A Nuclear Thermal Rocket Mars Transfer Vehicle

The A.C. Clarke, a Nuclear-Thermal Piloted Mars Transfer Vehicle

Based on Publication AIAA-2014-3623

Conventional and Bimodal Nuclear Thermal Rocket NTR Artificial Gravity Mars Transfer Vehicle Concepts

by Stanley K. Borowski, David R. McCurdy and Thomas W. Packard
NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

Quote from the document…

As mentioned in the Introduction, the motivation for selecting NTP as the propulsion system of choice for Mars is simple – it is a proven technology with a specific impulse that is twice that of today’s best chemical rockets.

During the Rover / NERVA programs 1955-1972, a technology readiness level TRL~5-6 was achieved.

Twenty rocket reactors were designed, built and ground tested in integrated reactor/engine tests that demonstrated:

1. A wide range of thrust levels ~25, 50, 75 and 250 klb
2. High temperature carbide-based nuclear fuels that provided hydrogen exhaust temperatures up to 2550 K achieved in Pewee
3. Sustained engine operation – over 62 minutes for a single burn achieved in the NRX-A6, as well as…
4. Accumulated lifetime at full-power, and…
5. Restart capability greater than 2 hours, with 28 startup and shutdown cycles achieved in the NRX-XE experimental engine

…all the requirements needed for a human Mars mission.

….end quote.

For more information, visit the glorious Atomic Rockets website:


3D Models and animation © fragomatik 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Some assets, images and textures courtesy NASA


Dark Fog by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (…)

NOTE: Apologies for the mis-spelling of “Arthur C. Clarke”. It was incorrectly spelled in the source document and original renderings from NASA. Future versions (if any) will be corrected.

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