Perminov: Mars Trips Could Take 2-4 Months With Nuclear Propulsion

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov


The attempts to improve parameters of the existing rocket propulsion systems are unreasonable, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov stated, questioned by news media during the International Astronautical Congress in Prague.

“No matter, how many experts in the world, and no matter how much they work, they would provide maximum improvement of any existing propulsion which is measured in a fraction of percent only. The most has been made of the available propulsions – liquid or solid-propellant. Any attempt to improve the thrust or momentum is hopeless,” the Head of the Russian Federal Space Agency said.

On the other hand, he believes, nuclear propulsion is able to improve these parameters significantly:

“To make an example of a mission to Mars. With the current propulsion it takes 1.5-2 years, with the nuclear one it would be 2-4 months.”

According to Perminov, an alternative option may appear in the future, but the current technologies do not provide it.

He added that nuclear propulsion systems are considered for large-scale human missions, not for small spacecraft which could use other type of propulsion – ionic engines or solar wind energy.

Roscosmos Head reminded that heavy and super-heavy-lift launchers were being developed in Russia. These are to fly from new space port Vostochny.

“Development and evolution of the new space port in the Far East imply several milestones. The first one covers development of the Rus-M rocket to be used to launch spacecraft, cargo supply and possibly human space vehicles. This milestone to last from 2015 to 2020, is to include launches as well,” Perminov explained.

He added the 50-60-t launcher of heavy class would appear in 2020s, and the superheavy (150t)- in around 2030.

Perminov said that the new launchers might be tested in flight from Baikonur first.

“Baikonur is located at the territory of Kazakhstan, which is under renting by Russia till 2050. I am sure that we will continue using this port for Soyuz, Zenith, Proton launches until this date. We will continue using this systems, and building the new space port in parallel,” Roscosmos Head stated.