Future space power requirements will vary from the subkilowatt range for deep space probes, to the hundreds of kilowatts range for a lunar base, to the multimegawatt range for interplanetary propulsion systems. Closed Brayton cycle (CBC) power conversion has the flexibility to be used in all these power ranges and with a variety of heat source options such as isotope, solar, and nuclear. Each of these types of heat sources has different characteristics that make it more appropriate for particular mission profiles and power output ranges. Heat source characteristics can also be major design drivers in the closed Brayton cycle design optimization process.
This paper explores heat source selection, the resulting CBC system designs, and discusses optimization methods as a function of the main design drivers. Such power system requirements as power level, man-rated radiation shielding, fuel costs, eclipse/darkness duration, system mass, radiator area, reliability/mission duration, and insolation level are evaluated through several CBC parametric case studies. These cases include:
(1) A 500 We power system for deep space probes,
(2) A 50 kWe solar dynamic system for earth orbit and other applications,
(3) A 100 kWe man-rated lunar/Mars stationary/rover power system,
(4) A 200 to 825 kWe power system for the lunar outpost, and
(5) 3300 kWe modules for interplanetary propulsion.