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Conceptual Mars mission using 3 VASIMR engines

This is NASA's conceptual human mission to Mars using 3 plasma rockets (VASIMR), 3 nuclear reactors (similar to the reactors used on nuclear submarines). The reactors are extended on booms in order to minimize the amount of shielding required to shield the spacecraft. The large fuel tanks would provide shielding astronauts against radiation from the Van Allen belts during the Earth departure phase and also against cosmic radiation once outside the influence of Earth's magnetic field. An electric propulsion thruster such as VASIMR would provide a faster travel time compared to using chemical rockets. The VASIMR engines would speed up the spacecraft towards Mars and then slow down the spacecraft once past the half way point from Earth to Mars. Ion engines in general provide a low amount of thrust (up to several Newtons or tens of Newtons), but do so for many hours or months. In this way, a spacecraft with a given mass can continually speed up and attain velocities much higher than with chemical rockets. A mission to Mars using plasma propulsion would also have an abort capability should something go wrong early on in the mission, chemical rockets do not provide for this contingency.
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