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Advantages and disadvantages of Spacecraft Propulsion Systems

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of Spacecraft Propulsion Systems. It mentions advantages of Spacecraft Propulsion Systems and disadvantages of Spacecraft Propulsion System types viz. chemical, Electrical and Nuclear.

As mentioned there are three major types of propulsion systems.
➤Chemical Propulsion System: It uses chemical energy to produce gases at high temperature/pressure to produce thrust force.
➤Electrical Propulsion System: It uses electric energy to produce thrust force.
➤Nuclear propulsion System: It uses nuclear energy to heat gases and consecutively to produce thrust force.

Types of Propulsion Systems

Advantages of Chemical Spacecraft Propulsion System

Following are the advantages of Chemical Spacecraft Propulsion System of cold gas type:
➨ It is simple and reliable.
➨ It is lowest in cost compare to other systems.
➨ It has very low thrust and impulse bit capability.
➨ It has lower contamination of exhaust gases on spacecraft outer surface.

Disadvantages of Chemical Spacecraft Propulsion System

Following are the disadvantages of Chemical Spacecraft Propulsion System of cold gas type:
➨ It has low value of ISP about 950 Ns/Kg and low value of ISSP
about 70 Ns/Kg which results into higher system mass.

Advantages of Electrical Spacecraft Propulsion System

Following are the advantages of Electrical Spacecraft Propulsion System:
➨It offers very flexible layout and hence will have 30% reduction in volume compare to mechanical drive system.
➨It offers load diversity due to single central power generation.
➨It offers greater benefits to the environment due to reduction in fuel consumption by 14000 tons per year.
➨It generates less noise as electric motor has low vibration characteristics.
➨The system is designed to be highly automated and self monitoring.
➨It has very low emissions.
➨It offers flexibility in the space.
➨It offers safety.
➨It offers redundancy.

Disadvantages of Electrical Spacecraft Propulsion System

Following are the disadvantages of Electrical Spacecraft Propulsion System:
➨It is expensive system.
➨It has lesser efficiency compare to other systems.
➨It is complex system due to more equipments.

Advantages of Nuclear Spacecraft Propulsion System

Following are the advantages of Nuclear Spacecraft Propulsion System:
➨Higher Isp, thruster specific impulse (It is 2 to 10 times that of chemical system).
➨Lower Specific Mass in Kg/KW
➨Higher Power which allows high thrust.
➨Any propellants can be used.
➨It has reduced radiation for some of the missions.

Disadvantages of Nuclear Spacecraft Propulsion System

Following are the disadvantages of Nuclear Spacecraft Propulsion System:
➨High cost to develop or install nuclear reactor as well as to operate and maintain it.
➨Social issues
➨Reactor plants require very dense shielding to minimize radiation issues.
➨Lower readiness maturity level as per technology.

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