1. Methane may power future manned mission spacecraft to Mars

Methane may power future manned mission spacecraft to Mars

Scientists are planning to develop new next-generation rocket engines that will help getting mass to Mars and Moon.

By: | Published: June 2, 2015 10:09 AM

Scientists are planning to develop new next-generation rocket engines that will help getting mass to Mars and Moon.

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has been awarded a 5 million dollars grant from NASA to develop rocket engines using liquid methane. The methane-based rocket technology would be used for in-space propulsion and ascent and descent engines for Mars and lunar landers.

Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering Ahsan Choudhuri said that liquid methane, a new form of green propellant, was a promising fuel for spacecraft.

The research would be led by UTEP’s NASA-funded Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR).

The development of methane rocket engines had been identified as a critically enabling technology in the NASA Space Technology Roadmap.

Human-Mars mission architectures pointed to liquid oxygen-liquid methane (LO2/CH4) economy utilizing common reactants, created from scavenging the atmosphere and land via In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). Due to the very high cost of getting mass to Mars, it was critical that the destination vehicles (e.g. landers) be very mass and volume efficient.

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