Subsystem Technology and Design Library

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General References

  • NASA Space Vehicle Design Criteria, SP-8000 Good introductory references for spacecraft subsystem and mission design; may be somewhat outdated with regard to specific technologies due to publication dates (1960s and 1970s)

Structures and Materials

Inflatable Habitat Structures


Rocket and Spacecraft Propulsion

Chemical Propulsion

Advanced Propulsion

General Electric Propulsion

General Nuclear Propulsion

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP)

Solar Electric Propulsion

Nuclear Pulse Propulsion

Nuclear pulse propulsion as a means of achieving very high specific impulses (several thousand s) and high thrust at the same time was explored extensively during the 1950s and 1960s as part of Project Orion in the United States. Potential applications of nuclear pulse propulsion systems included human exploration of all parts of the solar system.

The following book by George Dyson (son of Freeman Dyson, one of the developers of Project Orion) provides an overview of Project Orion in its historical context:

The following documents provide an overview of the technical capabilities of nuclear pulse propulsion systems:

Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMIR)

Solar Sailing

Conceptual Future Propulsion

Fusion and Antimatter Propulsion

Beamed power propulsion

Space Elevator

While not a form of rocket propulsion, the space elevator can still be classified as a means of propelling payloads into an orbit (in particular into geostationary orbit). The following is a selection of important references concerning space elevator design feasibility, economics, and operational risks:

Electrical Power System (EPS)

The EPS provides the functions: electrical power generation, storage, management, and distribution.

General EPS references

Primary and Secondary Battery Systems

Photovoltaic Power Generation

Radioisotope Power Generation

Fission Power Generation

Fuel Cell Systems

EPS Design Studies

Mars Surface Power System Design Studies

EPS Models

Under construction...

Thermal Control (TC)

Environmental Control & Life Support System (ECLSS)

General ECLSS References

  • US Navy Diving Manual - Volume 1: Air Diving, NAVSEA 0994-LP-001-9010, Revision 1, June 1985, Navy Department Washington, D.C.

ECLSS Technologies

Atmosphere Revitalization

Water Management

Food Management

Waste Management

Under construction...

Atmosphere Thermal Conditioning

Under construction...

Integrated ECLSS Design Studies / Tests

Crew Systems

Avionics / Astrionics

Guidance, Navigation & Control (GN&C)

Planetary Entry, Descent & Landing (EDL)

  • NASA Technical Note D-4098 [Harris, August 1967] Aerodynamic Characteristics of a Spherically Blunted 25 Degree Cone at a Mach Number of 20
  • Mars Exploration Entry, Descent and Landing Challenges (PDF) [Braun RD, Manning RM, 2006] Excellent paper providing an overview of existing Mars EDL systems and technology (primarily based on Viking heritage), limitations to extending this technology, and a summary of the challenges for human-scale Mars EDL.

In-Situ Resource Utilization and Manufacturing

In-Situ Propellant Production

In-Situ Manufacturing