Nuclear fusion powered Titan aircraft

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.

This article is free to access.


This paper discusses a system for Titan exploration enabled by nuclear fusion power. Titan is one of the most interesting locations in the solar system with a thick atmosphere, surface oceans, under-ice oceans and complex terrain. This paper provides a conceptual design of a fusion-powered system to explore many parts of Titan and enable the use of high-power instruments. The design includes a fusion-powered orbital transfer vehicle and an electric Titan science aircraft. A Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) propulsive engine could bring a sizable spacecraft to Titan orbit in less than two years. A second fusion reactor, configured as a closed-loop power generator, would be used for an electric Titan science aircraft. Both reactors are based on the Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration (PFRC) concept which combines an FRC with a magnetic mirror. PFRC uses a novel radio-frequency plasma heating system and deuterium-helium-3 fuel. A lower temperature plasma flows around the closed-field FRC region removing the fusion products. In the DFD propulsive configuration, this secondary flow permits direct and variable thrust and exhaust velocity. The science aircraft would do a powered entry to Titan and then have the capability to fly anywhere on the moon at subsonic speeds. The DFD-powered transfer vehicle would allow the in-orbit transfer stage to change inclination as needed to cover different areas of the surface.




Paluszek, M., Price, A., Koniaris, Z., Galea, C., Thomas, S., Cohen, S., & Stutz, R. (2023). Nuclear fusion powered Titan aircraft. Acta Astronautica, 210, 82–94.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free