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Hermes from 'The Martian', rear view

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This is the hot end of the spaceship Hermes in Mars orbit. The reactor, producing 10 MW thermal energy, is the rear-most part. Radiation protection is provided in forward direction only by a disc-shaped shield casting a 'radiaton shadow'.

Adjacent is the Brayton power conversion unit, producing electrical energy from heat. It provides electrical power to the ion engines and the onboard systems. 

The heat exchangers' large wings shed the excess heat of the coolant fluid. The wings are arranged to stay in the shadow of the shield to avoid the reactors radiation. Whenever possible the spacecraft points the heat exchangers edge-on to the sun, to maximize their efficiency.

For docking Hermes shall only be approached from the front, as all other directions outside of the shadow cone are exposed to the reactors radiation.


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This is a bit random, but I was wondering how much protection a radiation 'shadow-shield' would protect a retrofiring rocket.  Your design is brilliant in that during the Mars orbit capture there is no point when the radiator is in the same direction of their trajectory, but I see on other designs the shadow shield being in front of the engine.

Love the ship, mate!  Wish this was the version that had gotten into the movie.  Also, watching it become 'unpacked' during its maiden flight would be something to see.  :)