Brainy Quote of the Day

Sunday, June 30, 2013


Ion propulsion drive - NASA

CLEVELAND - A NASA advanced ion propulsion engine has successfully operated for more than 48,000 hours, or 5 and a half years, making it the longest test duration of any type of space propulsion system demonstration project ever.

The thruster was developed under NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Glenn manufactured the test engine's core ionization chamber. Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, Calif., designed and built the ion acceleration assembly.

The 7-kilowatt class thruster could be used in a wide range of science missions, including deep space missions identified in NASA's Planetary Science Decadal Survey.

This is a gridded electrostatic ion thruster, so it uses the Coulomb force to accelerate the Xenon ions in the direction of the electrostatic field. OK, it's not Warp Drive, but they are working on that too. Chemical rockets will not allow us to even explore the solar system in reasonable time spans, and we're too consumed with immediate gradification/ROI (return on investment) to stomach missions that could take months, decades or centuries - those being one-way trips obviously.

NASA: NASA Thruster Achieves World-Record 5+ Years of Operation

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