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Glenn Powers Ahead With Ion Engine
A giant leap toward enabling high power electric propulsion was recently demonstrated. With power levels up to 72 kW and nearly 3 Newtons of thrust, NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, has designed, built and successfully tested a 50 kW-class Hall thruster.
Designated the NASA-457M, this new Hall thruster has shown more than a factor of ten increase in the power and thrust levels over state-of-the-art Hall systems. "This accomplishment strengthens Glenn's world class leadership in Hall thruster research and development," asserts Robert Jankovsky, Hall thruster team lead.
Such a high power propulsion device will revolutionize the next generation of spacecraft; halving launch costs for ambitious NASA missions, enabling future NASA missions to other planets, and more than doubling commercial payload masses to geostationary orbit. Applications for the Hall thruster include moving heavy payloads and more rapid travel into outer space. When compared to ion thrusters, Hall thrusters are of greater benefit to near-Earth orbit missions, because they have greater levels of thrust to counter the forces of gravity of celestial bodies, like the Earth.
The NASA-457M is the largest Hall thruster ever built and tested. This effort has significantly enhanced understanding of Hall thruster scaling and will lead to the use of high power Hall thruster propulsion in future space missions.
Results and findings of the Hall thruster's recent tests were discussed yesterday at the 38th American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Joint Propulsion Conference in Indianapolis.
Glenn Research Center
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Teams To Lead New Ion Engine Project Selected
Washington - June 27, 2002
NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington today announced the selection of a team for the development of an advanced ion propulsion system - an alternative to conventional chemical propulsion that could revolutionize the way we send science missions into the solar system. A second team was selected to develop advanced ion optics, which are critical components of ion engines.