24/7 Space News
Marking 25 Years since Deep Space 1 kickstarted Ion propulsion
File image of NSTAR ion thruster for DS1 undergoing a hot fire test many years ago at JPL.
Marking 25 Years since Deep Space 1 kickstarted Ion propulsion
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 30, 2023

On Oct. 24, 1998, NASA launched the Deep Space 1 spacecraft. Managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Deep Space 1 served as a testbed for 12 new technologies, including solar electric, also known as ion propulsion, for use in future deep space and interplanetary missions. The spacecraft, the first in NASA's New Millennium program, flew by asteroid Braille and comet Borrelly, returning images and scientific data about the two small bodies.

The ion propulsion engine that Deep Space 1 successfully demonstrated allowed the Dawn spacecraft to explore the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres using that technology. The Psyche spacecraft currently on its way to explore the asteroid of the same name, also uses ion propulsion. Future programs such as Gateway will use ion propulsion to enable human lunar exploration. Deep Space 1 completed its mission on Dec. 18, 2001.

The 12 technologies Deep Space 1 tested included the ion propulsion system; the autonomous navigation system; an autonomous control system; a beacon system that sends simple tones to Earth to advise controllers of spacecraft health; a solar array with concentrator lenses; an integrated camera and imaging spectrometer; an integrated ion and electron spectrometer; a small deep-space transponder; a Ka-band solid-state power amplifier; low-power electronics; a multifunctional structure testing new packaging technology; and a power activation and switching module. Scientists also gathered data on whether the ion engine's plume interfered with any of the spacecraft's instruments. The ion engine used xenon gas as its propellant and obtained power from the spacecraft's high-efficiency solar arrays. Although providing low thrust overall, the engine achieved more thrust than any chemical engine.

The launch of Deep Space 1 took place atop a Delta II rocket on Oct. 24, 1998, from Launch Pad 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, now Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, in Florida. After entering an initial parking orbit around the Earth, the rocket's third stage boosted Deep Space 1 into solar orbit. The initial mission plan included demonstration of the new technologies and a flyby of asteroid 1992 KD, renamed 9969 Braille shortly before the spacecraft's encounter.

On Nov. 10, ground controllers commanded the ion engine to commence firing but it only operated for 4.5 minutes. They tried again on Nov. 24 with the spacecraft 3 million miles from Earth, and this time the engine firing succeeded, running for the planned 14 days. Over the next six months, the spacecraft successfully tested all 12 of its technology demonstrations, completing the activity in June 1999.

Due to an onboard computer crash shortly before the encounter, as well as the inability of the autonomous navigation system to lock onto the darker than expected asteroid, Deep Space 1's flyby of Braille on July 29, 1999, occurred at a distance of 16 miles instead of the planned 790 feet. Thus, the images the spacecraft returned did not show any detail, while other instruments provided good data. When the spacecraft's primary mission ended on Sept. 18, 1999, mission managers approved an extended mission to target a flyby of comet 19P/Borrelly. The spacecraft's star tracker failed on Nov. 11, 1999, putting the comet flyby in jeopardy.

Over the next five months, ground controllers built a new attitude control system that did not rely on the star tracker, and the flyby could proceed. Deep Space 1 entered comet Borrelly's coma on Sept. 22, 2001, and flew by its nucleus at a distance of 1,350 miles. The spacecraft provided the most detailed images of a comet's nucleus up to that time. Having operated well beyond its expected lifetime and with its attitude control fuel running low, ground controllers turned off the spacecraft on Dec. 18, 2001. Its ion propulsion engine had operated for 16,265 hours, far longer than any previous spacecraft, and provided a total velocity change of three miles per second, the largest achieved by any spacecraft with its own propulsion system.

The ion propulsion technology that Deep Space 1 demonstrated has found use in interplanetary uncrewed missions and will see use in future human lunar exploration. Launched in 2007, the Dawn spacecraft's ion propulsion system enabled it to explore two worlds between 2011 and 2018, the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres, entering orbit around each to conduct in-depth studies not otherwise possible.

The Psyche spacecraft, currently on its way to explore the asteroid of the same name, also uses ion propulsion. In the arena of future human space exploration, the Gateway, part of NASA-led Artemis missions to return astronauts to the Moon, will establish a human presence in lunar orbit. The Gateway's Power and Propulsion Element plans to use its Advanced Electric Propulsion System to arrive in lunar orbit and to maintain that orbit enabling regular astronaut visits.

Related Links
Deep Space 1 at NASA
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Pulsar Fusion forms partnership with University of Michigan for electric propulsion
London, UK (SPX) Aug 29, 2023
Electric propulsion, with a specific focus on Hall effect thrusters, has long been recognized as a foundational technology for space missions. Recognizing its potential, the UK Space Agency has recently announced a collaboration with the Plasma dynamics and Electric Propulsion Lab at the University of Michigan, one of the premier Hall thruster research centres worldwide. This international endeavor is further bolstered by the inclusion of renowned Hall thruster entities such as Pulsar Fusion from ... read more

SwRI's Dr. Alan Stern conducts space research during suborbital spaceflight aboard Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity

Workshop to highlight NASA's support for mobility, in-space servicing

Apollo astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly dies aged 87

NASA updates Commercial Crew planning manifest

SpaceX launches 23 Starlink Internet satellites after aborted mission

Hot summer for Europe's reusable rocket engine

Marking 25 Years since Deep Space 1 kickstarted Ion propulsion

SpinLaunch announces new leadership roles

Bewitched Battery: Sols 3994-3995

Estimating depositional timing on Mars using cosmogenic radionuclide data

Mars Climate Sounder data reveals new cloud trends, study shows

Scientists discover molten layer covering Martian core

Chinese astronauts return to Earth after 'successful' mission

New scientific experimental samples from China's space station return to Earth

Shenzhou XVI crew return after 'very cool journey'

Chinese astronauts return to Earth with fruitful experimental results

InSPA collaborates with multi-sector partners to fast-track space commercialization

New technologies for the future of European space

Follow NASA's Starling Swarm in Real Time

Fugro SpAARC's operations set to grow with new funding from Western Australian Govt

NASA's InSPA Aims to Stimulate Commercial Manufacturing in Low Earth Orbit

MDA acquires SatixFy's Digital Payload Division in $60 Million deal

ESA hones 3D Printed electromagnetic coils for spaceflight

NRL ISS Mission seeks new bioinspired materials

Scorching, seven-planet system revealed by new Kepler Exoplanet list

Giant planets cast a deadly pall

Jurassic worlds might be easier to spot than modern Earth

ET phone Dublin? Astrophysicists scan the Galaxy for signs of life

Salts and organics observed on Ganymede's surface by June

New jet stream discovered in Jupiter's upper atmosphere

Uranus aurora discovery offers clues to habitable icy worlds

How NASA is protecting Europa Clipper from space radiation

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.