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NASA Just Announced It's Building An Electric Propulsion System To Take Us Into Deep Space

We went to Moon and some countries are already planning to colonize the moon but if we want to travel the rest of the Universe, we will need better spacecraft. Keeping that in mind, NASA has just presented a US$67 million agreement to build a new electric propulsion system that could eventually take us much deeper into the cosmos. This electric propulsion system work on an easy principle, instead of chemical propellant, electricity is used to move the spacecraft.

 Image: NASA

The technology is scheduled to be verified on a large scale in a forthcoming Asteroid Redirect mission, which ultimately aims to search for the techniques we could use to deflect an asteroid directed towards Earth, together with a crewed journey to Mars, scheduled for around 2030. You all are familiar with Tesla motors and how they work on the principal of electricity and now our spaceships are going to operate in the same way. To make this happen, solar panels will be used to generate an electric charge (apparently, cloud shield is not a problem in outer space), and the used propellant will be ionized by means of the gathered electricity.

Conning electrons in a magnetic field produce positively charged ions which are then accelerated out of the vessel to generate thrust.

Electric propulsion is not exactly a new technology. According to NASA, it's been working on this technology for more than 50 years, but as with any technology, it needs to build cost-effective, entirely safe, and firm before it can be utilized practically in a mission. By giving the new three-year contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA is confident to accelerate the process.

NASA said, "Work performed under the contract could potentially boost spaceflight transportation fuel efficiency  10 times over present chemical propulsion technology and more than twice thrust capability compared to present electric propulsion systems,"

In order further explore the Universe; the use of less fuel is vital. Aerojet Rocketdyne will work on a prototype made by NASA to achieve a thruster, power processing unit (PPU), low-pressure xenon flow controller, and electrical harness. Xenon is widely used as a propellant in ion propulsion structures because of the relative ease with which it can be ionized.

Currently, NASA's Dawn Mission spacecraft is also working with solar-electric propulsion, but as The International Business Times reports, the thrusters being built by Aerojet are designed to be nearly five times more powerful.



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