[extropy-chat] Fly Me to the Moon

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Sun Jun 5 10:23:00 UTC 2005

On 6/5/05, Mike Lorrey <mlorrey at yahoo.com> wrote:
> This is wrong. Ion thrusters have been in use since the 1970's on
> non-American spacecraft. Deep Space 1 was the first deep space craft
> whose primary propulsion was an ion engine.

SMART-1's Ion Drive: From Fiction to Fact (launched Sept 2003) 
SMART-1, the European Space Agency craft currently in orbit around the
moon, makes use of a technology that was pure science fiction until
the 1960s - the ion drive. An ion drive is a method of propulsion that
uses electricity to create charged ions and then accelerate them with
a magnetic field, pushing them out the rear of a spacecraft.
SMART-1 has a stationary plasma thruster using xenon gas with 1190
watts of power available, giving a nominal thrust of 68 mN. The
spacecraft contains 48 liters of xenon gas at 150 bar. The lifetime of
the thruster is 7,000 hours at maximum power. The thrust is equivalent
to two pennies resting in the palm of your hand.

Good article on Electric Spacecraft Propulsion
Geostationary communications satellites have used electric propulsion
systems for station keeping since the early nineteen-eighties. Low
Earth orbit satellites, such as the Iridium mobile communications
cluster, have also used electric propulsion for orbit adjustments but
the use of electric propulsion as a spacecraft's primary means of
propulsion has been restricted to experimental vehicles such as NASA's
Deep Space One, which was equipped with a xenon ion engine.


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