It’s the most powerful ion engine ever.  It has passed a critical test, and now it’s time to use it

Its power is 12 kilowatts, which practically means it can power 1,330 LEDs. As Clayton Caccelli, NASA’s AEPS project manager, explains, we’re talking about next-generation technology. The development of such an engine should allow faster and more efficient exploration of deep space.

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If humanity seriously thinks about exercising Manned flights To Mars, let alone distant objects in the solar system, a reliable and efficient engine would certainly be crucial. The practical possibilities of this solution should be presented soon.

This is due to the planned Gateway space station. There are plans to install three AEPS thrusters on the power and propulsion element of the NASA station. Their use will ensure the maintenance of the Gateway’s specified orbit around the Moon, and fast communications and power supplies for the entire facility. Since the plan is to put the station into orbit in 2025, there is not much time left to achieve this goal.

The AEPS ion engine will be used, among other things, in NASA’s mission to put the Gateway station into orbit.

The characteristic blue exhaust gases are produced during AEPS operation from ionized xenon gas. While conventional engines use liquid fuel to generate momentum, gas is used here, thanks to which the power produced is less, but the engine itself lasts longer and should be especially useful during long-term space missions.

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Interestingly, in the past NASA Ion engines are already in use. Suffice it to mention the fact that the Dawn mission targeted objects such as Ceres and Vesta. In contrast, in the case of the Psyche mission, solar and electric propulsion were used. Launching on October 13, the planned flight will cover a route of 3.6 billion kilometres. It will soon be time to see how AEPS compares to Gateway space station operation.

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