New ion rocket engine NASA set a record time of




New ion rocket engine NASA set a record time of


Space agency NASA announced this week that it improved ion engine on the xenon works successfully for the past 48,000 hours, that is, for five and a half years. Without stopping! With such a long time of non-stop work project NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) now boasts a record of the long and successful testing of all is ever tested space engines.

NEXT – it electrorocket solar system in which electricity generated by solar panels spacecraft is supplied to power the ion engine of Class 7 kW. The principle of operation of such a motor is that the xenon gas is ionized and then accelerated by an electrostatic field, allowing to develop the spacecraft potential speed of 145,000 km / h Currently, similar engines, but less power is used, for example as part of NASA Dawn to explore Vesta and Ceres – one of the largest asteroids in the main asteroid belt and the closest to the Earth dwarf planet, respectively. Scientists are interested in further work on ion engines because of their high rate (compared to conventional chemical) efficiency.


So long non-stop testing NEXT ion engine is inside the vacuum chamber in the U.S. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. In December last year, the engine crossed the mark of 43,000 hours of operation. By the time they reach 48,000 hours, NEXT had time to process 870 kg of xenon, having developed a craving for which, at comparable tasks, it would take about 10 tons of conventional rocket fuel.

NASA hopes that the engine NEXT or its variations can be used to perform a variety of missions related to flying in deep space. Despite its size, which is several times smaller than a conventional rocket engine, a new ion accelerator has much more efficiently and economically, due to which it can operate for many years, and this enables the development of extremely high speed flight.

“NEXT engine running for more than 48,000 hours,” – says Michael J. Patterson, chief developer of the NEXT Center in Glen.

“We’re going to stop testing it on a recent day. He is still fully functional and has no faults. Its life and efficiency at a given time exceeds all requirements and expectations for any possible research mission. ”

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