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NASA successfully tests futuristic ion engine

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Murky, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. Murky

    Murky Deity

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    Link.

    This is an interesting development. Soon we'll be able to explore the solar system in whole new ways and answer some age old questions.
     
  2. Turner

    Turner Deity Retired Moderator

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    Again? I posted on this a couple years ago.
     
  3. Murky

    Murky Deity

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    Sorry, I was thinking it was more recent for some reason. :blush:
     
  4. Turner

    Turner Deity Retired Moderator

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    Okay, it wasn't me, it was Curt. And it wasn't developed, but it was in development.

    Thread in question.

    Sorry about that.
     
  5. Masquerouge

    Masquerouge Deity

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    :woohoo: this is really awesome! Ion engines, baby!
     
  6. Paradigne

    Paradigne Emperor

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    The article is three years old. Are they still toying with it or has it been scrapped?
     
  7. Murky

    Murky Deity

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    They are going forward with it. There was a show on the science channel about it lastnight. I can't seem to find any video of it on the net though.
     
  8. croxis

    croxis Chat room op

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    NASA successfully tests futuristic ion engine
    NASA-GSFC NEWS RELEASE
    Posted: November 23, 2003

    The ion engine has been use on Deep Space 1 as well as a probe to the moon. I am not sure what other things have used it at this time.
     
  9. Murky

    Murky Deity

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  10. Masquerouge

    Masquerouge Deity

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    I believe the article says that the ion engine of Deep Space 1 would be outclassed in every category by this new one.
     
  11. Dr. Yoshi

    Dr. Yoshi Emperor of the Universe

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    NASA also showcased the new vehicle that will use ion engines.

     
  12. Falcon02

    Falcon02 General

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    Many communication satellites use Ion Engines. Though Ion engines are great I sometimes think people think "OH Ion Engines, those are really powerful."

    Ion Engines are NOT powerful, they're thrust on average is equivlent to the weight of a piece of paper. Though I think some of the more recent concepts are significantly improving on that, but thrust levels are no where near Chemical.

    Ion engines ARE however VERY EFFECIENT, a small amount of Xenon fuel has a large amount of potential velocity change, but given the small thrust it takes a while. Fuel effeciency wise they put chemical to shame.

    EDIT: Also the JIMO mission referanced in the article.... was canceled :cry:
     
  13. Masquerouge

    Masquerouge Deity

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    So that :
    "The thruster is being designed to provide seven-to-ten-year lifetimes at high fuel efficiencies of more than 6,000-seconds specific impulse; a measure of how much thrust is generated per pound of fuel. This is a contrast to Space Shuttle main engines, which have a specific impulse of 460 seconds."

    just means ion engine are efficient, but not powerful?
     
  14. Falcon02

    Falcon02 General

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    In short yes, for optimum fuel efficiency you want the highest specific impulse you can get. The unfortunate trend though is high efficiency means lower actual thrust (or push).

    Ion engines will never get you INTO orbit. However they can manuever you while in orbit, since there is no friction to slow you down and you're not fighting gravity.


    To give you an Idea of Thrust....
    Here's the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME), at least according to wiki

    at 100% thrust (sea level / vacuum):
    1670 kN / 2090 kN (375,000 lbf / 470,000 lbf)

    This is just for one of the main engines (the SRB are approx. 1,000,000 lbf)


    Deep Space One's Ion Engine

    92 millinewtons of thrust at maximum power
    or 92 * 10^-3 N
    or 0.092 N
    vs. 1670kN or 1,670,000 N
    So without conversion to Imperial units, everyone should recognize that's really small

    Conversion to Imperial units
    approx. 0.021 lbf vs. 375,000 lbf

    Force wise no comparison


    However Efficiency...

    Deep Space One Operated it's engine for 16,265 hours (according to http://www.astronautix.com/craft/deepace1.htm), Can't find any stats on how much the velocity change was, but I'm the understanding it's one of the greatest (if not the) powered accelerations in spaceflight, with 81.5 kg of xenon.

    Space Shuttle, the SSME operate approx. 8 minutes and 719,115 kilograms, (for three engines).
     
  15. GenMarshall

    GenMarshall Night Elven Ghost Agent

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    So TIE Fighters and Starship Ion engines would become a relaity? :mischief:
     
  16. Falcon02

    Falcon02 General

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    Nope, not Ion engines for you, unless you don't mind weeks/months of thrusting before getting anywhere.

    I think you might be interested in VASIMR engines though. Experimental stages at the moment, but are sorta variable effeciency engines, can lower the efficiency for high thrust, or vise versa.
     
  17. Yuri2356

    Yuri2356 Test Screening

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    Yeah, it's just a fact of physics. You can get more momentum (m*v) per unit energy (0.5*m*v^2) from a large reaction mass than a small one, but that also means you'll quickly run out of mass to toss arround.
     
  18. Urederra

    Urederra Mostly harmless

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    I had my hope put in scramjets but after reading the wiki article, I lost it. It has to be rockets fueled with a mix of combustible and comburent all the way up.

    I don't think the space elevator could be possible either.
     
  19. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Sounds good! I look forward to hearing more about this "Project Prometheus" too.
     
  20. Falcon02

    Falcon02 General

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    Last I heard it's been either scrapped or put on the shelf to collect dust. JIMO was part of that project and I know it's been scrapped completely.

    Too many people protest Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs) and Nuclear Reactors going in to space. RTG's seem to get through okay 90% of the time, but I think all Nuclear reactors have been shot down. And I think that is the basis of Project Prometheus, the use of Nuclear Reactors for power in space, specifically for probes.


    Yeah scramjets are air breathing engines, and require you to already be going about Mach 5 to start working below those speeds they can't effectively compress the air for combustion. However, they are very nice and some concepts theorize we could have some scramjets skimming across the edge of the atmosphere and potentially significantly speed up commercial aviation.

    On Space elevators... I believe most experts agree it's theoretically possible, the biggest obstacles are limits of current technology (could be solved by further development of carbon nano-tubes), geography (base has to be along the equator), and financial expense.
     

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