Skip to comments.How Electric Spacecraft Could Fly NASA to Mars
Posted on 05/18/2013 9:09:05 PM PDT by BenLurkin
...While still not as common as traditional chemical spacecraft engines, electric engines are growing in popularity for both Earth-orbiting satellites and scientific spacecraft on missions to deep space. And electric engines could turn out to be a key element in NASA's goal of sending people to Mars, experts say.
There are two main ways to power an electric spacecraft engine: via solar energy absorbed from the sun, or via nuclear fission. Both have been tested successfully, though solar electric propulsion is the most commonly used.
"The solar array power is getting cheaper per watt, getting more efficient," Hruby told SPACE.com. "A bunch of factors are converging to finally make it the preferred method." [Related: Electric Cars on Earth & Mars: How They Stack Up]
Electric spacecraft engines have been flying in various forms for decades. In the 1970s, the Soviet Union pioneered Hall thruster technology, which remains the most common type of electric spacecraft engine. Hall thrusters use electric and magnetic fields to convert neutral atoms in a propellant into charged atoms, called ions, and then accelerate the ions to produce thrust.
"You have an electrical grid held at a certain voltage," explained Nathaniel Fisch, head of the Hall Thruster Experiment project at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J. "You form a plasma and accelerate the ions in the plasma. Then the ions would be ejected at the voltage you put between the grid and the plasma."
(Excerpt) Read more at space.com ...
Right - the only downside is that they have to stop every 50 miles for recharging.
“The rocket engines that would be required to lift that much extension cord would do irreparable harm to Mother Gaia. But they could safely power my pontoon boat due to my influence with King Neptune.”
Combine that tech with space stations tethered to Earth using carbon nano-fiber construction and the idea colonizing the solar system is very possible.
Of course, the government is probably going to get upset when “citizens” in the asteroid belt decide they don’t want to pay taxes to a government that offers them nothing.
The better option is solar power - provided you get back home before dark.
They seem to be referring to ion engines, which have very high efficiency, but extremely low thrust. The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is using this type of engine to good advantage in visiting these low gravity objects. It is currently en route to Ceres after orbiting Vesta for about a year.
Pffft! Use and extension cord, silly!!!!
One of my favorite Blonde Jokes is the one where the Blonde says she’s going to take a trip to the sun. You can’t go to the sun, you’d burn up. Well duh, we’d go at night!
Obamamobiles in space.
Next they’ll stop Space Warming.
Enough mass drivers out there, and liberals can be made as extinct dinosaurs.
I’m off to buy futures in companies that make extremely long extension cords.
Blonde #1 - (calling Blonde #2) - let’s meet for lunch.
Blonde #2 - Where should we meet?
Blonde #1 - Let’s meet at the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk.
and they still haven't caught me yet
IOW, this is just another type of rocket engine. You move forward by throwing stuff out the back.
We will never accomplish much of anything in space as long as we try to get around by burning (or electrically accelerating) mass.
What is needed is some sort of massless method of propulsion. There are four elemental forces in physics, with two of them being gravity and electromagnetism. If we could control and manipulate gravity anything like we do electromagnetism, we'd probably have a space drive that is functional.