Both electric propulsion systems and chemical engines have been used in the history of space travel. What are the specific areas where one would have an advantage over the other?
Basic Principles of Each Type of Engine:
- Combustion engines have been used more widely throughout the history of space travel.
- Chemical engines have a much higher thrust-to-weight ratio than electric propulsion systems.
Electric Propulsion engines:
Electric thrusters typically use much less propellant than chemical rockets.
Electric propulsion provide little thrust, but over a long time.
An electrically powered spacecraft propulsion system uses electrical energy to change accelerate propellant to high speeds.
This research shows that electric propulsion would be ideal for long duration space flight, but be almost completely ineffective for reaching escape velocity of a planetary body. And on the flip side, that chemical engines would be suitable for reaching escape velocity, but inefficient for long duration space travel due to the amount of fuel consumed by the thrusters. Am I correct in my assumptions?
Are their any notable missions that used one distinct kind or the other?