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 mich higher weight to thrust ratio than electric propulsion systems.
Electric Propulsion engines:
- Electric thrusters typically use much less propellant than chemical rockets.
- Allow for more sustained flight.
Electric propulsion can provide a small thrust for a long time.
An electrically powered spacecraft propulsion system uses electrical energy to change the velocity of a spacecraft. Most of these kinds of spacecraft propulsion systems work by electrically expelling propellant (reaction mass) at high speed -- (wikipedia)
This research shows that electric proplusion would be ideal for long term space shuttle, but 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 term 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?