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Questions tagged [ion-thruster]

Questions about engines used in space that accelerate ions to create thrust.

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Delta-V of Starlink Satellites

The recently launched Starlink satellites are designed to use their HAL Ion thrusters to seek their own independent orbits, evade collisions, and de-orbit at the end of their lives. That's a lot of ...
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1answer
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Which one of these Isp's for the Dawn spacecraft is wrong?

The Wikipedia article NASA Solar Technology Application Readiness says: The ions are accelerated through two fine grids with roughly a 1300 V difference between them for 2.3 kW operation, with a ...
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353 views

What performance specification would be lower for Krypton than for Xenon in Hall effect thrusters?

The Ars Technica article SpaceX scrubs first attempt to launch 60 Internet satellites [Updated] (found here) discusses the use of Krypton rather than Xenon in the Starlink Hall effect ion thrusters: ...
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What is the estimate price for small ion thrusters on cubesats?

I can't find much about price for ion thruster and I read from somewhere that most ion thruster are off the rack product. I just need the rough estimate price for a small ion thruster and the closest ...
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1answer
105 views

Can an Ion engine in tow assist in launch? [closed]

This question asks: How large a body could a probe with ion engines land on and launch from? and made me think could an ion engine that is the payload be mounted in a way to assist in the launch?
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Could a cubesat propel itself to Mars?

I wrote the answer below to the question Could a cubesat be propelled to the moon? before realizing that it said Moon and I'd written it for Mars, so I've cloned that question and moved the answer ...
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3answers
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“Hybrid” ion engines?

If it's possible, could you use "hybrid" ion engines, maybe VASIMR, running on a mix of hydrogen, argon, and oxygen to exceed the velocities produced by any other ion engine? Could buckyballs also be ...
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49 views

Molecular propellant in ion engines

This question was prompted by discussions on this question. Can there be an advantage to using a molecular propellant in an ion engine, as opposed to noble gasses or iodine? (Although iodine actually ...
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What could go wrong if someone overpowered an ion engine?

The X-3 ion engine is the most powerful ion engine ever made, and puts out an astounding 5.4 N of force, using 103 kW. It's fuel is inert xenon gas, ionized and heated to a plasma. Now, what would ...
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129 views

Where do ion propulsion's ions go? Do they remain in the solar system or shoot out into interstellar space?

Writing this answer has got me thinking. You can estimate the exhaust velocity of an ion engine using $$\frac{v}{c} = \sqrt{\frac{2E}{m_0 c^2}}. $$ Choose $E=$ 100 keV and $m_0 c^2=$ 931 MeV times ...
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How to measure thrust of experimental ion engine

I have a science project about how different propellants affect the thrust of an Ion engine so I have 2 questions: 1 How can I measure the thrust of a diy ion engine ( technique or tool that I need ...
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144 views

Is rail gun conversion possible? [closed]

can a rail gun be converted into a "High Velocity Pulse Engine",to be used as a "Jump Drive" to achieve light speed capabilities.
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Could a spacecraft be propelled by a 180 degree deflection of two charged particle beams?

I am wondering if the electrostatic deflection of two charged particle beams could create enough thrust, via the Lorentz Force, to propel a spacecraft. Please reference the picture below. This ...
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1answer
110 views

Can a solar mirror increase an ion engine 's output?

Could an ideal size solar sail work as a parabolic mirror to increase the out put of an ion engine? Would the extra weight encumber the ion engine nullifying the increases sunlight on the ion engine? ...
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323 views

Overcoming the speed of light thanks to ion thrusters

I am wondering if I could build an ion thruster, that is capable of exit velocity bigger that the speed of light. If I start with the equation for calculating exit velocity $v_e$ of a particle of ...
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1answer
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How does Accion System's TILE propulsion module compare to an equivalently sized Hall effect or an Ion thruster?

Accion systems claims that it's TILE propulsion module can be scaled up to match the performance of a Hall effect or Ion thruster minus the clunky tanks and propulsion management systems. This would ...
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Converting Discharge Voltage to Temperature? Hall Effect Thruster Calculation

Trying to follow a Hall Effect Thruster design process given in this video: Hall Effect Thruster Design Video In 25:59, there's a calculation in which the presenter takes discharge voltage and ...
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1answer
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What could be the proprietary propellant blend that “Apollo Fusion” claims to have developed for it's hall effect thrusters?

According to the info posted on the Apollo fusion website http://apollofusion.com/ , they claim to use a propellant blend that offers " 2-3 X more impulse per mass and volume" in comparison towards ...
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174 views

Ion thrusters trip time

Suppose we had a fully equipped nuclear powered ion thruster starship. If it had a constant rate of acceleration of 1g, taking into account the fact that at the half way point you would have to turn ...
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1answer
114 views

Why are ion thruster grids seperated by vacuum?

Or to rephrase: Why aren't the grids two sides of a single insulator? I'd see many upsides (mechanical and electrical properties separated, holes can't be misaligned, tuning of grid-capacitance, ...) ...
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Ion thruster grid material

Initially asked in Physics StackExchange: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/436260/ion-thruster-grid-material The grids of ion thrusters have to withstand erosion by ion sputtering, heat ...
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Will an array of multiple ion engines still be more efficient than a single chemical engine?

I was just thinking the other day and got this idea out of my head. I'm not an aerospace expert or anything even close to it, so please understand even if this turns out to be a really basic question: ...
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How large is a magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster? Are there any upcoming programs using it?

Magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters are an interesting proposed method for propulsion in space, but are there any upcoming programs that will use them? If not, might this be because there still serious and ...
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Is there a use case describing the need to perform xenon propellant offloading?

I can understand hydrazine offloading and the hazards associated, but I'm wondering if there is such a need for xenon offloading.
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Low-thrust spiraling to escape, is the flight path angle (gamma) at C3=0 always 39 degrees?

@MarkAdler's comment led me to ask Why would a slow spiral from a C3 of zero take about 2.4 times as much ΔV as an impulsive maneuver? which resulted in this tidy and efficient @MarkAdler answer which ...
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Can a solar sail be added to an ion engine and work better?

Has there been a concept vehicle that uses both solar sails and ion engines? Does the added mass of each system increase or reduce the spacecrafts total delta V capabilities? Inspired by S.F. As S.F....
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Is this description of the “dipole drive” and how it would work physically correct?

Comments in chat have noted the recent post in the Centauri Dreams blog titled The Dipole Drive: A New Concept for Space Propulsion. In contrast to the single positively charged screen employed by ...
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Going from LEO to lunar using only low-thrust ion propulsion - can it be done?

@SF.'s question What are the parameters of the new Iodine electrical rocket engine developed by RSC Energia? links to the short RT article 'Ten times cheaper': Russian space company testing iodine ...
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What ion engine is used by Hayabusa2?

Hayabusa2 is on its final approach to asteroid 162173 Ryugu, expected to arrive in July 2018. Like its predecessor, Hayabusa2 uses an ion thruster for deep-space propulsion, but I can't find any ...
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Which way will the Neumann drive (on the ISS) point, what will be its maximum possible thrust?

After reading the answers to: Will the Neumann drive start testing aboard the ISS some time in 2018? What is Australia's Bartolomeo platform? When does it arrive at the ISS; when and where will it ...
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Will the Neumann drive start testing aboard the ISS some time in 2018?

The 2016 Daily Mail article Radical ion rocket engine that could 'get to Mars and back on one tank of fuel' set to be tested on the ISS says: Neumann Drive achieves more than 11,000 seconds of ...
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If LOX/LH2 were used in a fuel cell powering an ion engine could it provide a greater delta-v than with a conventional engine?

Question: If LOX/LH2 were used in a fuel cell powering an ion engine could it provide a greater delta-v than with a conventional engine? Conditions: Start in space in a stable heliocentric orbit (no ...
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Are any electrically propelled missions to the outer solar system being planned? If not why not?

In answering this question I discover that a probe capable of $10^{-4}$ G continuous acceleration can get to Europa (starting from LEO) in about 16 months. Assuming I haven't made a mistake in my ...
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3answers
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Why doesn't the ISS use ion engines to maintain altitude?

So the ISS uses small thrusters on the Soyuz (usually) to perform occasional reboost burns to raise its orbit. This goes through, from what I can tell, around 3,500 kilos of fuel per year. Would it ...
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Ion Thruster Thrust Calculation Problem

Trying to calculate the impulse of a little ion thruster I'm putting together. An old version of it can be found here, I'll be polarizing the AC current and putting in copper nails on the next ...
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Troubleshooting a DIY Ion Thruster

Been following a Make-Magazine article on how to make your own ion thruster: https://makezine.com/projects/ionic-thruster/ Went through the tutorial step by step, not seeming to get any thrust out of ...
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Simulation of Rocket chambers like in Hall Effect Thrusters

I started learning Solidworks in hopes of being able to run simulation to study rocket chambers. Currently, I am studying the flow of plasma and its interaction with the magnetic field, but ...
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1answer
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Colloidal or electrospray thrusters - any advantages over ion thrusters?

I haven't seen much about colloidal or electrospray thrusters besides that Wikipedia article and a few questions here. The idea is similar to ion thrusters in that propellant mass is broken into small ...
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Generating an electric field for a colloid thruster

I was wondering how the electric field in an electrospray thruster works to ionize particles and propel a micro spacecraft. I was thinking of possible circuits but I wasn't sure what it could look ...
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1answer
267 views

Master thesis - new research topics [closed]

I am studying Aerospace master and currently on the brim to pursue my master thesis. I would like our input on the new research trends that are going on in the space industry. I would like to do some ...
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703 views

What is the lowest altitude that an ion thruster can be used for station keeping?

What is the lowest altitude that an ion thruster can realistically be used for station keeping before its small amount of thrust is overcome by atmospheric drag? Please state your assumptions such as ...
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1answer
617 views

Is it possible to use a linear particle accelerator in deep space as propulsion?

A linear particle accelerator permits to accelerate ions to high speed and there is no need to use big, heavy magnets to divert the beam. The space vacuum remove the need of pipes, so it could be ...
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Ion engine: purpose of magnet rings

I have a question about the gridded electrostatic ion engine. In the ionisation chamber there are several magnet rings that create a magnetic field inside the chamber. But what is the purpose of ...
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2answers
617 views

In an ion thruster, does the temperature of the plasma drop after acceleration?

In the last discussion on why ion thrusters are so energy hungry(Why are Ion Thrusters so energy hungry?), people said that the system is not only supposed to ionize the gas but also heat it to ...
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Why don't Ion thrusters use exothermic reactions directly to ionize the gas and Heat up the Plasma?

Ion thrusters require a lot of energy because of their high exhaust velocities. But why can't they just pump a mixture of hydrogen and xenon into the chamber, mix it with oxygen and burn it? Doesn't ...
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Why is there supposed be a current passing through the grids in an Ion Thruster?

Recently,I've posted a question on ion thrusters. I thought that it would be enough for the grids to be charged to accelerate ions. If I have a positive plate and a negative plate, separated by a ...
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Why are Ion Thrusters so energy hungry?

Ion thrusters need a lot of energy. But I don't understand why. So, one thing I understand is that it takes a lot of energy to achieve a high exhaust velocity ( since kinetic energy is proportional to ...
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Why can't we use charged fine metal dust instead of plasma for ion thruster?

One of the things that makes ion thrusters so bulky and problematic are the magnetic shields required to protect from high temperatures right? And we have high temperatures because we use plasma right?...
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Using interstellar medium as propellant for ion propulsion

The Bussard Ramjet assumes a huge scoop picking interstellar hydrogen, compressing it into plasma, subjecting to nuclear fusion (harvesting the fusion energy of hydrogen) and ejecting the products of ...
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What limits thrust-to-weight ratio of ion thusters?

If we consider nuclear-rocket technology not feasible (whether due to technological or political limitations), the second best options for future transportation in solar system are perhaps solar-...