Questions tagged [ion-thruster]

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

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122 views

Is the BBC's explanation of nuclear thermal electric propulsion wrong?

The new BBC News item New engine tech that could get us to Mars faster says: Once Orion has been connected to the transfer vehicle, a nuclear electric rocket would be used to get the crew capsule ...
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98 views

Mass ratio of solar-electric versus radioisotope thermo-electric power for propulsion; beyond how many AU do RTGs win?

Solar-electric propulsion has been used several times now in deep space missions. This question explores the scalability in comparison to Radioisotope thermoelectric generation or other nuclear-based ...
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Would ISS raise up with the help of the self-powered ion thrusters?

The solar arrays provide about 100 kW of power, so we can put the two HiPEP thusters providing 1 N (1000 mN) power combined, with the specific impulse as high as 6000–9000. Such an acceleration force ...
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156 views

When did ion propulsion first see some serious development efforts?

In the video below at about 01:35 Dr. Marc D. Rayman, Chief Propulsion Engineer, NASA JPL mentions that the first time he had heard about ion propulsion was on the ...
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What are the advantages of solid iodine propellant and how is it used for ion propulsion?

I was reading about different sources of propellant for ion thrusters, Xenon being the most common. However, in more recent articles I've found more and more mentions of Solid Iodine being used as ion ...
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Can a Mars orbiter mass only 50 kg?

A press release by the SatRevolution consortium says that it plans to send cubesats "as small as 50 kg" to Mars to "conduct a variety of valuable science." So that means orbiting, not just a flyby ...
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How quickly can the Starlink spacecraft respond to an impending collision?

update: The word "refused" might be inaccurate: CNET: ESA's near collision with SpaceX Starlink satellite blamed on a 'bug' Ars Technica: SpaceX satellite was on “collision course” until ESA ...
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81 views

Where should ion drives be placed on a rotating space station of the lop-sided dumbbell variety?

I have been working on a model of a proposed artificial gravity facility by Joe Carroll, based on this paper. It is an initial concept paper and it doesn't spell everything out, so I am trying to ...
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VLEO - ion thrust using atmospheric molecules?

For very low Earth orbit satellites such as the SpaceX Starlink, would it be at all feasible to design an ionic thruster that carries no onboard fuel? Instead it would simply scoop the atoms directly ...
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How does a Hall effect ion thruster have a sea-level Isp of 800? Operates at 1 atmosphere?

Astronatix's SPT-100 lists the following: Stechkin electric rocket engine. Used on Meteor and Gals satellites. In Production. 1.35 kW Hall thruster. Thrust variable 2 to 20 kgf. ...
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How does a “hybrid orbital raising system” based on R-4D (N2O4/MMH) + SPT-100 (Hall effect) work exactly? (Intelsat 38 & 39)

Astronatix's Intelsat 39 lists the two engines SPT-100 Stechkin 1.35 kW Hall thruster. R-4D Marquardt N2O4/MMH rocket engine. 490 N. Question: Why is this combination on Intelsat 39 called "hybrid" ...
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Why is the thrust to weight ratio of ion thrusters so low?

The more power we feed an ion thruster, the more thrust it generates. In theory, if we could give it, let's say 10 gigawatts of power, it could generate pretty high thrust. In the example I calculated ...
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In theory, how much thrust could an ion thruster generate?

Ion thrusters require a lot of electrical power, while their thrust is incredibly low. However, the more power is available, the more thrust can be achieved. What would be the theoretical limit to ...
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389 views

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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123 views

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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654 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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107 views

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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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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“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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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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370 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Why are ion thruster grids separated 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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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 ...