Questions tagged [ion-thruster]

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

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Effect of delaying electron ion recombination in ion engine plumes; is a tiny additional thrust component available?

I have a follow-up question in response to this answer by @uhoh, basically asking about higher order effects alluded to in their answer. If the ion exhaust plume coming off an ion engine remain ...
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642 views

Thrust of ion thruster when spacecraft is charged

I read in many articles and books that the thrust of an ion thruster is equal to $$T = \sqrt{\frac{2M}{e}} I_b \sqrt{V_b} \ \ \text{[newtons]}$$ screenshot where $V_b$ is the acceleration potential, ...
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How does MEV use its “ion thruster on a stick” technology?

I was reading Politico's Biden’s space policy: One giant leap for climate change and some algorithm embedded a "Learn more about MEV; Northrop Grumman" advertisement in the story. (...
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How should mass specific impulse calculated for relativistic exhaust?

This answer says: Optimising for Isp only is problematic, as it's simply: $$I_{sp} = \frac{v_e}{g}$$ Which is the same as optimising for exhaust velocity. With no constraints on thrust, particle ...
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Maximum grid voltage of ion thruster

As I read the grid voltage of an ion thruster is of the order of 1-4kV and to achieve that voltage they use electronic voltage boosters. Knowing that the thrust is proportional to the grid voltage(for ...
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136 views

Could pressurized ionized oxygen be used as a fuel source for an ion thruster?

I am wondering if a canister of pressurized oxygen could be used as a fuel source for an ion thruster. To show how this could work on a conceptual basis, please reference the following drawing: I ...
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159 views

Is there any possible reason to direct the electron gun specifically towards the ion trail behind an ion thruster?

This answer to Neutralization of ions in the ion thruster quotes the introduction to Wikipedia's Ion thruster: Temporarily stored electrons are finally reinjected by a neutralizer in the cloud of ...
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Neutralization of ions in the ion thruster

I have a question about neutralizing the ion thruster, why simply does not put a positive potential on the satellite to prevent the emitted ions from returning to the satellite? is the ion current so ...
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88 views

Where can I learn to calculate the physics of an ion thruster?

I am trying to build an ion thruster, but I don’t know where to start learning the actual numbers behind one. I know how they work on a basic level, but not much more. Basically I want to be able to ...
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Anyone know of a “N71” Hall Effect Thruster currently in production or development?

In a NASA Goddard Q&A transcript for an upcoming proposal, the NASA representative mentioned that the mission designers were considering the "N71" Hall Effect Thruster as an option for an upcoming ...
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Ion Lifter Thrust Calculation Problem

I've recently started building an ion lifter. I tried calculating the thrust the lifter produces but I came to a value that is way to high for such a small lifter. I'm using a 40kV at 1800mA AC ...
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106 views

Can you accurately control the reentry point by deorbiting with ion propulsion?

With decaying orbits, the point of reentry depends heavily on solar activity, and is very hard to predict or control. When there are things that could survive reentry and potentially be harmful, or ...
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105 views

Could the kinetic energy in the Sun's solar wind power an ion propulsion system for an interplanetary spacecraft?

I am wondering if the kinetic energy of the Sun's solar wind could energize heavy ions to the point in which they would produce enough momentum to propel an interplanetary spacecraft. To help ...
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Why was circa 600 volts used for DAWN's ion propulsion?

This answer estimates that the DAWN spacecraft's solar-electric propulsion accelerated about 3 milligrams of Xe+1 per second, using roughly 1350 Watts of electrical power. I estimate that 3 mg/sec of ...
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153 views

For a DAWN-like solar-electric deep space mission, would using propellant particles much heavier than xenon atoms be beneficial?

For deep space missions using ion propulsion that are power-limited, this answer explains that a large mass/charge ratio ($m/q$) species is desirable. The solar-electric propulsion system used by the ...
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97 views

Was DAWN's power-limited propulsion really limited by power used to accelerate the ions?

The discussion here uses the DAWN mission as a reference for the argument that the power used to accelerate the ions is what's important. I'm curious how many watts were actually used to accelerate ...
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Have light gases like hydrogen or helium been explored for ion propulsion?

This answer and discussion in comments below this answer mention that for an ion of mass $m$ and charge $q$ accelerated by a voltage $V$ the momentum it receives (impulse) is $$p = \sqrt{2mqV} = \...
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103 views

Using recent technology, how much electrical power could a nuclear reactor launchable by a low-level heavy-lift vehicle be developed to produce?

The main purpose behind asking this question is to ascertain the potential power-to-weight ratio of reactors built using modern-derivative technology (i.e. either Generation III derivatives or ...
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Going to Eros; what to consider choosing between ion and chemical propulsion?

When planning a mission to a close approach to the asteroid Eros and to remain nearby, what are the factors that one would need to consider when choosing between ion propulsion and chemical propulsion?...
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What is the most efficient way to go to Titan? [closed]

With ionic motors? or chemical engines? liquid propellant (LH2) or gas? What is the most compact way to make the trip? in the smallest possible rocket, for example the SS-520-5 is a 2-stage rocket, 11....
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1answer
168 views

What are the most effective deep-space propulsion systems?

I am looking for a powerful propulsion system for deep space missions. I am between a powerful ionic motor or a VASIMIR (variable specific impulse magnetoplasm motor). What do you think? The idea ...
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724 views

What would the rocket equation look like for 4 ion thrusters?

If i have 4 ion thrusters(IFM Nano Thrusters), how would the rocket equation have to be done to calculate the total delta-v?
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What calculations should I do to go from LEO to the moon with an ionic motor?

my question is, what calculations should I do to be able to go from LEO to the lunar orbit? If this were done, two of these thrusters would be used https://www.cubesatshop.com/product/ifm-nano-...
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165 views

What is a lithium fed GIT? How does it work?

This answer to What is the maximum speed an ion engine can propel a spacecraft at? mentions the following: Lithium fed GIT (gridded ion thrusters) have demonstrated 50,000 - 80,000 seconds of ISP (...
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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 and ...
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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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191 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 ...
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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. Marketed in USA by ...
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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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1answer
369 views

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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901 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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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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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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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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429 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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165 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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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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222 views

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 ...