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33 votes
Accepted

Why will Starlink satellites use krypton instead of xenon for electric propulsion?

It's the same reason SpaceX often does things differently: Krypton is a lot cheaper. The satellites are designed to control costs. For example, each will maneuver with Hall-effect thrusters—ion ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
22 votes

How is the Quantum Drive performing on board the BARRY-1 cubesat?

It is slowly sinking into the atmosphere. The NORAD ID is 58338 per the IVO site. SatNogs gets their data from space-track.org, where I signed up for an account and then got all the TLEs so far in ...
Erin Anne's user avatar
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21 votes

Would electrically powered thrusters on JWST have made it last for decades longer?

There are a couple of design choices that might have affected the decision of using chemical thrusters. First, the propulsion systems of the JWST were used to correct the insertion trajectory to the ...
Gabriel Sanchez's user avatar
20 votes

Have light gases like hydrogen or helium been explored for ion propulsion?

(Top edit: The Question asserts "Xenon and krypton are popular despite their heavy mass" and asks about exploring H or He ion propellants for improved Isp. This answer shows that lighter is not ...
Bob Jacobsen's user avatar
  • 12.7k
18 votes

How is the Quantum Drive performing on board the BARRY-1 cubesat?

They say they've not started testing yet (as of 16th January): https://twitter.com/RaMansell/status/1747321369732567117 LEOP of Barry-1 is going very slowly, but it is progressing. I appreciate @...
Alan Birtles's user avatar
  • 2,066
14 votes
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Is the propulsion for the Scorpion nuclear-thermal-electric ship concept viable and credible?

As with any hypothetical design, one is limited to consider if it's making some "unreasonable" assumptions. First, one may compare the claimed performance to existing technology. Nuclear ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
12 votes

Would electrically powered thrusters on JWST have made it last for decades longer?

Electric thrusters really have only one advantage over chemical ones: you need less fuel for the same momentum change. In particular less mass of fuel. The measure that directly expresses this is the ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
11 votes

Cosmic rays can be new energy source

The problem is with the low energy density of cosmic rays in the universe. Individual cosmic rays are indeed very energetic, but there just aren't enough of them to be a significant power source for ...
Tom Spilker's user avatar
  • 18.3k
11 votes

Has ion propulsion ever been used in a deep space trajectory correction maneuver proper?

The latter: not really in a separate TCM, but integrated into long propulsive burns ... which may be updated after anomalies occur. TCMs are small maneuvers (possibly as small as 5-10 m/s) and used to ...
ChrisR's user avatar
  • 6,180
10 votes
Accepted

Ratio of low-thrust slow spiral to Hohmann transfer $\Delta V$?

This answer has the two-impulse Hohmann transfer $\Delta V$. It is: $$\sqrt{2x\over x+1}+\sqrt{1\over x}-\sqrt{2\over x\left(x+1\right)}-1$$ where $x$ is the ratio of the higher orbit radius to the ...
Mark Adler's user avatar
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10 votes
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Super Capacitor Stages

No Even if overall design makes a helicopter lifted first stage sensible you still need good energy density (power per KG of energy storage). Super capacitors have a special properties that make them ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
10 votes
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How much of the world's xenon has been used in spaceflight altogether? Is it a lot? Did it cost a lot?

According to Wikipedia's article about xenon, the gas occurs at 87 ppb (parts per billion) by volume in Earth's atmosphere. Earth's atmosphere weighs 5.15Ă—1018 kg. Dividing this by the density of air (...
flhl1010's user avatar
  • 116
9 votes

What is total impulse?

I'll expand on @OrganicMarble's answer, it seems to me that the link there to the page on Richard Nakka's Experimental Rocketry Web Site titled Determining Total Impulse and Specific Impulse from ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
9 votes
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Why does the NASA NEXT engine use xenon?

This video explains it. In short, it all boils down to golden middle between energy requirements, thrust and specific impulse. Ionizing lighter noble gases requires much higher potential - much more ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
8 votes

Can we thrust a rocket from earth using electric power?

The one thing which could conceivably fit your question and have a positive reply is an electromagnetic catapult. This would be an evacuated tube, typically hundreds of kilometers long, in which ...
Steve Linton's user avatar
  • 19.6k
8 votes

Electrical Propulsion Thrust

Thrust isn't the bottle neck. Rather thrust to mass. In other words, acceleration. A 10 kilowatt Hall thruster exerts about half a newton. Half a newton is about a tenth of a pound or a little more ...
HopDavid's user avatar
  • 15.8k
8 votes
Accepted

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

With current technology: 4.3AU. From wikipedia, it appears that the most powerful flight-proven RTG had a power density of 5.4W/kg. From NASA, current (as of 2017) solar technology has a power ...
Michael Stachowsky's user avatar
8 votes

Where to send invention ideas?

There is a federal program for funding of small business research concepts. It is called the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). Each agency puts out a procurement document each year ...
tckosvic's user avatar
  • 2,272
8 votes

Why was SERT-1 put in a suborbital trajectory (4000 km apogee) while SERT-2 (1970-009A) was put in a 1000 km circular polar orbit?

Suborbital flights are cheaper and good enough for a proof-of-concept. A one hour flight was considered sufficient to sequentially operate the two engines and obtain the desired test data. ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
8 votes

When is the thrust produced in an ion thruster?

First off, ChatGPT doesn't provide answers. It strings words into plausible looking sentences based on the prompts you provide. It knows nothing and understands less. If you rely on a chatbot for ...
JRE's user avatar
  • 813
7 votes
Accepted

Will the ISS have electric propulsion to maintain altitude? Is there enough power for it?

the VASIMR test planned by Ad Astra has been cancelled: On December 8, 2008, Ad Astra signed an agreement with NASA to arrange the placement and testing of a flight version of the VASIMR, the VF-200, ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
7 votes

Can electrodynamic tether propulsion use the solar magnetic field?

Some figures I found suggest that 300km above the earth would have a strength around 0.24 gauss (Research India), while the interplanetary field at 1AU is only about 50 micro gauss (Valee). I suspect ...
BowlOfRed's user avatar
  • 6,882
6 votes
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What is Australia's Bartolomeo platform? When does it arrive at the ISS; when and where will it be attached?

Bartolomeo is not Australian but European. It's a platform designed by Airbus DS. It will be installed outside the Columbus laboratory on the COL-EPF (Columbus Laboratory Module Exposed Payload ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
6 votes
Accepted

Can we thrust a rocket from earth using electric power?

tldr; No, our current technology is far too weak. Electrostatic Thrusters The term 'electric power' when it comes to engines can mean a few things, but the closest we currently have in spaceflight ...
Jack's user avatar
  • 9,956
6 votes

What's the final word; does the EmDrive drive work or not?

There is no theoretical reason to think it would work. Its inventor based it on his fundamental misunderstandings of relativity and basic Newtonian mechanics. (Amusingly, Shawyer's analysis assumes ...
Christopher James Huff's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

What's this small source of glowing blue plasma next to Psyche's Hall effect thruster for? What does it do and why does the plasma curve and connect?

It is the hollow electron emitting cathode used to produce the plasma. The electrons are moving within an electric and a magnetic field so they are moving on a circular path. The electrons are hitting ...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 49k
6 votes

Would electrically powered thrusters on JWST have made it last for decades longer?

It's uncertain. There may have been 500 electric-propulsion spacecraft in operation in 2019, but the contract to build JWST was signed in 2003, when there were far fewer. Electric propulsion may be a ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 15.3k
5 votes

Can we thrust a rocket from earth using electric power?

Short answer : No. We do not have storage capacity of energy in either electric or chemical form that would allow to convert back the chemical energy into electric energy if required, and allow us to ...
SYN's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes

Electrical Propulsion Thrust

In principle, ion thrusters can be scaled to very large thrusts, but their thrust per watt of input power is inherently low. This means that the power supply for any electrical thruster is going to be ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar

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