Ion Thruster Sets World Record for Electric Propulsion Life

For the next three weeks I’m going to start every blog post with a reminder about the BuildTheEnterprise White House petition. Just click here to see it. The BTE symbol for promoting the petition is here.


NASA Ion Thruster

NASA has  been testing a new ion thruster, and it is just set a record for the longest run time. The NEXT ion thruster has been operated for over 43,000 hours. Since one year is 8760 hours, that means that this engine has run for 4.9 years.

While this is only a 7 kilowatt engine, this none the less shows the long life capabilities of electric propulsion engines. The Enterprise will need VASIMR-like engines which are much higher power.

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10 Responses to Ion Thruster Sets World Record for Electric Propulsion Life

  1. Mitchz95 says:

    Very cool! Is it still going, or did they shut it off?

  2. Spacerguy says:

    I’ve got the BTE petition up and running on my blog, sure hope that helps. The Enterprise needs us!

  3. Grand Lunar says:

    Something I think that might need consideration; alternatives to VASIMR.
    We might want to look into how well scaled-up versions of Hall effects thrusters can work. At higher power levels, I think they might work.
    And there are other concepts too, aside from VASIMR that recently emerged.
    Just offering these so not all eggs are in one basket. :)

    Something else I feel like offering.
    Even if the assessment mentioned the the petition gets through, I’m not so sure NASA would rule in favor of the concept, even if the princicples are sound.
    My reasoning for this relates to what happened with the Constellation program. The studies of the ESAS were appearently skewed to favor the Ares 1 over the Atlas V as a crew launch vehicle.
    I see internal politics being a factor in the assessment of the Big E as well.
    For this reason, I think that even if a NASA study doesn’t favor the design, a private study be conducted as well.

    • Mitchz95 says:

      Agreed on both points. We should do a private study no matter what becomes of the petition, no matter what NASA turns up, just for the sake of getting a second opinion. Or even two different private studies — triple redundancy! 😀

    • BTE-Dan says:

      All studies are good, and all publicity is good I think regarding the Enterprise.

      I don’t think NASA would ever pick the Enterprise on their own. They will always pick the 100% functional ship unless they are told to do otherwise. To build the Enterprise would have to be a political decision that is handed to them. But that has been true of every really big program. NASA is responsible for the nuts and bolts to get the job done. But the broader goals they are working toward are given to them when they receive funding.

  4. Joshua B. says:

    Has anyone considered researching plasm shielding for the Big E? From what I understand the Ion propulsion system will generate alot of extra Plasma which could potentialy be used. By no means am I compitent person working with a technolgy like this. I was simply researching other shielding techniques and thought it could prove atleast a start of some form of energy shielding.

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