NASA announced that it was signed a contract for $ 67 million with the company Aerojet Rocketdyne. According to the contract, the Californian rocket staff will create a new type of ion engine, capable of transferring a spacecraft to Mars and asteroids. “In collaboration with Aerojet Rocketdyne we will indeed create a new chassis that will allow us to create a number of new platforms for exploring deep space”, said Brian Smith, head of the Directorate for space flights to the Research Center of NASA.
The idea of creating an ion engine is not new. The first of these ideas appear in Russian and American constructors in the 60’s of the last century. Over the past two decades were released several satellites equipped with similar engines.
Like everything else they have advantages and disadvantages. Ion engines are highly cost-effective. This means that you need much lesser fuel than usual and are very effective in terms of efficiency and energy costs. On the other hand, they generate very low thrust. Acceleration of the spacecraft is very slow because of the structural features of these engines. This makes them not the ideal way for transportation people to Mars and other planets.
Did you know that NASA provides 24-hour live broadcast? See full HD aboard the International Space Station. This edited video removes all moments of technical instability and shows you constantly beautiful views of the Earth.