NASA is inching closer and closer to sending someone to Mars! Latest tests done at NASA of radical ion propulsion systems have revealed a major advancement in radical ion engine that is solely designed to get us up to Mars.
According to DailyMail, the test, known as Hall Thruster, uses forms of electric and magnetic fields to “ionize gases like xenon and expels the ions to produce thrust.” This very test and technique are extremely safe, clean and far more fuel-efficient than NASA’s more traditional chemical rockets, however, the engine creates a lower thrust and slower acceleration.
NASA paid Aerojet Rocketdyne nearly $67 million for this very system and three years to develop it, and with the contract up, the system is up and running. Known as the Advanced Electric Propulsion System, NASA can now potentially increase spaceflight transportation by 10 times over the current system in place.
This propulsion system, although quite costly, is already in use for sending off satellites in orbit around the Earth. With satellites, for the time being, further tests are being done to see if the system would be fully capable of launching a NASA astronaut into space in direction of Mars. We have managed to get rovers to Mars, but have yet to send a human that far off into space. With evidence of life discovered on the red planet, NASA is doing what it can to get ready for the first ever-human launch to the planet, and this propulsion system just might do the trick!
According to Aerojet Rocketdyne, the system has been completed in its early stages and is continuing to develop a 13-kilowatt Hall Thruster string for NASA as well. The most powerful Hall Thruster according to NASA in orbit right now is 4.5 kilowatts, talk about a step up!
“By staying on the cutting edge of propulsion technology, we have positioned ourselves for a major role not only in getting back to the Moon but also in any future initiative to send people to Mars”, said Eileen Drake, CEO, and president of Aerojet Rocketdyne.
This innovative piece of technology is the next step into deep space exploration and a historic move of launching someone to Mars for the first time. The team is moving on to the final steps of production and design finalization in order to get the system fully completed.
With fuel efficiency, clean energy, and a safe maneuver to get someone to Mars, we must say, we are definitely impressed. NASA has done it again!