NASA Testing Revolutionary ION Propulsion Engine…Runs Non Stop for 5 Years
NASA has completed tests of a record-breaking advanced ion propulsion engine that can run non-stop for more than 48,000 hours, or 5 and a half years. It is the longest test duration of any type of space propulsion system demonstration project ever.
The ion engine will be used for future missions in deep space. Now according to NASA the thruster will be shut down.
The thruster was developed under NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Glenn manufactured the test engine’s core ionization chamber. Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, Calif., designed and built the ion acceleration assembly.
The 7-kilowatt class thruster could be used in a range of science missions, including deep space missions identified in NASA’s Planetary Science Decadal Survey.
“The NEXT thruster operated for more than 48,000 hours,” said Michael J. Patterson, principal investigator for NEXT at Glenn. “We will voluntarily terminate this test at the end of this month, with the thruster fully operational. Life and performance have exceeded the requirements for any anticipated science mission.”