Electrically powered spacecraft propulsion – wikipedia m gasol nba


An electrically-powered spacecraft propulsion system uses electrical energy to change the velocity of a spacecraft. Most of these kinds of spacecraft propulsion systems work by electrically expelling propellant ( reaction mass) at high speed, but electrodynamic tethers work by interacting with a planet’s magnetic field. [1]

Electric thrusters typically use much less propellant than chemical rockets because they have a higher exhaust speed (operate at a higher specific impulse) than chemical rockets. [2] Due to limited electric power the thrust is much weaker compared to chemical rockets, but electric propulsion can provide a small thrust for a long time. [3] Electric propulsion can achieve high speeds over long periods and thus can work better than chemical rockets for some deep space missions. [2]

Electric propulsion is now a mature and widely used technology on spacecraft. Russian satellites have used electric propulsion for decades [4] and it is predicted that by 2020, half of all new satellites will carry full electric propulsion. [5] As of 2013 [update], over 200 spacecraft operated throughout the Solar System use electric propulsion for station keeping, orbit raising, or primary propulsion. [6] In the future, the most advanced electric thrusters may be able to impart a Delta-v of 100 km/s, which is enough to take a spacecraft to the outer planets of the Solar System (with nuclear power), but is insufficient for interstellar travel. [2] [7] An electric rocket with an external power source (transmissible through laser on the photovoltaic panels) has a theoretical possibility for interstellar flight. [8] [9] However, electric propulsion is not a method suitable for launches from the Earth’s surface, as the thrust for such systems is too weak.

Electrically-powered propulsion with a nuclear reactor was considered by Dr. Tony Martin for interstellar Project Daedalus in 1973, but the novel approach was rejected because of very low thrust, the heavy equipment needed to convert nuclear energy into electricity, and as a result a small acceleration, which would take a century to achieve the desired speed. [12]

The demonstration of electric propulsion was an ion engine carried on board the SERT-1 (Space Electric Rocket Test) spacecraft, [13] [14] launched on 20 July 1964 and it operated for 31 minutes. [13] A follow-up mission launched on 3 February 1970, SERT-2, carried two ion thrusters, one operated for more than five months and the other for almost three months. [13] [15] [16]

By the early 2010s, many satellite manufacturers were offering electric propulsion options on their satellites—mostly for on-orbit attitude control—while some commercial communication satellite operators were beginning to use them for geosynchronous orbit insertion in place of traditional chemical rocket engines. [17] Types [ edit ] Ion and plasma drives [ edit ]

This type of rocket-like reaction engine uses electric energy to obtain thrust from propellant carried with the vehicle. Unlike rocket engines, these kinds of engines do not necessarily have rocket nozzles, and thus many types are not considered true rockets.

Electrodynamic tethers are long conducting wires, such as one deployed from a tether satellite, which can operate on electromagnetic principles as generators, by converting their kinetic energy to electric energy, or as motors, converting electric energy to kinetic energy. [19] Electric potential is generated across a conductive tether by its motion through the Earth’s magnetic field. The choice of the metal conductor to be used in an electrodynamic tether is determined by a variety of factors. Primary factors usually include high electrical conductivity, and low density. Secondary factors, depending on the application, include cost, strength, and melting point. Unconventional [ edit ]

Electric propulsion systems can also be characterized as either steady (continuous firing for a prescribed duration) or unsteady (pulsed firings accumulating to a desired impulse). However, these classifications are not unique to electric propulsion systems and can be applied to all types of propulsion engines. Dynamic properties [ edit ]