NASA tested the “heart” of the next generation ion engine

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The company Aerojet Rocketdyne, the main contractor of NASA for working on the ionic engine of the new generation, successfully tested the main mechanisms of the future prototype. This is a device with an unprecedented 13 kW capacity for such systems, on the basis of which it is planned to build a full-value ion engine with a power of 50 kW. But this is in the future, and while engineers are only trying to model its appearance.

The device was called the “Advanced Electric Propulsion System”. For him, the module for generating a magnetic field has not yet been created, capacitors with xenon have not been connected, but it is possible to check the operation of electrical and thermal systems. As was done in a thermovacuum chamber at the NASA Research Center in Cleveland, the charging unit and the power distribution unit were successfully tested.

The AEPS prototype is already able to convert power with greater efficiency and minimal heat dissipation. The next step will be an increase in the power factor, up to a 100-fold increase in the connection of the ionizing field and the addition of xenon particles. Successes inspire developers of new technology, who without false modesty consider themselves pioneers in this field. And they believe that they are destined in the near future to build an ion engine that will deliver missions to Mars and the Moon.

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