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Ion Engine Records No Tuneups, No Problems



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 30th 03, 06:44 PM
Ron Baalke
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Default Ion Engine Records No Tuneups, No Problems


MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Nancy Lovato (818) 354-9382
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dom Amatore (256) 544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

News Release: 2003-105
July 30, 2003

Ion Engine Records No Tuneups, No Problems

The future is here for spacecraft propulsion and the trouble-free
engine performance that every vehicle operator would like, achieved by
an ion engine running for a record 30,352 hours at NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The engine is a spare of the Deep Space 1 ion engine used during a
successful technology demonstration mission that featured a bonus
visit to comet Borrelly. It had a design life of 8,000 hours, but
researchers kept it running for almost five years, from Oct. 5, 1998,
to June 26, 2003, in a rare opportunity to fully observe its
performance and wear at different power levels throughout the test.
This information is vital to future missions that will use ion
propulsion, as well as to current research efforts to develop improved
ion thrusters.

"Finding new means to explore our solar system - rapidly, safely and
with the highest possible return on investment - is a key NASA
mission," said Colleen Hartman, head of Solar System Exploration at
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. "Robust in-space flight
technologies such as ion propulsion are critical to this effort and
will pioneer a new generation of discovery among our neighboring
worlds."

While the engine had not yet reached the end of its life, the decision
was made to terminate the test because near-term NASA missions using
ion propulsion needed analysis data that required inspection of the
different engine components. In particular, the inspection of the
thruster's discharge chamber, where xenon gas is ionized, is critical
for mission designers of the upcoming Dawn mission. Dawn, part of
NASA's Discovery Program, will be launched in 2006 to orbit Vesta and
Ceres, two of the largest asteroids in the solar system.

"The chamber was in good condition, " said John Brophy, JPL's project
element manager for the Dawn ion propulsion system. "Most of the
components showed wear, but nothing that would have caused near-term
failure."

Marc Rayman, former Deep Space 1 project manager, said, "There are
many exciting missions into the solar system that would be
unaffordable or truly impossible without ion propulsion. This
remarkable test shows that the thrusters have the staying power for
long duration missions."

Ion engines use xenon, the same gas used in photo flash tubes, plasma
televisions and some automobile headlights. Deep Space 1 featured the
first use of an ion engine as the primary method of propulsion on a
NASA spacecraft. That engine was operated for 16,265 hours, the
record for operating any propulsion system in space. Ion propulsion
systems can be very lightweight, since they can run on just a few
grams of xenon gas a day. While the thrust exerted by the engine is
quite gentle, its fuel efficiency can reduce trip times and lower
launch vehicle costs. This makes it an attractive propulsion system
choice for future deep space missions.

"The engine remained under vacuum for the entire test, setting a new
record in ion engine endurance testing, a true testament to the
tremendous effort and skill of the entire team," said Anita Sengupta,
staff engineer in JPL's Advanced Propulsion Technology Group. "This
unique scientific opportunity benefits current and potential
programs."

"The dedicated work of NASA's Solar Electric Technology Application
Readiness test team, led by JPL, continues to exemplify a commitment
to engineering excellence," said Les Johnson, who leads the In-Space
Propulsion Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville,
Ala. "This work, along with significant contributions from NASA's
Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, will take NASA's space exploration
to the next level."

NASA's next-generation ion propulsion efforts are led by the In-Space
Propulsion Program, managed by the Office of Space Science at NASA
Headquarters and implemented by the Marshall Center. The program
seeks to develop advanced propulsion technologies that will help near
and mid-term NASA science missions by significantly reducing cost,
mass or travel times.

JPL is managed by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena
for NASA.

An image showing the thruster being removed from the vacuum chamber is
available at

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA04668 .

For more information on NASA and its programs, please see

http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ , and
http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/ .

- end -

  #2  
Old July 30th 03, 07:45 PM
Ultimate Buu
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Ion Engine Records No Tuneups, No Problems


"Ron Baalke" wrote in message
...

MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Nancy Lovato (818) 354-9382
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dom Amatore (256) 544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

News Release: 2003-105
July 30, 2003

Ion Engine Records No Tuneups, No Problems

The future is here for spacecraft propulsion and the trouble-free
engine performance that every vehicle operator would like, achieved by
an ion engine running for a record 30,352 hours at NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The engine is a spare of the Deep Space 1 ion engine used during a
successful technology demonstration mission that featured a bonus
visit to comet Borrelly. It had a design life of 8,000 hours, but
researchers kept it running for almost five years, from Oct. 5, 1998,
to June 26, 2003, in a rare opportunity to fully observe its
performance and wear at different power levels throughout the test.
This information is vital to future missions that will use ion
propulsion, as well as to current research efforts to develop improved
ion thrusters.

"Finding new means to explore our solar system - rapidly, safely and
with the highest possible return on investment - is a key NASA
mission," said Colleen Hartman, head of Solar System Exploration at
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. "Robust in-space flight
technologies such as ion propulsion are critical to this effort and
will pioneer a new generation of discovery among our neighboring
worlds."

While the engine had not yet reached the end of its life, the decision
was made to terminate the test because near-term NASA missions using
ion propulsion needed analysis data that required inspection of the
different engine components. In particular, the inspection of the
thruster's discharge chamber, where xenon gas is ionized, is critical
for mission designers of the upcoming Dawn mission. Dawn, part of
NASA's Discovery Program, will be launched in 2006 to orbit Vesta and
Ceres, two of the largest asteroids in the solar system.

"The chamber was in good condition, " said John Brophy, JPL's project
element manager for the Dawn ion propulsion system. "Most of the
components showed wear, but nothing that would have caused near-term
failure."

Marc Rayman, former Deep Space 1 project manager, said, "There are
many exciting missions into the solar system that would be
unaffordable or truly impossible without ion propulsion. This
remarkable test shows that the thrusters have the staying power for
long duration missions."

Ion engines use xenon, the same gas used in photo flash tubes, plasma
televisions and some automobile headlights. Deep Space 1 featured the
first use of an ion engine as the primary method of propulsion on a
NASA spacecraft. That engine was operated for 16,265 hours, the
record for operating any propulsion system in space. Ion propulsion
systems can be very lightweight, since they can run on just a few
grams of xenon gas a day. While the thrust exerted by the engine is
quite gentle, its fuel efficiency can reduce trip times and lower
launch vehicle costs. This makes it an attractive propulsion system
choice for future deep space missions.

"The engine remained under vacuum for the entire test, setting a new
record in ion engine endurance testing, a true testament to the
tremendous effort and skill of the entire team," said Anita Sengupta,
staff engineer in JPL's Advanced Propulsion Technology Group. "This
unique scientific opportunity benefits current and potential
programs."

"The dedicated work of NASA's Solar Electric Technology Application
Readiness test team, led by JPL, continues to exemplify a commitment
to engineering excellence," said Les Johnson, who leads the In-Space
Propulsion Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville,
Ala. "This work, along with significant contributions from NASA's
Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, will take NASA's space exploration
to the next level."

NASA's next-generation ion propulsion efforts are led by the In-Space
Propulsion Program, managed by the Office of Space Science at NASA
Headquarters and implemented by the Marshall Center. The program
seeks to develop advanced propulsion technologies that will help near
and mid-term NASA science missions by significantly reducing cost,
mass or travel times.

JPL is managed by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena
for NASA.


Just curious: If we ran this engine for 5 years continuously, how fast would
a spacecraft with a payload similar to DS1 (including needed fuel) be going
at the end of that period?



  #3  
Old July 30th 03, 11:12 PM
Hop David
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Posts: n/a
Default Ion Engine Records No Tuneups, No Problems

I guess SMART-1 is also using an ion engine.

What is the exhaust velocity of the xenon plasma?

Hop
http://clowder.net/hop/index.html

  #4  
Old July 31st 03, 10:03 AM
Doug Ellison
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Posts: n/a
Default Ion Engine Records No Tuneups, No Problems


"Hop David" wrote in message
...
I guess SMART-1 is also using an ion engine.

What is the exhaust velocity of the xenon plasma?


DS1's was 30 km/sec

Doug


 




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