Ion Thruster Sets World Record Beam be up and engage the ion Drive! Seemingly right out of Star Trek NASA has been using ION drives for some time now. The Dawn mission is currently using the first generation ion engine to visit asteroids. Looking at the engine it even looks like the Star Trek Thrusters, The benefit of these engines is they can provide a thrust for a long period of time, but at low levels. While the Dawn spacecraft is visiting the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, NASA Glenn has been developing the next generation of ion thrusters for future missions. NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project has developed a 7-kilowatt ion thruster that can provide the capabilities needed in the future. An ion thruster produces small levels of thrust relative to chemical thrusters, but does so at higher specific impulse (or higher exhaust velocities), which means that an ion thruster has a fuel efficiency of 10-12 times greater than a chemical thruster. The higher the rocket’s specific impulse (fuel efficiency), the farther the spacecraft can [...]
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In November 2012 SpaceX’s Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) flies nearly two stories (17.7 feet/5.4 meters). Duration was 8 seconds using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. SpaceX is one of the leaders in private rocket development and is working to develop vehicles that are fully and rapidly reusable. a key element to radically reducing cost and increasing the efficiency of spaceflight. At ten stories tall the Grasshopper test vehicle is composed of a Falcon 9 first stage, a Merlin-1D engine, four steel landing legs. SpaceX will test the vehicle in higher and higher flights as the test program progresses. For more information about SpaceX, visit: http://spacex.com
Core Stage Passes Major Milestone, Ready to Start Construction HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The team designing America’s new flagship rocket has completed successfully a major technical review of the vehicle’s core stage. NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will take the agency’s Orion spacecraft and other payloads beyond low-Earth orbit, providing a new capability for human exploration. The core stage preliminary design review (PDR) was held Thursday at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and included representatives from the agency and The Boeing Co. Boeing’s Exploration Launch Systems in Huntsville is the prime contractor for the core stage and its avionics. Marshall manages the SLS Program. “Passing a preliminary design review within 12 months of bringing Boeing on contract shows we are on track toward meeting a 2017 launch date,” said Tony Lavoie, manager of the SLS Stages Element at Marshall. “We can now allow those time-critical areas of design to move forward with initial fabrication and proceed toward the final design phase — culminating in a critical design review in 2014 — with confidence.” [...]