DailyDirt: Spaceworthy Engines That Will Take Us 'To Infinity And Beyond!'
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- MIT researchers have developed a penny-sized rocket thruster that runs on jets of ion beams. The thruster is flat and square, like a computer chip, and covered with 500 microscopic tips that emit ion beams strong enough to propel a shoebox-sized satellite. Placing several of these thrusters on a small satellite could enable it to move to change its orbit, as well as turn and roll. [url]
- Engineers in the UK are testing some key technology for a propulsion system that could one day take a spaceplane, like the Skylon vehicle, straight into orbit without all the multiple propellant stages required with current throw-away rockets. The Sabre propulsion system, which is part jet engine and part rocket engine, burns hydrogen and oxygen to provide thrust. [url]
- Researchers at The Australian National University are working on a plasma thruster that could eventually be used to send satellites to Mars. The plasma thruster could be ready by 2014, and initial missions will attempt to send old satellites into "graveyard" orbits using the thruster. [url]
- The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA are both testing solar sail technology as a form of primary propulsion for spacecraft. The solar sail technology relies on the concept that surfaces exposed to electromagnetic radiation will experience "radiation pressure," which exerts a small pushing force against the surface. Japan's Ikaros 27-square-meter solar sail gets only 0.0002 pounds of force due to radiation pressure from the sun, but over a long period of time, incredibly high speeds could be achieved. [url]