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Latest Ion thruster Stories

2011-04-06 16:08:00

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, and NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) announced today that they have successfully operated a Japanese HAYABUSA low power microwave ion engine at Aerojet's facility in Redmond, Wash. These ion propulsion systems provide propellant efficiencies more than 10 times higher than those of conventional propulsion systems for use on low Earth orbit, geosynchronous and deep space missions. This test is an...

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2010-10-11 07:40:00

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., collaborated with NASA's White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, N.M., and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, Calif., to successfully complete a series of thruster tests at the White Sands test facility. The test will aid in maneuvering and landing the next generation of robotic lunar landers that could be used to explore the moon's surface and other airless celestial bodies. The Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project at...

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2010-09-29 13:33:36

Following recovery from a glitch that prevented ESA's GOCE gravity mission from sending any scientific data to the ground, the satellite has been gently brought back down to its operational altitude and resumed normal service "“ delivering the most detailed gravity data to date. Data from GOCE will result in a unique model of the "Ëœgeoid', which is the surface of an ideal global ocean at rest. It is a crucial reference for accurately measuring ocean circulation,...

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2010-08-20 13:35:00

Let the countdown begin. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is less than one year away from giant asteroid Vesta.  "There's nothing more exciting than revealing an unexplored, alien world," says Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Vesta," he predicts, "is going to amaze us." Dawn is slated to enter orbit around Vesta in late July 2011. As the first breathtaking images are beamed back to Earth, researchers will quickly combine them into a movie, allowing us all to...

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2010-06-30 08:21:16

Engineers are studying the reaction wheels on NASA's Dawn spacecraft after automatic sensors detected excess friction building up in one of them and powered it off early on the morning of June 17, 2010. Reaction wheels spin to help a spacecraft maintain attitude control, and Dawn, which is exploring the asteroid belt, uses three wheels in normal operations. The three other reaction wheels are functioning normally. Mission managers said plans for Dawn to visit the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and...

2010-06-14 15:59:00

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that it has signed an agreement with NEC Corporation (TSE:6701) to jointly supply HAYABUSA-derived ion propulsion systems for the U.S. and Japanese aerospace markets. These ion propulsion systems provide significant advantages for geosynchronous satellites and deep space missions through fuel efficiencies over 10 times higher than those of conventional propulsion systems. The...

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2010-06-08 07:15:00

Deep in the heart of the asteroid belt, on its way to the first of the belt's two most massive inhabitants, NASA's ion-propelled Dawn spacecraft has eclipsed the record for velocity change produced by a spacecraft's engines. The previous standard-bearer for velocity change, NASA's Deep Space 1, also impelled by ion propulsion, was the first interplanetary spacecraft to use this technology. The Deep Space 1 record fell on Saturday, June 5, when the Dawn spacecraft's accumulated acceleration...

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2010-06-07 11:40:00

Japanese asteroid probe Hayabusa has now been placed on course to land in Australia for its return to Earth. The spacecraft is returning home from its 2005 venture to the asteroid Itokawa. Hayabusa has achieved a crucial engine firing to aim the probe at the Woomera Protected Area in southern Australia on June 13. The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) said that Hayabusa had successfully completed its third Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM), which is designed to guide the spacecraft for its...

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2010-05-31 09:20:00

The Hayabusa Japanese spacecraft, which is designed to return samples from an asteroid back to Earth, has completed an important step on its journey back. The unmanned craft achieved the second and largest of four engine firings designed to guide the probe back home. The probe visited the asteroid Itokawa in 2005 in order to capture soil during its journey. However, the mission has been filled with technical glitches affecting the engines and communications with Earth. It is still unclear...

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2010-05-05 06:35:00

"Standard orbit, Mr. Sulu." Captain Kirk barks out the order with such confidence. He knows the USS Enterprise can slip in and out of planetary orbits with ease. But it's only easy in the realm of science fiction. In the real world, such maneuvers have been impossible --until now. Enter Dawn, NASA's cutting edge mission to the asteroid belt. Powered with a futuristic sounding new technology called "ion propulsion," this spacecraft will perform space moves rivaling those of the Enterprise. At...