Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Sunday April 24, 2016

NASA Invests $67 Million Into Solar Electric Propulsion

I don’t know anything about the technology, but I do know that blue exhaust trails look cool.

News Image

Compared to chemical propulsion (the type of propulsion that rockets use to escape Earth’s gravity well and reach orbit), SEP has lower thrust but is more fuel-efficient and can provide thrust for longer periods of time. For these reasons, SEP works well in the vacuum of space, particularly on spacecraft with long mission lifetimes. SEP engines provide thrust by converting solar energy into electricity and using that electricity to accelerate ionized propellant at extremely high speeds. The iconic blue glow from a SEP thruster is created from photons released by the ions as they lose energy upon leaving the engine.