Might solar electric space consider us? Nasa prizes $67-million agreement to build up the engineering for space missions that are deep

Nasa is betting on advanced solar-electric propulsion technology to explore the outer reaches of our solar system.  The space agency today awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne of Redmond, Washington, a $67 million contract to help develop the technology. Pictured is a Hall thruster electric propulsion unit in operation

Nasa is betting on innovative solar-electric propulsion technology to investigate the outer reaches of our solar system.

In a step towards that aim, the space agency now given Aerojet Rocketdyne of Redmond, Washington, a $67 million contract.

This includes the development of Hall thrusters and ion drives which could possibly raise spaceflight transport fuel efficiency by 10 times over substance propulsion technology that is present, in accordance with Nasa.

Push capacity could additionally more than double in comparison to electrical propulsion systems that are present.

‘Development of the technology will improve our future in-space transfer capacity for private commercial space missions, in addition to an assortment of Nasa deep space human and robotic exploration missions.’
Shown here is a 13-kilowatt Hall thruster being evaluated at Nasa's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Hall thrusters trap electrons in a magnetic field and use them to ionize the onboard propellant. It uses 10 times less propellant than equivalent chemical rockets
Aerojet Rocketdyne will manage the development of an electric propulsion system comprising a thruster, power processing unit (PPU), low pressure xenon flow control, and electrical harness.

Nasa has developed and tested PPU and a prototype thruster the firm can use as a benchmark layout.

The firm will build, examine and produce an engineering development unit for assessment and testing in preparation for making the follow on flight units.

During the option period of the contract, the firm will develop, confirm and provide four electrical propulsion units which will fly in space.

This work will complement recent innovative solar array systems work, additionally financed by STMD.
A group of physicists in California is working on spacecraft that could let humans reach the nearest stars in our solar system - a challenge that is not possible with current propulsion technology. The answer could lie in what's known as photonic propulsion, a technique that uses light from lasers to produce thrust (illustrated)
Accelerate and electricity is subsequently used to ionize propellant to generate thrust.

Nasa expects solar arrays will generate the electrical power to run this complex electric propulsion flight system in space using arrangements much like those that were developed under the solar array systems contracts.

The space agency has been refining development of spaceflight electrical propulsion technology for over five decades, the first successful ion electrical propulsion thruster being developed in the 1950s at Glenn.

Since that time, Nasa has relied on solar electric propulsion for long-duration, deep space robotic science and exploration assignments to multiple destinations, the most recent being the Dawn assignment of Nasa.

The Dawn mission, managed by JPL, studied the giant asteroid the protoplanet, Ceres, between 2011 and 2015 and Vesta.

The innovative electrical propulsion system is another step in Nasa’s Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) job.

ARM, Nasa’s mission to gain an asteroid boulder and put it in orbit around the moon in the mid-2020s, will examine the most complex and biggest SEP system used for space missions.