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2007-10-01
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Performance Record for Ion Engine

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Deep Space 1 was launched almost ten years ago to test an ion impulse engine as a means of getting spacecraft further, faster and with less fuel. The DS1 paved the way for NASA’s new ion engine, the NEXT (NASA’S Evolutionary Xenon Thruster). In ground tests, NEXT has already exceeded expectations and recently surpassed the DS1’s engine performance. Unlike conventional space engines that provide a boost for a fixed amount of time, ion thrusters provide minuscule, yet continuous, thrust resulting in constant acceleration for a fraction of the fuel. According to the project team, "This test validates NEXT technology for a wide range of NASA solar system exploration missions, as well as the potential for Earth-space commercial ventures."

UPDATE: The NEXT continues to set records


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