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## NASA's Ion Thruster Sets Continuous Operation Record165

cylonlover writes "NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) ion engine has set a new world record by clocking 43,000 hours of continuous operation at NASA's Glenn Research Center's Electric Propulsion Laboratory. The seven-kilowatt thruster is intended to propel future NASA deep space probes on missions where chemical rockets aren't a practical option. The NEXT is one of NASA's latest generation of engines. With a power output of seven kilowatts, it's over twice as powerful as the ones used aboard the unmanned Dawn space probe, yet it is simpler in design, lighter and more efficient, and is also designed for very high endurance. Its current record of 43,000 hours is the equivalent of nearly five years of continuous operation while consuming only 770 kg (1697.5 lbs) of xenon propellant. The NEXT engine (PDF) would provide 30 million newton-seconds of total impulse to a spacecraft. What this means in simple terms is that the NEXT engine can make a spacecraft go (eventually) very far and very fast."
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## NASA's Ion Thruster Sets Continuous Operation Record

• #### Re:Given that we aren't actually simpletons... (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday December 28, 2012 @10:25AM (#42410689) Homepage

My calculations would say it probably went at a speed of around 0km/second, placing it now around 0km from Earth after 5 years.

• #### Re:Given that we aren't actually simpletons... (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday December 28, 2012 @10:34AM (#42410725)
Check your maths. My calculations place it about .001 km from Earth...
• #### Re:Xenon? (Score:4, Funny)

on Friday December 28, 2012 @11:24AM (#42411011)

I thought to use something as fuel in an ion thruster, it has to be able to ionize? Xenon is about as inert as it gets and really isn't useful for anything because nothing reacts with it in any way. In fact, wasn't hydrogen or something the typical fuel for an ion thruster? Can one of the hundred or so ion thruster engineers that are likely here on slashdot (lol) explain it to us?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_thruster [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenon [wikipedia.org]
You figure out the rest.

• #### Re:Cool... (Score:5, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 28, 2012 @11:31AM (#42411055)

That's still a lot of time to spend in Kansas.

• #### Re:Ion thrusters (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday December 28, 2012 @12:03PM (#42411229) Journal

And first put on a small one man fighter called the Twin Ion Engine fighter in 1977.

• #### Re:Given that we aren't actually simpletons... (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday December 28, 2012 @12:13PM (#42411279) Homepage

Maybe they mean "continuous" operation the way ISP's mean "unlimited" bandwidth?

• #### Re:Cool (Score:5, Funny)

<kensama@vt.edu> on Friday December 28, 2012 @12:16PM (#42411307) Homepage Journal
The villainous Tie fighter pilot straps in, ready to squash the rebellion once and for all. He charges his heavy blasters, straps into the seat, and twists the knob for full throttle, feeling the exhilarating rush of a barely perceptible acceleration and the knowledge that in two or three years time he will be moving at a pretty good clip, just so long as he never has to change directions.
• #### Re:Ion thrusters (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:06PM (#42411681)

And first put on a small one man fighter called the Twin Ion Engine fighter in 1977.

But it was short range only, and couldn't operate far from base.

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