Launched by a space station using ion propulsion to orbit the Moon.

Launched by a space station using ion propulsion to orbit the Moon.

NASA collaborates with Maxer Technologies and the Busec Company. An ion drive with 6 kW output output was successfully tested. This propulsion system will become part of a larger and more powerful PPE module, which will act as the propulsion unit of the Gateway space station in lunar orbit. Informs NASA.

The most powerful drive tested, the Artemis program is in progress

The $ 375 million deal delivers the first real and interesting results. The ion propulsion system has undergone tests that mimic repeated shutdowns and restarts, which must be adjusted during orbit during the lunar orbit and later during service in the Artemis program.


An electric drive with an output of 6 kW is only a fraction of the total drive unit with an output of up to 50 kW, which should last for 15 years. The electric drive tested so far is up to 30% more powerful than anything Maxer and Busek have ever designed.

The propulsion system of the gateway station will take the form of a separate module and will be the most powerful spacecraft with electric ion propulsion. Still on Earth, it will be connected to a habitable module for logistics, developed by Nortrop Gruman and based on the design of the spacecraft Cygnus. They will be launched into Earth’s orbit using a Falcon heavy rocket.

How will Falcon Heavy-Ion Propulsion work instead of the spacecraft?

Ion propulsion is virtually useless for rockets launched from Earth, but for spacecraft and space probes it is by far the most effective means of propulsion. The ion drive ionizes a neutral gas, which then accelerates the ions through an electric field. The gas gradually neutralizes again and accelerates to 50 km / s as it exits the nozzle.

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In the case of ion propulsion, the drive efficiency reaches up to 80%, and the specific induction indicator of efficiency is 2000 – 5000 s. By comparison, conventional rocket engines used in rocket launches have a specific thrust of about 300 seconds – but they achieve very high ust power.


While the spacecraft is engaged in the construction of the International Space Station, the Gateway will launch the Falcon Heavy into space like other modules. New Glen space where most of the space stations can be carried into space due to the vast cargo.

European elements will later appear at the Gateway StationFor example, the French-Italian company Thales Alenia won a $ 296 million contract in the form of a communications, infrastructure and refueling module. Universe Today writes.

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