Ion Thruster Engine from NASA operated over 5 and a half years nonstop

07/03/2013 - 00:00

 A NASA advanced ion propulsion engine has successfully operated for more than 48,000 hours, or 5 and a half years, making it the longest test duration of any type of space propulsion system demonstration project ever.

The thruster was developed under NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Glenn manufactured the test engine's core ionization chamber. Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, Calif., designed and built the ion acceleration assembly.

The 7-kilowatt class thruster could be used in a wide range of science missions, including deep space missions identified in NASA's Planetary Science Decadal Survey.