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Technology Demonstration Missions

Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP)

Active Technology Project

Project Description

An advanced electric propulsion system could potentially increase spaceflight transportation fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion technology. The next step will be to demonstrate this new electric propulsion system in space. Development of this technology will advance future in-space transportation capability for a variety of deep space human and robotic exploration missions as well as private commercial space missions.

The Solar Electric Propulsion Project shall develop and qualify an advanced 12 kW magnetically shielded EP Hall thruster applicable to human/robotic exploration and commercial spaceflight missions, including the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). The work done under this project, contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne for thruster design and build, will fabricate and test two qualification thrusters through both environmental as well as 23,000 hours of life qualification testing. The technology will enable the use of high power electric propulsion systems for long term missions such as cargo transports to Mars.

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Anticipated Benefits

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