[amsat-bb] Re: spaceflight(launch) question
G0MRF at aol.com
Sat Nov 1 02:44:48 PDT 2008
As far as I am aware, Ion thrusters need a lot of DC power, although low
power (80W or so) have been developed.
But there are still two problems. One is the restrictions on propellent on
the ISS / shuttle. Even though Xenon gas is 'harmless' it still posses a hazard
due to fuel tank pressure and a contamination risk if it leaks into the
The other problem is the thrust developed by a small Ion drive is really
very small. Probably less than 10 milli Newtons. Given the drag on the solar
panels at 350km, it may be that the thrust is too little to overcome the drag.
Pulsed plasma technology may be better as it only needs Teflon and DC power,
so no risk to crew.
But propulsion on a LEO as a concept has to be a winner.
In a message dated 01/11/2008 03:12:10 GMT Standard Time,
sparkycivic at shaw.ca writes:
I was wondering... An question just occured to me that I couldn't answer: If
a small satellite were hand-launched from the space station, and it
contained an ion-drive motor powered by electricity, would it ever be able to
accelerate in order to gain a higher orbit, or would that require an impracically
large power supply/engine? In other words, could that method be used to
achieve higher orbits with communication/ham class satellites without having to
use the typical large rocket we've been using all this time? Also, would there
be a cost-advantage to this method?
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