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august 15, 2000 |
deep space 1 propulsion record

NASA's Deep Space 1 probe is the first spacecraft to use this important technology as its primary means of propulsion; was launched in October 1998 as part of NASA's New Millennium Program. The spacecraft, designed to test new technologies, has run its unique propulsion system for more than 200 days (4,800 hours), longer and more efficiently than anything ever launched.

The ion drive emits only an eerie blue glow as ionized (electrically charged) atoms of xenon are pushed out of the engine. The almost imperceptible thrust from the system is equivalent to the pressure exerted by a sheet of paper held in the palm of your hand. The ion engine is very slow to pick up speed, but over the long haul it can deliver 10 times as much thrust per pound of fuel as more traditional rockets.

"The *ion propulsion engine* on Deep Space 1 has now accumulated more operating time in space than any other propulsion system in the history of the space program," said John Brophy, manager of the NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Applications Readiness project, at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.
{imago}PEPE - plasma experiment for planetary exploration
Deep Space 1 Spacecraft Keeps Going . . . And Going . . .
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