NASA is revealing more details on its experimental new Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS). Designed for the 2025 Gateway mission, the AEPS is a breakthrough the space agency is calling a “truly next-generation technology” that it says will “change the in-space propulsion game.”
NASA and its partners Aerojet-Rocketdyne caution that there is still more testing to be done on the cutting-edge propulsion system. However, they also say the Advanced Electric Propulsion system, which is reportedly nearly three times more powerful than the current state-of-the-art Hall thrusters, is expected to be ready for the 2025 launch.
Advanced Electric Propulsion System Boasts Significantly Higher Thrust
As of 2023, all satellites and other spacecraft are launched using chemical propellant. Once in orbit, virtually all use similar systems to maneuver in the vacuum of space.
More recently, breakthroughs in electric propulsion are allowing mission planners to look deeper into space and farther into the future than ever before. That’s mainly because electric propulsion systems like Hall thrusters use a combination of solar power and chemical propellants to dramatically reduce the fuel a satellite or other spacecraft needs to carry. The result is longer missions that can travel deeper and deeper into space.
Now, NASA says they are ready to dramatically alter the in-space propulsion game by introducing the most powerful solar electric propulsion system ever constructed: the AEPS.
“AEPS is truly a next-generation technology,” said Clayton Kachele, the AEPS project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland earlier this summer. “Current electric propulsion systems use around four and a half kilowatts of power, whereas here we’re significantly increasing power in a single thruster.”
In fact, according to the latest data on AEPS, the power output has nearly tripled to 12 kilowatts. “That capability opens a world of…