European Space Agency’s new Ion thruster runs on thin air

European Space Agency’s new Ion thruster runs on thin air

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF When satellites and rockets burn all their fuel they inevitably fall back to Earth and crash, but what if they didn’t need to carry fuel in the first place? That would change the economics of space flight…   While ion thrusters are a promising propulsion...

Read more
NASA’s new ion thruster smashes all the records

NASA’s new ion thruster smashes all the records

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF Chemical rockets are big, bulky and expensive, and once they run out of fuel they’re useless, Ion thrusters operate without fuel and could help propel humanity beyond our solar system.   A thruster that’s being developed for a future NASA mission to Mars broke several records during...

Read more
Plasma jet engines get ready for real world trials

Plasma jet engines get ready for real world trials

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF Plasma engines are the stuff of science fiction, and now it looks like they’re ready to come out of the labs and push new limits.   Imagine a jet engine that could propel an aircraft faster than a traditional engine and take it all the...

Read more
NASA’s possible-impossible plasma engine roars into life

NASA’s possible-impossible plasma engine roars into life

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF It’s inevitable that humanity will one day become an interstellar species and engines like these might be the ones to get us there, wherever “there” is.   Franklin Chang-Díaz bounds up a handful of stairs and looks through a porthole cut into the side of...

Read more