Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

NASA is Budgeting for 'Star Wars' Engines NASA is Budgeting for 'Star Wars' Engines

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Tech

NASA is Budgeting for 'Star Wars' Engines

Because how else will we land on asteroids?

A TIE fighter.(Flickr/kennymatic)

photo of Alex Brown
March 5, 2014

If NASA wants to land on an asteroid by 2025, it's going to need better ion thrusters.

You know, ion thrusters, the engines from Star Wars. TIE fighter, after all, stands for twin ion engine.

The agency's fiscal 2015 budget, released Tuesday, includes $133 million for the early stages of its mission to send astronauts to land on, capture, and redirect an asteroid. Included in its goals for the year? "Advancing solar electric propulsion and capture systems."

 

Solar electric propulsion is NASAspeak for ion thrusters, which hit xenon gas with an electrical charge, then emit it as exhaust at speeds of nearly 19 miles per second, propelling the spacecraft. That can send a ship at 10 times the speed of chemical propellants, though with much slower acceleration.

An ion thruster in action. (Courtesy of NASA)

NASA's plan is to use its advanced ion thrusters to send a long-range ship equipped with robotics to capture an asteroid. That ship will then pull the asteroid closer to Earth, where astronauts can land on and study it.

The agency's previous budget asked for $105 million for the asteroid program.

LIKE THIS STORY? Sign up for Tech Edge

Sign up for our daily newsletter and stay on top of tech coverage.

Sign up form for Tech Edge
Job Board
Search Jobs
Digital and Content Manager, E4C
American Society of Civil Engineers | New York, NY
PRODUCT REVIEW ENGINEER
American Society of Civil Engineers | CA
Neighborhood Traffic Safety Services Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Bellevue, WA
United Technologies Research Fellow
American Society of Civil Engineers | New York, NY
Process Engineering Co-op
American Society of Civil Engineers | Conshohocken, PA
Electrical Engineer Co-op
American Society of Civil Engineers | Findlay, OH
Application Engineer/Developer INTERN - Complex Fluids
American Society of Civil Engineers | Brisbane, CA
Application Engineer - Internships CAE/CFD Metro Detroit
American Society of Civil Engineers | Livonia, MI
Chief Geoscientist
American Society of Civil Engineers
Application Engineer - Internships CAE/CFD Metro Boston
American Society of Civil Engineers | Burlington, MA
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Civil Enginering Intern - Water/Wastewater/Site-Development
American Society of Civil Engineers | Sacramento, CA
Staff Accountant
American Society of Civil Engineers | Englewood, CO
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus