Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Monday, August 10, 2009

DAWN resumes extended thrusting - June 30, 2009 and at Glenn Research - A more efficient spacecraft engine

Matt asked if I had heard anything about a new Voyager mission and I
didn't remember hearing anything so went looking with Google.
I found a mission, (IBEX Interstellar Boundary Explorer) that was
looking at the boundary of our Solar System, - - which made me think of the Voyagers and the
Pioneer 10-11 missions, but it is in an Earth like orbit.

The New Horizons mission to Pluto is going out there but more like the
Pioneer 10 craft than a Voyager.
Where is the New Horizons Spacecraft Now?

New Horizons Sees Changes in Jupiter System

New Horizons' voyage through the Jupiter system in 2007 provided a
bird's-eye view of a dynamic planet that has changed since the last
close-up looks by NASA spacecraft. A combination of trajectory, timing
and technology allowed it to explore details no probe had seen before,
such as lightning near Jupiter’s poles, the life cycle of fresh
ammonia clouds, boulder-size clumps speeding through the planet’s
faint rings, the structure inside volcanic eruptions on its moon Io,
and the path of charged particles traversing the previously unexplored
length of the planet’s long magnetic tail.


In the process of looking I also found reference to the DAWN mission
and ION propulsion.
The Voyager's 1 and 2, were just launched by chemical rockets and used
gravitational assists to flip them around the Solar System.

DAWN was launched with a Delta II Heavy Lift chemical rocket with 8
boosters, but it also has an ION Thruster to keep pushing it along.
- LRK -
Welcome to the Dawn Mission!

Dawn's goal is to characterize the conditions and processes of the
solar system's earliest epoch by investigating in detail two of the
largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formations. Ceres
and Vesta reside in the extensive zone between Mars and Jupiter
together with many other smaller bodies, called the asteroid belt.
Each has followed a very different evolutionary path constrained by
the diversity of processes that operated during the first few million
years of solar system evolution.

Here is a 13 minute video about the mission.

DAWN Mission Video

DAWN was in a coasting phase and new software was up-loaded for the computer.
They have now started the ION thruster with the new software and it
works. Whew!
That aught to have been a nail biter. You can read about it in the link below.
- LRK -

Dawn Resumes Extended Thrusting
June 30, 2009
Dawn resumed its routine of long-duration thrusting with its ion
propulsion system on June 8. The spacecraft is now following the same
pattern it used for most of 2008, with only a single weekly
interruption in thrusting to point the main antenna to Earth. Dawn had
spent most of the time since October 31, 2008 coasting. In contrast,
most of the time from now until arrival at Vesta will be devoted to

Glenn Research has been working on ION engines for some time and work
is being done to make ones bigger than flew on DAWN and DS1.

Tuning Up Ion Propulsion
by Administrator on August 5, 2009

A story on MIT’s Technology Review - - site looks at
ion propulsion, and specifically at improvements made in the
technology at Glenn Research Center. Comparing the recent work to the
engines used in the Deep Space 1 and Dawn missions, the story quotes
GRC’s Michael Patterson as saying, “We made it physically bigger, but
lighter, reduced the system’s complexity to extend its lifetime, and,
overall, improved its efficiency.”

That’s good news, of course, and Patterson presented it to the AIAA’s
Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit this week in Denver. With
sessions on everything from Electric Propulsion Thruster Wear and Life
Assessment to Advanced Propulsion Concepts, Denver was clearly the
place to be for propulsion mavens. An entire session was devoted to
the new ion thrust work, which goes under the name NASA’s Evolutionary
Xenon Thruster (NEXT).

and back here on Mother Earth -
- LRK -

NASA Science News for August 10, 2009

Like bugs streaking down the side window of a moving car, colorful
Perseid Earthgrazers could put on a pleasing show after sunset on
Tuesday, August 11th.



Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
Session 5- EP-3 NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) and Other
Gridded Ion Techology Development 505
Chaired by: M. CROFTON, The Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, CA, and
C. FARNELL, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Near-Term High Power Ion Propulsion Options for Earth-Orbital Applications
Michael J. Patterson* and Luis Pinero†
NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, 44135
James S. Sovey‡
AlphaPort Inc., Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, 44135

There is a convergence in requirements among various elements of the U.S. government
and commercial industry relative to high-power electric propulsion systems for arthorbital applications, and in the advancement of high power lightweight photovoltaic array technologies. Some of these requirements and capabilities align well with NASA electric propulsion technologies, and specifically ion propulsion. NASA’s investment strategy in electric propulsion over the last decade has established the ground work for the development of a number of high power ion thruster concepts, which have evolved to various levels of technology readiness. Some of these concepts could provide the basis for the development of flight ion propulsion systems consistent with Earth-orbital applications needs. This could
allow for the fielding of high power systems (20 – 80 kW) with single thruster power
handling capability of up to 20 kW and higher, and do so within a decade. This paper
identifies and examines a number of thruster options. Assessments of technology readiness level, development roadmaps, technology challenges, and schedule are provided.

DAWN Launch Archive

Spacecraft: Dawn
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 17-B
Launch Date: September 27, 2007
Launch Time: 7:34 a.m. EDT

Launch Video

NASA: All systems go on IBEX probe to map edge of solar system Onboard computer is running smoothly and solar-fed batteries are already fully charged
By Sharon Gaudin
October 20, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - NASA engineers are remotely testing systems aboard the IBEX spacecraft launched yesterday on a mission to map and capture images of the edge of the solar system.

And so far, said Eric Christian, program scientist for NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer program, all systems are go. The computer onboard the spacecraft, which was launched from a Pegasus rocket on Sunday, is already up and running, and the batteries are fully charged.




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