Solar electric propulsion

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The Dawn spacecraft's Xenon tank prior to integration with spacecraft. The Xenon was the propellant for the solar-power ion drive of the spacecraft which would go on to orbit two different asteroids in the early 21st century

Solar electric propulsion typically refers to the combination of solar cells and ion drive for propelling a spacecraft through outer space.[1] This technology has been studied by NASA and is considered promising.[1]

The main concept is a nexus of Solar panels on spacecraft and ion thruster. However, there are a number of other types of electrically powered spacecraft propulsion such as the Arcjet. It may not employ an ion drive, of which there are a variety of types also.

It is also possible to generate electricity from the Sun without using photovoltaic panels, such as with solar concentrators and a Stirling engine.

Possible examples[edit]

Other types of spacecraft propulsion[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mohon, Lee. "Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP)". NASA. Retrieved 2016-04-24.