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NASA to Solar Power the New Generation Spacecraft

The DART spacecraft was recently launched by NASA to test a mechanism for defending Earth against hazardous asteroids. According to, the DART mission is also putting numerous new technologies to the test. One of them is a photovoltaic-powered propulsion system. Solar electric propulsion is the name of the technology. The system does not require big, heavy fuel tanks because it runs on solar power rather than petroleum-based engines.

If effective, the technique might be used to power a new generation of spacecraft. Solar electric propulsion, according to NASA experts, might be critical to the agency’s future exploration goals. This might involve planned missions to the moon and Mars for astronauts. NEXT-C is the name of the solar-powered system used in the DART mission. It was designed by NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio and manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, a rocket manufacturer.

The technology is based on systems that have previously been employed on NASA spacecraft on asteroid exploration missions. According to scientists working on the NEXT-C project, the new system will be “about three times as powerful” as previous systems. The majority of propulsion systems rely on fuels to generate chemical reactions that provide push and propel the spaceship forward. NEXT-C is a propulsion system that converts xenon gas into xenon ions using electricity.

The ions produce the push that propels the spaceship forward. Large solar collectors convert sunlight into power. DART’s main propulsion system is not NEXT-C. It was included in the mission to see how well it worked. The technology, on the other hand, will be the primary propulsion system for planned Psyche expedition.

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