NASA develops a plasma engine for flight to Mars
At the moment, the bet is made on a variant with a plasma engine, which largely meets these requirements. A laboratory prototype engine under the conventional name X3 has already been created, accelerating the plasma flow to a speed of 72405 km / h.
According to the calculations of specialists, the plasma engine will consume 100 million times less fuel than the “classic” spacecraft. Such a high efficiency will allow not only to reach Mars, but also the outskirts of the solar system.
X3 was created by engineers at the University of Michigan of advanced space technology. The engine is part of the Aerojet Rocketdyne’s XR-100 system, which in the next 10 years could deliver a spacecraft to Mars.
In addition to X3, two more models are participating in the Martian “casting”. However, X3 has already given them a head start, since it reached the design capacity of 200 kW with small dimensions and weight.
The basis of X3 is the principle of the ion engine, which operates on the Hall effect. Low-powered engines built on this technology have long been used for maneuvering satellites in near – earth orbit.