NASA Glenn engineer Dr. Peter Peterson prepares a high-power Hall thruster for ground testing in a vacuum chamber that simulates the environment in space.
In the image, Peterson can be seen preparing the high-power thruster – a device that the agency says is ‘critical’ in the future of deep space exploration.
Called the Hall Effect Rocket with Magnetic Shielding (HERMeS), the device operates at 12.5 kW, making it far more powerful than current systems.
The agency plans to use these thrusters with solar electric propulsion (SEP) systems, which would allow for more cost-effective exploration of deep space, using 10 times less propellant than other systems.
The electrostatic Hall thrusters are equipped with advanced magnetic shielding, and are designed to provide ‘gentle but nonstop’ thrust for the duration of a mission.
Several Hall thrusters will be used for the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM), operating at a total power of 40 kW with solar array wings that will supply 50 kW overall.