Boeing begins NASA solar electric propulsion study

Boeing has started work on a four-month NASA contract to develop a mission concept study for solar electric propulsion technologies.

The US$600,000 contract involves Boeing evaluating concepts that combine high-power solar arrays with advanced electric thrusters to power spacecraft and payloads to high Earth orbit and deep space destinations.

“Boeing pioneered the use of electric propulsion, and has developed an approach to integrate compact, lightweight, and highly efficient solar arrays with next-generation electric thrusters in future spacecraft,” said Steve Johnston, director of Boeing Phantom Works’ advanced space exploration division.

“This technology offers weight and cost advantages while enabling increased on-orbit manoeuverability for satellites in Earth orbit, and efficient deep space transportation for human exploration and robotic science missions.”

Boeing is one of five contractors chosen to develop a mission concept to demonstrate solar electric propulsion technologies, capabilities and the infrastructure required to affordably sustain a human presence in space.

Phantom Works will conduct the study in Huntington Beach with support from Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems electric power and propulsion experts in El Segundo, California.

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