January 17, 2021


NASA develops a new engine that will be able to send us to mars very easily and fast. One-day if we journey from Earth to Mars and other far-off destinations, we might need new kinds of engine. Engineers are exploring revolutionary new technologies that could help us traverse the Solar System in much less time.

The NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster project at Glenn Research Center is an ion thruster about three times as powerful as the NSTAR used on Dawn and Deep Space 1 spacecraft.

The Xenon Thruster is a type of Hall thruster, a design that uses a stream of ions to propel a spacecraft. Plasma is expelled to generate thrust, producing far greater speeds than are possible with chemical propulsion rockets, according to NASA.


The NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) engine is a type of solar electric propulsion in which thruster systems use the electricity generated by the spacecraft’s solar panel to accelerate the xenon propellant to speeds of up to 90,000 mph. 

NEXT can produce 6.9 kW thrust power and 236 mN thrust. It can be throttled down to 0.5 kW power, and has a specific impulse of 4190 seconds (compared to 3120 for NSTAR). The NEXT thruster has demonstrated a total impulse of 17 MN; which is the highest total impulse ever demonstrated by an ion thruster. 

A beam extraction area 1.6 times that of NSTAR allows higher thruster input power while maintaining low voltages and ion current densities, thus maintaining thruster longevity.