‘Cruise Control’ for Spacecraft

This laboratory in a leafy part of Hampshire is where defence and security firm Qinetiq develops and tests its ion engines 𗾤 a technology that will take spacecraft to the planets, powered by the Sun. Ion engines are an electric propulsion system. They make use of the fact that a current flowing across a magnetic field creates an electric field directed sideways to the current. This is used to accelerate a beam of ions (charged atoms) of xenon away from the spacecraft, thereby providing thrust

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