SMART Technology: Moon Mission to Test Solar Engine With No Limits
By Heather Sparks
posted: 07:00 am ET
31 July 2002
Electric power and ion propulsion are about to combine for only the second time to propel a spacecraft beyond Earth orbit. Next April the European Space Agency's SMART-1 lunar satellite heads off to explore the Moon from an orbital position.
Electric propulsion has been used in low-Earth telecommunications satellites for years, and a high-tech ion engine powered NASA's Deep Space 1 test craft from 1998 until late last year. But before this technology is ready for prime-time missions to other planets and beyond, more tests are needed.