Step Aside, Rockets – Ion Engines Are the Future of Space Travel

The NASA spacecraft Dawn has spent more than seven years traveling across the solar system to intercept the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. Now in orbit around Ceres, the probe has returned the first images and data from these distant objects.

But inside Dawn itself is another first – the spacecraft is the first exploratory space mission to use an electrically-powered ion engine rather than conventional rockets.

Such ion engines will propel the next generation of spacecraft.

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