• Log In
  • Sign Up
    • MIT researchers have successfully achieved heavier than air flight with an aircraft that has no moving parts. Super cool. Not sure how this will scale up but they seem pretty confident that before too long it could be used for light craft like drones. Silent flight. I'm curious how ion propulsion would work in space since there is no air.

    • The Deep Space 1 spacecraft successfully used ion drive starting in 1998, and many satellites use ion thrusters to adjust orientation and orbits. Newton's third law applies everywhere. They do have to carry matter to be ionized--DS1 used xenon gas. Space is actually easier for them to operate in as there is no air resistance and weaker gravity to overcome. The main challenge is to achieve high enough voltage while keeping the weight down. This was a big accomplishment.

    • How much matter would they need to carry to use ion propulsion to get to Proxima Centauri for example? Sorry I am an absolute neophyte on such technologies though I find them very compelling and exciting.

    • It would depend on how much of a hurry you are in, I guess. The more mass you have, the more force it takes to accelerate, so it's an optimization problem. I'm sure rocket scientists know the answer, but I certainly don't 😁


    • I'm in a hurry. I want to go there next week and find out what that exoplanet is like. So long as I'm back for the start of the 2019 Supercross season I don't mind a bit of a wait. I guess FTL travel is the only option. Is anyone booking flights there yet?

    • Interesting, I didn't know MIT has a basketball court... OK just kidding.

      Ion drives are every boy's fantasy. Using ion as main propulsion or maneuvering thrusters is completely different from each other and from ion drives in an atmosphere on Earth. Their solution needs to be improved by several orders (energy efficiency and thrust density) to be viable.