Swiss researchers said yesterday that they have built a mini-motor which they claim could reduce the costs of satellite launches by 10 times. This invention could possibly allow for a new age where space exploration costs less. Scientists based at the Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne have managed to build a prototype of the said “low-cost” motor that weighs in a very light 200grams. The mini-motor runs on an “ionic” liquid which is a chemical compound as opposed to fuel.
Using truly breakthrough technology, the motor generates thrust through a process in which ions are extracted from the liquid compound and ejected through an electric field. The motor which has been designed for small satellites would have the cruising speed while in space of about 42,000kmh (26,100mph).
According to the scientists’ calculations, a 1-kilogramme (2.2 pounds) nanosatellite fitted with the mini-motor would need to travel for about six months to reach lunar orbit and in the process, only burn through 100ml (3.38oz) of the liquid which fuels it. Reportedly, the first satellite which will be equipped with the motor will be Space’s vacuum cleaner, CleanSpace One which is said to be able to grab debris and put it into Earth’s orbit for incineration.
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