Researcher Calculates Optimal Trajectories to Mars and Mercury for a Spacecraft With Electric Propulsion

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September 24, 2019 | Originally published by on

RUDN University mathematician has proposed a method for calculating the optimal trajectory of spacecraft with electric propulsion, whose thrust is thousands times less than chemical one has, but it is able to work for years. These motors are best suited for interplanetary missions. Mathematicians calculated the flight parameters of the space probe with such motor to Mars and Mercury. The paper is published in the journal Cosmic Research.

Chemical rocket engines create a large thrust, which allows bringing tons of cargo in orbit for a few minutes. At the same time, a huge amount of fuel is consumed. Once the spacecraft is in outer space, a large thrust becomes unnecessary, especially for automatic interplanetary stations that can fly to their destination for years.

An electric propulsion system (EPS) is better suited for such missions. The propellant in an electric propulsion system is ionized gas, which is accelerated in a magnetic field. Due to the low consumption of the propellant, the EPS is able to work for a very long time.


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