Encyclopedia Astronautica
Electric/Xenon


The many versions of electric engines use electric or magnetic fields to accelerate ionized elements to high velocity, creating thrust. The power source can be a nuclear reactor or thermal-electric generator, or solar panels. Proposed as propellant for some ion motors.

Oxidizer: Electric. Fuel: Xenon. Fuel Freezing Point: -112 deg C. Fuel Boiling Point: -107 deg C.

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Associated Spacecraft
  • TMK-E Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 1960. Feoktistov felt that the TMK-1 manned Mars flyby design was too limited. His design group proposed in 1960 a complete Mars landing expedition, to be assembled in earth orbit using two or more N1 launches. More...
  • KK Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 1966. Work on the TMK project continued, including trajectory trade-off studies and refinement of the design. More...
  • MEK Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 1969. The Mars Expeditionary Complex (MEK) was designed to take a crew of from three to six to Mars and back with a total mission duration of 630 days. More...
  • Mars 1986 Russian manned Mars expedition. Studied 1978-1986. NPO Energia resumed study of a Mars project once development began of the new Energia booster in place of the cancelled N1. More...
  • Mars 1989 Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 1989. In 1989 yet another Mars project was proposed by NPO Energia. More...
  • Interorbital Tug Russian space tug. Cancelled 1991. Upper stage / space tug - nuclear electric space tug, to be launched by Energia-2. Developed 1978-1991, ultimately cancelled. More...
  • STCAEM SEP American manned Mars expedition. Study 1991. The solar electric propulsion (SEP) Mars transfer concept was the only non-nuclear advanced propulsion option in the STCAEM study. More...
  • Deep Space 1 American asteroid probe. One launch, 1998.10.24. Deep Space 1 (DS1) was a primarily a technology demonstration probe powered by an ion engine, although the spacecraft also flew by asteroid and cometary targets. More...
  • Marpost Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 2000. In December 2000 Leonid Gorshkov of RKK Energia proposed a manned Mars orbital expedition as an alternative to Russian participation in the International Space Station. More...
  • Dawn American asteroid probe. One launch, 2007.09.27. Asteroid belt unmanned probe designed to first orbit and survey the asteroid Vesta, and then fly on to the largest asteroid, Ceres. Orbit asteroids Ceres and Vesta. More...

Associated Engines
  • 11B97 Korolev nuclear electric/xenon rocket engine. 450 mN. Engine for Interorbital Tug for launch by Energia. Developed 1978-1986. Isp=3000s. Powered by nuclear reactor providing 50-150 kWt for 3 to 5 years operation. More...
  • Aerojet 50kW Redmond electric/xenon rocket engine. Effort 2001-2003 developed a 50 kW Hall thruster in parallel to NASA's in-house development of the NASA-457M thruster. More...
  • BPT-2000 Redmond electric/xenon rocket engine. 120 mN. In Production. Hall effect thruster. Nominal power input 2200 W at 350 V. Isp=1765s. More...
  • BPT-4000 Redmond electric/xenon rocket engine. 270 mN. In Production. Hall effect thruster. Nominal power input 4500 W at 350 V. Isp=1950s. More...
  • BPT-600k Redmond electric/xenon rocket engine. 0.030 kN. In Development, 2005-2006. Isp=1800s. Began as 1995 contract for 600kWe Hall thruster electric propulsion system designed for future interplanetary manned spacecraft. More...
  • D-100-II TsNIIMASH electric/xenon rocket engine. 65 mN. Development. Isp=1600s. Hall effect thruster with anode layer, designed for satellite orbital raising. Taken to engineering model stage. More...
  • D-20 TsNIIMASH electric/xenon rocket engine. 1.5 mN. Development. Isp=1400s. Hall effect thruster with anode layer, designed for satellite station-keeping and attitude control. Taken to engineering model stage. More...
  • D50 Yuzhnoye electric/xenon rocket engine. 48 mN. Development. Isp=1700s. Hall engine electric jet propulsion system intended for use by spacecraft for inter-orbital transfer, orbit correction, and stabilization. More...
  • Hall Electric Thruster TsNIIMASH / Rocketdyne electric/xenon rocket engine. 3 N. Development. Isp=1600s. Satellite orbit raising and station-keeping applications. Electric, pressure-fed. Variable 80 mN - 3.0 N thrust, specific impulse 1600 to 3500 seconds. More...
  • HIVHAC NASA Cleveland electric/xenon rocket engine. 430 mN. Isp=2800s. HIVHAC offered mission benefits compared to the 4000s NEXT engine for deep space missions. More...
  • NASA-457M NASA Cleveland electric/xenon rocket engine. Isp=2326s. 50 kW Hall thruster developed 2001-on. More...
  • NEXT UM-NASA electric/xenon rocket engine. 237 mN. Isp=4100s. NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster, 40 cm diameter ion engine, double the beam extraction area of the NSTAR engine. Developed 1998-2003. More...
  • NSTAR NASA Cleveland electric/xenon rocket engine. 92 mN. Isp=3100s. Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Application Readiness program developed this 2.3 kW ion engine as primary propulsion for the Deep Space 1 comet and asteroid rendezvous probe, flew 1998. More...
  • P5 Hall thruster UM-USAF electric/xenon rocket engine. 246 mN. Isp=2326s. 5 kW Hall thruster for research purposes. More...
  • P78-2 Hughes electric/xenon rocket engine. 0.14 mN. Flown in 1979. Isp=350s. The thruster for the Scatha experiment consisted of one electron bombardment engines using xenon propellant. More...
  • TAL-38 TsNIIMASH electric/xenon rocket engine. 8 mN. Development. Isp=2500s. Hall effect thruster with anode layer. Export version of D-38, developed under NASA contract for satellite station-keeping and attitude control. Taken to engineering model stage. More...
  • TAL-WSF TsNIIMASH electric/xenon rocket engine. 12 mN. Isp=1350s. Hall effect thruster with anode layer. Export version of D-55 thruster developed under NASA/BMDO contract for flight test under RHETT-II program. Used for satellite orbital altitude maintenance. More...
  • TAL-100 TsNIIMASH electric/xenon rocket engine. 34 mN. Development. Isp=1450s. Hall effect thruster with anode layer. Export version of D-100-I thruster developed under NASA/BMDO contract. Taken to engineering model stage. More...
  • TM-50 TsNIIMASH electric/xenon rocket engine. 250 mN. Development. Isp=3000s. Hall effect thruster with anode layer, designed for satellite orbital raising. Taken to engineering model stage. More...
  • XIPS-13 0.44 kW Hughes electric/xenon rocket engine. 17.8 mN. In Production. Isp=2585s. HS 702 operational communications satellites each employed four of these 0.44 kW xenon ion thrusters. More...
  • XIPS-25 1.3 kW Hughes electric/xenon rocket engine. 63 mN. Isp=2800s. XIPS-25 program, conducted by Hughes, developed thrusters, BBPPUs, and a feed system pressure regulator for stationkeeping of 2500 kg class communication satellites. More...
  • XIPS-25 4.2 kW Hughes electric/xenon rocket engine. 165 mN. Isp=3800s. 25 cm diameter xenon engine system for orbital circularization, station-keeping, attitude control, and momentum dumping for its HS 702 spacecraft. More...

Associated Stages
  • Arsenal NE Tug Electric/Xenon propellant rocket stage. In 1994-1995 KB Arsenal collaborated with NII PME MAI, NPO Lavochkin, and others in international group to study interplanetary flight using nuclear-electric and solar-electric engines. The final selected design was a nuclear-electric interplanetary tug. More...
  • ERTA Electric/Xenon propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 21,000/12,000 kg. Thrust 0.01 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 3000 seconds. At the beginning of the 1990's a new type of nuclear generator was studied, that would have a capacity of 150 kW in the transport role and provide 10-40 kW to power spacecraft systems while coasting. This was designated ERTA (ElecktroRaketnovo Transportnovo Apparat). More...
  • Interorbital Tug Electric/Xenon propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 65,700/15,700 kg. Thrust 0.03 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 3000 seconds. Beginning in 1978 the 11B97 nuclear electric engine was studied for use in a reusable interorbital space tug for launch by Energia-Buran. In 1982, according to the decree of 5 February 1981, NPO Energia developed for the Ministry of Defence the interorbital tug Gerkules with 550 kWt maximum output and continuous operation in the 50-150 kWt range for 3 to 5 years. In 1986 a civilian interorbital tug was studied to solve the specific application of transporting heavy satellites of 100 tonnes to geostationary orbit, launched by Energia. More...

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