European space organization succeeded in developing the engine for a new type of satellite that can obtain driving force only with air

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced that it succeeded in developing the air-inhale type electric propulsion unit which has the mechanism of "the driving force by taking in air and accelerating it" for the first time in the world. This propeller makes it possible for artificial satellites to fly using the infinite 'propellant' of air, which fly in a relatively low Earth orbital.

World-first firing of air-breathing electric thruster / Space Engineering & Technology / Our Activities / ESA

The new propeller which ESA succeeded in developing takes in the air molecules present in a trace amount from the tip of the propeller between the Earth 's atmosphere and outer space, gives an electric charge to generate acceleration force, It has a mechanism to use it as driving force. As a result, the air molecules are slightly present around 200 km altitudeLow orbitIt is possible to continue to give thrust to an artificial satellite flying over a long period of time.

There have been propulsion devices that give thrust to artificial satellites orbiting a low orbit so far, but both of them have been launched with propellant loaded in advance, and they gain power by consuming it was. Earth observation satellite that ESA launched in 2009 and operatedGOCE(Goche) "is one such satellite, and by mounting an ion engine using xenon as a propellant, we supplemented the speed lost by air resistance when flying 250 km altitude and continued the observation. However, in 2013, the altitude fell by exhausting xenon with a mass of 40 kg loaded, and it entered the atmosphere in November 11 of the same year.

ESA's newly developed propeller can be a major step in the sense that it has realized an epoch-making mechanism that can solve these problems. ESA's Louis Walpot, who is involved in the development, said, "By using air molecules drifting in the atmosphere at an altitude of 200 km as a propellant, this project is" 7.8 km per second " It began with the design of a new mechanism to realize the speed as fast as possible. "

Testing is an Italian space companySitaelIt was carried out by using the vacuum equipment of. By placing the equipment shown in the following photographs in the space reproducing the space of 200 km altitude and using the molecular flow generator from before, we will create movement of air molecules colliding at high speed.

Air molecules that fly at high speed are first introduced into the propulsor from the air intake "Collector" developed by QuinteScience of Poland. The compressed air molecules are given electric charge, and the mechanism of obtaining propulsive force by the reaction obtained by blowing out the accelerated air molecules from the nozzle at high speed by obtaining energy.

Up of the part which produces force by the propeller. By adopting a design called "two-stage structure" it is possible to give more electric charge, but this method is said to be more difficult than acceleration with the conventional electric propeller. It was a development team repeatedly tested by computer simulation, but by repeating experiments combining the collector and the accelerator in practice, it is necessary to compress the air molecules to a predetermined density and create a state where the required force can be produced It seems that it was made.

At the beginning of the experiment, I first made a propulsive force using the conventional xenon. At that stage, the gas emitted from the propeller is glowing blue ... ...

When gradually decreasing xenon, going through the stage of mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, and transitioning to the state of only the atmosphere, the gas from the propeller turns purple. This color is a proof that we succeeded in creating power by using only the atmosphere as a propellant.

Mr. Walpot said, "This means that the electrical propeller by the atmosphere, which was only a theory, is concrete and has become a state of production that leads to future development," said Walpot. We are expecting it as a device to realize a new type of mission that was impossible in the past.

in Hardware,   Science, Posted by darkhorse_log