NASA recently leveled with the Obama administration: without a lot more funding, we're not going back to the moon. It's straight to Mars for the United States, and that's not going to be a cheap trip either. With that news in mind, the more than 300 attendees to the 31st biannual International Electric Propulsion Conference will put their heads together on the future of electric propulsion technologies. Electric propulsion, though packing a high specific impulse, is constrained by limits on the amount of electrical power we can feasibly carry into space. Therefore it's weaker than chemical thrusters and often relegated to small duties like reorienting satellites in orbit. But advances in the field could be key to developing the kind of tech that will enable missions deeper into space. Like, for instance, to the Red Planet. No pressure.
The 31st International Electric Propulsion Conference
Ann Arbor, Mich.
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