The solar electric propulsion is one of the crucial technologies to assure the success of the missions directed to the Moon, to Mars and the deep space. So, Nasa and Aerojet Rocketdyne have started the tests on the Advanced Electric Propulsion System (Aeps), the solar electric propulsion (Sep) that will be used on board of the moon Gateway. Sep is based on the combination of solar cells and electric thrusters that ensure the thrust of a spacecraft through the space. This technology has already been tested by various probes by Esa, Nasa and Jaxa.
In the specific case, the Advanced Electric Propulsion System supplies 12 kilowatts of energy and it is over twice more powerful than the current systems of electric propulsion in the space and allows an extremely high fuel saving at low thrust, unlike the traditional chemical propulsion ones.
The Gateway, the space station in cislunar orbit, which will be used as base by the future astronauts of Artemis mission, will be equipped with three Aeps thrusters that will be integrated in the Power and Propulsion Element. Tests have put the motors through their paces, subjecting them to various thermal shocks and extreme vibrations. Other tests will be carried out next year, for about 23 hours of operation overall inside the vacuum chamber of the Glenn Research Center of Nasa.