Current and past flight projects supported by the Electric Propulsion Group include several notable firsts:
- Launched: Sept. 27, 2007
- NASA's first operational science mission to use xenon ion propulsion.
- 2015 Colllier Trophy winner (press release) “In recognition of the extraordinary achievements of orbiting and exploring protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, and advancing the nation’s technological capabilities in pioneering new frontiers in space travel.”
- Space Technology 7 (ST7)
Launch: Dec 3, 2015
- First demonstration of electrospray thrusters in space (Jan 10, 2016).
- Deep Space 1 (DS1)
- Launched: Oct. 24, 1998. Retired: Dec. 18, 2001
- Technology mission that first demonstrated xenon ion propulsion in deep-space.
This artist's concept shows ESA's LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched on Dec. 3, 2015, from Kourou, French Guiana, will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. On Jan 10, 2016, all eight Colloid Micronewton Thrusters (CMT) on the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft passed their functional tests, becoming the first operation of electrospray thrusters in space. The CMT's were developed by Busek with technical support from JPL.
Launched Sept. 2007, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is being propelled by a trio of NSTAR ion thrusters on its journey to visit the two heaviest main-belt asteroids, Vesta and Ceres. (Credit: Background- William K. Hartmann, Courtesy of UCLA; image-NASA/MCREL)