The new rocket plasma engine, known as a “Hall Thurster”, has the potential to take humans to Mars without the need to refuel.
Currently, NASA uses this technology to keep satellites and space probes in the right orbit. But they have even more potential.
The Hall Thurster uses a 45,000 mph stream of plasma to propel the spacecraft forward while consuming 100-million-times less fuel than conventional chemical rockets. This makes it perfect for space exploration.
There is just one problem with the engine needing to be solved first – it has a lifespan of 10,000 operation hours. Since most missions will require at least 50,000 operation hours, we will have to wait for further development, before packing our bags for space trips.
According to Vaudolon:
To prolong the lifespan of Hall thrusters, a team of researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research are working on something known as a wall-less thruster. The wall-less thruster allows scientists to observe regions of the plasma previously hidden behind the channel walls.
Since the 1970s, starting at MIT and then for 25 years at NASA, astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz and his team have worked to develop a faster propulsion technology for space travel. The result is the VASIMR engine, a plasma rocket that can travel 10 times faster than a chemical rocket, uses 1/10th the amount of fuel, and can transport cargo more economically than any existing space technology.