MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109
Contacts: John G. Watson, JPL (818) 354-5011
Pamelia Caswell, Glenn Research Center (216) 433-5795
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 1999
ION PROPULSION SYSTEM WINS DISCOVER MAGAZINE AWARD
The futuristic ion propulsion system on NASA's Deep Space 1
spacecraft is the winner of Discover Magazine's Award for
Technological Innovation in the exploration category.
Discover magazine's annual awards, now in their 10th year,
honor teams whose innovations improve the quality of everyday
life. Twenty-seven technologies were selected as finalists. Nine
winners, featured in Discover's July issue, were announced at a
recent ceremony in Florida.
The award went to NASA's Solar Electric Propulsion
Technology Application Readiness (NSTAR) program team, which
developed and delivered Deep Space 1's ion propulsion system.
Accepting on behalf of the team was former NSTAR manager Jack
Stocky of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.
The ion drive combines a gas found in photo flash units with
some of the technologies that make television picture tubes work
to deliver a thrust only as powerful as the pressure of a sheet
of paper resting on the palm of a hand. Despite the almost
imperceptible level of thrust, this engine, for a given amount of
fuel, can increase a spacecraft's velocity 10 times more than can
a conventional liquid or solid fuel rocket.
Deep Space 1, launched last October, has tested 12 new
technologies, including ion propulsion, so that they can be
confidently used on science missions of the 21st century.
The NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Application
Readiness program began in the early 1990s as a partnership
between JPL and NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, to
develop xenon ion engines for deep space missions. In June 1996,
a prototype engine built by the Glenn center began a long-
duration test in a vacuum chamber at JPL simulating the
conditions of outer space. The test concluded in September 1997
after the engine successfully logged more than 8,000 hours of
Results of the tests were used to define the design of
flight hardware that was built for Deep Space 1 by Hughes
Electron Dynamics Division, Torrance, CA, and Spectrum Astro
Inc., Gilbert, AZ. Other partners in the development of the
flight ion engine system included Moog Inc., East Aurora, NY, and
Physical Science Inc., Andover, MA. Development of the ion
propulsion system was supported by NASA's Office of Space Science
and the Office of Aeronautics and Space Transportation
Technology, Washington, DC. A portion of the program was
supported by the Advanced Space Transportation Program, managed
by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL.
Deep Space 1 is managed by JPL, a division of the California
Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, for NASA's Office of Space
Science, Washington, DC. More information about the mission is
available on the web at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1news .