Deep Space 1's Ion Engine
Kennedy Space Center, Florida. - Deep Space 1 is lifted from its work platform, giving a closeup view of the experimental solar-powered ion propulsion engine. The ion propulsion engine is the first non-chemical propulsion to be used as the primary means of propelling a spacecraft. The first flight in NASA's New Millennium Program, Deep Space 1 is designed to validate 12 new technologies for scientific space missions of the next century. Another onboard experiment includes software that tracks celestial bodies so the spacecraft can make its own navigation decisions without the intervention of ground controllers. Deep Space 1 will complete most of its mission objectives within the first two months, but may also do a flyby of a near-Earth asteroid, 1992 KD, in July 1999. Deep Space 1 will be launched aboard a Boeing Delta 7326 rocket from Launch Pad 17A, Cape Canaveral Air Station, in October. Delta II rockets are medium capacity expendable launch vehicles derived from the Delta family of rockets built and launched since 1960. Since then there have been more than 245 Delta launches.