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posted by martyb on Thursday April 16 2015, @02:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the no-sign-of-dilithium-crystals dept.

The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by ikanreed on Thursday April 16 2015, @03:16PM

    by ikanreed (3164) on Thursday April 16 2015, @03:16PM (#171616)

    Electric thrusters are essentially useless for launching from the ground to space because their maximum acceleration tends to be a lot less than 1 g.

    But once you're even in very low orbit, the thrust to (fuel) mass ratio of a nuclear power supply is gigantic. You can burn almost indefinitely, and get between space locations much faster.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Thursday April 16 2015, @03:42PM

    by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday April 16 2015, @03:42PM (#171622) Journal

    This isn't an ion engine. It's a chemical rocket with some electric parts in it, and should be compared to other chemical rockets.

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