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Helical EngineA new concept for in-space propulsion is proposed in which propellant is not ejected from the engine, but instead is captured to create a nearly infinite specific impulse. The engine accelerates ions confined in a closed loop to relativistic speeds, and slightly varies their velocity to change their momentum. The engine then moves the ions back and forth along the direction of travel to produce thrust. This in-space engine is intended to be used for long-term satellite station-keeping without refueling or to propel spacecraft across interstellar distances. The engine has no moving parts other than ions traveling in a closed-loop vacuum line, trapped inside electric and magnetic fields.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Burns, David M.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 22, 2019
Publication Date
August 19, 2019
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Propulsion Energy Forum and Exposition
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Country: United States
Start Date: August 19, 2019
End Date: August 22, 2019
Sponsors: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
Single Expert
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