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It is a Hall thruster electric propulsion test to enable in-space characterization of design modifications that are intended to improve performance to the units onboard Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications spacecraft, officials said Monday.
Produced by Aerojet Rocktdyne, the AEHF satellites’ Hall thrusters are 4.5-kilowatt units that use electricity and xenon to produce thrust for maneuvering satellites in space. The novel electric propulsion system produces a whisper-like thrust by ionizing and accelerating xenon gas.
Unlike conventional chemical engines that deliver substantial boosts with each brief firing, the electric system needs the stamina to operate for exceptionally long periods of time to harness its 0.06-pound-thrust into orbit-changing power.
originally posted by: kevinp2300
a reply to: PandaLord
I went to school in Santa Barbara, California, which is 30 miles from Vandenberg Air Force base(possibly where they test this craft). A few years ago I was walking to the store and saw an object take off at a 45degree angle that was powered by thrust(a lot of fire coming out of the back)and went as far as I could see. I posted on a thread asking whether it could have been some other object(shuttle or some type of rocket). None of which were possibilities according to a few members. Maybe this is what I saw.