PhD student Paddy Neumann has invented an ion drive system that works by bombarding the fuel source with electric arcs, causing the ions to be discarded, thus providing higher spacecraft top speeds (200,000mph) than any other rocket currently available. To put things into perspective, the space shuttle is capable of a top speed of around 18,000mph. Neumann said that it could power a spacecraft to “Mars and back on one tank of fuel.” Continue reading for another video of Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining ion propulsion systems and more information.
“The Neumann ion drive works by bombarding the fuel source with electric arcs, which causes ions be discarded. These ions then move through a magnetic nozzle, resulting in forward propulsion. The innovative part of Neumann’s drive is the type of fuel that was used. While HiPEP system runs on xenon gas, Neumann’s ion drive can instead run on various metals many of which can be found in space junk,” reports Mail Online.