Chinese Scientists Tested an on-Orbit Miniature Ion Engine
Chinese engineers have created a "pocket-size" ion engine, which is designed to "extend the life of small spacecraft and prevent them from becoming dangerous space debris". A maneuverable rocket engine was developed by the Beijing Institute No 206 of the Chinese Corporation aerospace science and technology (CASC). It was launched into orbit and tested using the Chinese small satellite “earlier this year”. An ion engine is an electric rocket engine in which jet thrust is created on the basis of the emission of ionized substances dispersed in an electric field. This Chinese engine runs on liquid metals, usually cesium and mercury. Scientists say that most of the spacecraft operate in low orbits in a static state, gradually losing their orbit due to the lack of units capable of maintaining a given altitude. At the same time, a small force is enough to ensure that the apparatus remains at the desired height. In addition, the developed device will extend the life of artificial satellites in high orbit, which will prevent dangerous space debris.