Benefits of solar electric propulsion for the next generation of planetary exploration missions

Steven N. Williams, Victoria Coverstone-Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations


Planetary missions of the future will have increasingly greater energy requirements due to the desire for in-situ investigations and faster flight times. Solar electric propulsion provides a means of more effectively accomplishing these types of missions. The first planetary low-thrust mission will be launched in July 1998, and fly by an asteroid, a comet, and the planet Mars. This mission will demonstrate solar electric propulsion technology, and lay the groundwork for more exciting missions in the future. Three missions representative of the types of future missions for which solar electric propulsion might be used are shown. In each case, the performance of solar electric propulsion and chemical options are compared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-159
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Astronautical Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this