Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP)

Solar Electric Propulsion

in_space_prop_plasma_rocketFuture Human Exploration requires high power solar electric propulsion vehicles to move cargo and humans beyond Low Earth Orbit, which requires large light weight arrays, high power processing, and robust ops in egregious environs.The SEP Project will develop and mature technologies primarily for transition to NASA Mission Directorates engaged in manned and robotic exploration of space.




Principal Technologist: Charles Taylor (

Project Manager: Margaret Nazario ( [/one_half]

Solar Power Element Manager: Carolyn Mercer (

In-Space Propulsion Element Manager: Tim Smith (

NASA Tech Briefs Interview with Chuck Taylor

Chuck Taylor is principal investigator of in-space propulsion and space power generation within the Game Changing Development Program. He is responsible for a portfolio of technologies, including large-scale solar electric propulsion systems, the subject of this NASA Tech Briefs interview. Read more…(+)

NASA’s Solar-Electric Propulsion Engine and a Real-World Lightsaber (sort of)

NASA has posted an image of a solar-electric propulsion engine currently in development. The engine, which uses xenon ions, burns blue, and NASA is considering using the engine as part of its asteroid retrieval initiative. The engine is being tested at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The image above was taken at JPL through a porthole […]

Administration confirms NASA plan: Grab an asteroid, then focus on Mars

NASA’s accelerated vision for exploration calls for moving a near-Earth asteroid even nearer to Earth, sending out astronauts to bring back samples within a decade, and then shifting the focus to Mars, a senior Obama administration official told NBC News on Saturday. Image Credit: DigitalSpace Read More (+)

Artist’s Concept of a Solar Electric Propulsion System

Using advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) technologies is an essential part of future missions into deep space with larger payloads. The use of robotics and advanced SEP technologies like this concept of an SEP-based spacecraft during NASA mission to find, rendezvous, capture and relocate an asteroid to a stable point in the lunar vicinity offers […]

New Thrust for Solar Electric Propulsion

Harnessing the power of the Sun to provide thrust for transport in space has long been a part of science fiction imagery. Now a reality after decades of development, it has found increasing use for applications ranging from station-keeping to orbit-raising. Obstacles remain, but evolving technology should enable expanding applications of this weight-saving form of […]

Magnetic shielding of walls from the unmagnetized ion beam in a Hall thruster

A new 15kW high power Hall thruster is being developed to support a Solar Electric Propulsion Technology demonstration mission within the ISP project. One of the key design features for the new thruster will be the use of magnetic shielding for improving thruster life by shaping the magnetic field to reduce discharge channel wall erosion. […]