On Dawn

dawn-launching.jpg

Dawn launching…photograph reproduced by kind permission of NASA. 

It’s getting even more cluttered up in space…before long, they’ll need bus lanes. 

The latest NASA mission features the unmanned spaceship Dawn which has just begun its journey to the asteroid belt, where it will explore Vesta and Ceres. Dawn is the size of a motorbike, but in space its wings will unfurl to create a magnificent Icarus.  It is basically a flying camera, but after being launched by old fashioned booster rockets into orbit (see above photo – most of what is taking off is the Delta II rocket, not Dawn herself) Dawn will be propelled by a sophisticated ion drive. 

This sent a shiver down my spine.  In Debatable Space, Lena’s space yacht has a back up ion drive engine.  To be honest, as a science fiction writer with no science degree, I had only a smattering of a grasp of how such a spaceship engine would really operate.  It just, er, kinda sounded good.

But now we know; and it’s way cool.

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