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July 9 2013

New Space Engine Could Turn Tiny CubeSats into Interplanetary Explorers


Researchers plan to launch a tiny spacecraft to Earth orbit and beyond within the next 18 months, in a key test of new propulsion technology that could help cut the cost of planetary exploration by a factor of 1,000.

The scientists and engineers are developing a new plasma propulsion system designed for ultrasmall CubeSats. If all goes well, they say, it may be possible to launch a life-detection mission to Jupiter's ocean-harboring moon Europa or other intriguing worlds for as little as $1 million in the not-too-distant future.

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