The Dawn Ion Propulsion System


Dawn’s ion propulsion system (IPS) is the most advanced propulsion system ever built for a deep-space mission. Aside from the Mars gravity assist it provides all of the post-launch ΔV required for the mission including the heliocentric transfer to Vesta, orbit capture at Vesta, transfer to various Vesta science orbits, escape from Vesta, the heliocentric transfer to Ceres, orbit capture at Ceres, and transfer to the different Ceres science orbits. The ion propulsion system provides a total ΔV of nearly 11 km/s, comparable to the ΔV provided by the 3-stage launch vehicle, and a total impulse of 1.2×107 N s.

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Correspondence to John Brophy.

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Brophy, J. The Dawn Ion Propulsion System. Space Sci Rev 163, 251–261 (2011).

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  • Dawn
  • Ion propulsion
  • Electric propulsion
  • SEP