NASA's Dawn Mission receives nod in memory of Apollo 13 'naut for asteroid belt derring-do | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


NASA's Dawn Mission receives nod in memory of Apollo 13 'naut for asteroid belt derring-do

The mission holds a notable list of firsts and records. It is the first spacecraft to orbit an object in the main asteroid belt. It used solar-electric propulsion, notching up a record-breaking 25,700mph thanks to its ion drive. The figure is 2.7 times that of the previous record and not too far off the velocity produced by the Delta launch vehicle.

Of course, it took the ion drive considerably longer than the chemical rocket. The drive ended up running for 5.9 years in total.

Even though the mission ended when the hydrazine ran dry at the end of October, the spacecraft remains in orbit around Ceres. NASA boffins reckon it could continue circling the dwarf planet for another 20 years or more.

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