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ProSEDS May Tie-In to ISS Propulsion
News story originally written on January 28, 1999

NASA announced that it will begin development of the Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System, or ProSEDS. ProSEDS will use the Earth's magnetic field to act as a force on a spacecraft, either speeding it up or slowing it down.

The system consists of a tether which is lowered into the upper atmosphere. The tether induces a current, which creates an electric field. If the electric field is oriented properly, it will interact with the Earth's magnetic field and act as a force on the system.

"This will be a demonstration of a propellant-free propulsion system," said Les Johnson of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

ProSEDS will be used as an example of a possible system for use on the International Space Station. The ISS will need periodic orbital reboosts because of slight atmospheric drag. If the tether system works, NASA won't have to worry about the expensive task of bring propellants from Earth to the station.

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