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ProSEDS May Tie-In to ISS Propulsion - Windows to the Universe

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

NASA plans to begin development of a Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System, or ProSEDS. Instead of using propellant, ProSEDS will use the Earth's magnetic field to speed up or slow down spacecraft.

The system consists of a tether which is lowered into the upper atmosphere. The tether creates a current, which creates an electric field. The electric field then interacts with the Earth's magnetic field. Depending on how the tether is oriented, the magnetic field can act as a force on the tether system to speed it up or slow it down.

ProSEDS is an example of a propellant-free system which can help save money on the International Space Station. NASA plans on sending propellant to the station for periodic orbital reboosts because of slight atmospheric drag. If the tether system works, then NASA won't have to worry about orbital reboosts; the tether will continually take care of it.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF