Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Steam-Powered Spacecraft

Steam engines seem like a distinctly 19th-century technology when compared to 21st-century spacecraft. Yet, designers are turning to steam engines of a sort for use on spacecraft. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), a British developer of microspacecraft, has successfully tested…
March 19, 2004

Steam engines seem like a distinctly 19th-century technology when compared to 21st-century spacecraft. Yet, designers are turning to steam engines of a sort for use on spacecraft. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), a British developer of microspacecraft, has successfully tested a steam-powered thruster on UK-DMC, a spacecraft built by the company and launched last fall. The thruster uses a small amount of water, heated to 200 Celsius, as the propellant. The steam generates only a minute amount of thrust–a few millinewtons–but that’s enough to change the orientation of the spacecraft. SSTL believes that water could prove to be an economical and environmentally-friendly alternative to current spacecraft thrusters that use cold nitrogen gas or hydrazine.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

crypto winter concept
crypto winter concept

Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.

When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?

chasm concept
chasm concept

Artificial intelligence is creating a new colonial world order

An MIT Technology Review series investigates how AI is enriching a powerful few by dispossessing communities that have been dispossessed before.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.