The European Space Agency & Australian National University just announced a new type of ion engine that has four times the efficiency of previous engines. That’s pretty cool, but the part of the story that really impressed me was this:
The new experimental engine, called the Dual-Stage 4-Grid (DS4G) ion thruster, was designed and built under a contract with ESA in the extremely short time of four months by a dedicated team at the Australian National University. “The success of the DS4G prototype shows what can be achieved with the passion and drive of a capable and committed team. It was an incredible experience to work with ESA to transform such an elegant idea into a record-breaking reality”, says Dr. Orson Sutherland, the engine’s designer and head of the development team at the ANU.
I don’t know how much technology they were able to leverage or really what’s involved, but 4 months sounds really fast to go from idea to working prototype. Wow.
(Thanks to Nerfduck for the link!)