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This is a cesium ion engine developed by the Electro-Optical Systems, Inc. as an experimental high-energy thruster for spacecraft. Ion engines produce extremely low thrusts over long periods of time, using electrically charged particles ejected out of the rear as a stream to provide thrust. This engine was successfully tested twice in space in flights of Air Force Blue Scout missiles in October and December 1964.

During the flights, each engine, weighing about five pounds, was carried to a maximum altitude of 1,200 nautical miles and produced thrusts of about .002 pounds (0.009 kilograms) for over two hours.

This engine was donated to the Smithsonian by Electro-Optical Systems in 1965.

Display Status

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Object Details
Date 1964 Country of Origin United States of America Type PROPULSION-Rocket Engines Manufacturer Electro-Optical Systems, Inc.
Dimensions 3-D (Approximate, Diameter x Depth): 39.4 × 58.4cm (15 1/2 × 23 in.)
Storage (Wooden Crate): 105.4 × 125.7 × 157.5cm, 177.8kg (41 1/2 × 49 1/2 × 62 in., 392lb.)
Materials Stainless Steel
Gold Plating
Cadmium Plating
Copper Alloy
Inventory Number A19650290000 Credit Line Ellectro-Optical Systems, Inc. Data Source National Air and Space Museum Restrictions & Rights Usage conditions apply
For more information, visit the Smithsonians Terms of Use.