English/Nat Voiceover: Nicole Swift NASA launched its Deep Space One spacecraft on Saturday will test 12 new technologies needed for the next generation of solar system explorers. Deep Space One is powered by a solar ion engine, previously found only in the realms of science fiction, but which NASA has been developing for 30 years. If the ion propulsion engine is successful, it will revolutionise space travel as it will make craft lighter, cheaper, and faster. VOICE-OVER; This experimental probe is set to revolutionise space exploration. NASA's Deep Space One will run off a solar powered engine, making space travel cheaper, lighter and faster. The probe will be powered by xenon gas. The gas will be bombarded with electrons which are then accelerated into space. A ghostly blue flame left in its wake. UPSOT: (English) "Time minus ten, nine eight.....liftoff." NASA says the ion propulsion system, initially seen only in Star Wars and Star Trek, is ten times more efficient than rockets. The space craft's first destination is an asteroid, flying within six miles of the surface. If the mission is extended, it will then take the first close up images of a comet. This could mean quicker and more direct trips to other planets, cutting years from a ten year trip to Pluto. NASA has been developing ion propulsion for decades but this is the first time it will be used as the main source of propulsion. Deep Space One will try out a dozen new technologies in total, including improved solar panels and better data transmitters. As the craft blasts into the space, NASA is hoping the probe will go where no probe has gone before. You can license this story through AP Archive: Find out more about AP Archive:

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Author AP Archive
Duration 90 seconds

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