by Victor Tangermann, Futurism.com
While we have yet to figure out how to travel by warp drive, we have found other ways for spacecraft to propel themselves at mind-boggling speeds across vast distances of outer space.
Ion drives, for instance, have enabled spacecraft like the NASA’s Deep Space 1 and Dawn to travel years at a time at record-breaking speeds. And now, a European-Japanese mission is ready to fire up the most powerful ion thrusters yet on its long journey to Mercury after successfully making its first maneuver in space.
The BepiColombo mission that launched from Earth on October 19th wants to send a carrier spacecraft, and two piggybacking orbiters, to Mercury — a journey of 5.6 billion miles (9 billion kilometers) that will include nine flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury, and 18 loops around the Sun to gain momentum.
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