NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is working on a new propellant-free propulsion system called Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transport System (HERTS) E-Sail that will significantly reduce the time required in space travel. Also, this E-Sail concept system would make use of solar wind to venture into interstellar space. The space agency has started conducting multiple tests on many models of the spacecraft.
The new propulsion system comprises 10-20 electrically-charged bare aluminum wires (the E-Sail) coming outwards from the spacecraft in a circular motion. The circular E-Sail would then generate an electric field using solar power that would repel the ionized particles (protons) and the momentum exchange would thus create an accelerated force that’ll drive the vessel into deep space.
Bruce Wiegmann, engineer at Marshall’s Advanced Concepts Office and the chief investigator for the HERTS E-Sail, stated that the protons and electrons released by the sun into the solar wind at very high speeds (in the range of 400 to 750 kilometers per second), shall be used to propel the spacecraft.
This video should help shed more light on NASA’s HERTS E-Sail technology-