IX-6315 "Dawn" Electric Propulsion System
|IX-6315 "Dawn" Electric Propulsion System|
| Ion engine by |
Ionic Symphonic Protonic Electronics
|Max. Temp.||2000 K|
|Impact Tolerance||7 m/s|
|Maximum thrust||(1 atm)||0.05 kN|
|Isp||(1 atm)||100 s|
|Fuel consumption||0.485 /s|
|Thrust vectoring||× No|
|Electricity required||3.666 ⚡/s|
|On the surface||✓ Yes|
|On the ocean||✓ Yes|
|In atmosphere||✓ Yes|
|In space||✓ Yes|
|Test by staging||✓ Yes|
|Manually testable||✓ Yes|
This engine has a phenomenal fuel efficiency (4200 s Isp), but very low thrust and requires an immense amount of electricity to operate. Xenon gas is provided by xenon containers like the PB-X50R Xenon Container, PB-X150 Xenon Container or PB-X750 Xenon Container. Electricity can be obtained using solar panels and radioisotope batteries (RTGs). Solar panels are recommended in this case, as RTGs are heavy and will tax a lot on its already small TWR. The amount of electricity needed to keep one ion engine running at full thrust is roughly equivalent to half the output of one Gigantor XL Solar Array (however one array will power two engines only near peak sun exposure around Kerbin), 9 PB-NUK Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, or 9 OX-STAT Photovoltaic Panels at peak output. When pairing with solar panels, it is highly recommended to bring more than it needs (slightly less than 9 Ec/s), as not all panels are at peak output during operations.
The ion engine is good for fine tuning of orbits. It is also a popular propulsion method for planes on planets on which jet engines don't work. Due to its great fuel efficiency it is also well-suited for interplanetary travel, but maneuvers tend to take a long time to complete due to its very low thrust-to-weight ratio -- it is advised to use it for very small craft, and to use physics-warp while propelling with it. Usually the engine is used on long range crafts due to its high efficiency. But when less delta-v is required, overall, it can be easily surpassed by smaller liquid fuelled engines such as the 48-7S "Spark" engine with a lot better TWR.
It is impossible to build an ion-rocket which can defeat gravity on Kerbin, because the engine isn't even strong enough to lift itself against gravity, let alone itself and its fuel, a battery and a probe core. But when on a low-gravity moon like Minmus or Gilly it is possible to land, start, enter orbit and reach escape velocity with ion-propulsion alone. As of 0.23.5, it is technically possible to create an ion-powered probe, albeit with a minimum of parts, which will be able to defy Mun gravity. With that in mind, it is also possible to resist gravity with lightweight Ion craft on Duna, Moho, Dres, Eeloo, and every in-game moon with two exceptions: Laythe and Tylo have too high gravity for a single ion thruster, xenon tank, probe core, and battery.
While it is possible to build an airplane powered solely by this engine, the ion engine's efficiency is awful in the atmosphere. Unless you are going very far from the KSC, jet planes are much cheaper and more efficient.
Ion-powered "ferries" may also be useful for moving fuel, oxidizer and/or kerbonauts between two larger vessels, by keeping the large craft at such range that only one of them is within draw distance from the "ferry" at any moment, performance loss can be avoided. It is generally more fuel-efficient to move fuel and oxidizer between two ships using a ferry than it would be to dock the larger crafts together using their own engines and RCS.
Because it uses only about 0.485 units of xenon per second, one PB-X50R Xenon Container with 400 units of xenon can supply the engine for almost 14 minutes. The other larger tank PB-X150 Xenon Container with 700 units of xenon has enough to supply the engine more than 24 minutes.
The part.cfg lists the electrical consumption as 1.8 ⚡ which is the electricity consumed for 0.1 units of xenon (). This is a ratio, and to propel 1 an electricity of 18 ⚡ is required. As seen ingame, the fuel flow is 0.0485 kg/s or 0.4849 /s. The electricity consumption is 8.7285 ⚡/s. As the Isp given in seconds needs to be multiplied with a slightly higher acceleration (9.82 m/s²) than g0 (= 9.81 m/s²) the actual Isp in m/s is higher and therefore the xenon and electrical consumption is lower. To get the actual consumption the mass flow can be calculated using the specific impulse and thrust: 
|“|| By emitting ionized xenon gas through a small thruster port, Dawn can produce incredibly efficient propulsion, but with a downside of very low thrust and high energy usage. According to ISP Electronics sales reps, the rumours of this engine being powered by "dark magic" are largely exaggerated.
— Ionic Symphonic Protonic Electronics
Although the 2 kN IX-6315 "Dawn" Electric Propulsion System is considered to have very low thrust in KSP, real-life Hall effect thrusters typically have orders of magnitude less thrust usually below 1 N (0.001 kN). They make up for this by having a service life of thousands of hours of continuous operation and consuming fuel extremely slowly, which would have been impractical in the game.
The name "Dawn" is a reference to NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which is NASA's first interplanetary space probe to use an ion engine for propulsion.
The Ion-Powered Space Probe stock craft, powered by an ion engine.
- Moved to Propulsion from Utility.
- Ionic Protonic Electronics renamed Ionic Symphonic Protonic Electronics, description changed, thrust increased from 0.5 to 2, relative electricity reduced from 12 to 1.8.
- Initial Release
- Answer in the forum to Ion Engine consumes more energy than it should.
- In File:10X Xenon.png 10 PB-Ion engines are running at full power and consuming a lower value than 10× the theoretical value.