I came across this great image yesterday, from NASA, of a vacuum box developed in the 1960s.It was used in ion propulsion or ion motor experiments as a workstation in which parts could be assembled and handled without contamination.
Or exposure of particular materials to air, like in the case of cesium or mercury.
It is a fantastic shot…like peering into some alien incubation pod…maybe that crab-like thing might break out, leap into the air and stick its tube down your throat like in Alien!
The Vacuum Dry Box at NASA - IMage courtesy of NASA - © NASA
Fantasy aside, what it good about this image is that it shows what kinds of kit you need to build ion propulsion. And it hints at how exotic and specialised are the manufacture and materials used in ion propulsion.
I think it reflects really well that particular mystery behind “rocket science” and yet there is a familiarity to it almost like this is a doctor or nurse tending to a newborn.
The vacuum box does have a certain look to it half between a strange science experiment and an intensive-care incubator.
Perhaps that’s one reason why rocket scientists always consider ion thrusters to be their “babies”!