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spaceflight(launch) question

I was wondering... An question just occured to me that I couldn't answer: If a small satellite were hand-launched from the space station, and it contained an ion-drive motor powered by electricity, would it ever be able to accelerate in order to gain a higher orbit, or would that require an impracically large power supply/engine?  In other words, could that method be used to achieve higher orbits with communication/ham class satellites without having to use the typical large rocket we've been using all this time?  Also, would there be a cost-advantage to this method?

Auke de Jong
Edmonton, AB

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