Plasma thrusters: ideally suited to new orbital injection strategies

Safran Aircraft Engines pioneered electric propulsion systems in Europe. Today, to address changing orbital injection strategies for satellites, we are developing a wide range of plasma thrusters and propulsion systems that will help increase the payload on geostationary satellites, while also reducing launch costs.

The PPS®1350-G plasma thruster calls on Safran Aircraft Engine' long experience with electric propulsion. It is designed for orbital transfer and control duties on satellites and other spacecraft. The main advantage of the PPS®1350-G is its very high specific impulse, providing for considerable weight savings in relation to platforms using conventional chemical propulsion. The PPS®1350-G also offers a very good thrust-to-electrical power ratio, which means that it reduces operating time or the number of thrusters needed.

As the first production model designed by Safran Aircraft Engines, the PPS®1350 was the main propulsion source on ESA's Smart-1 lunar probe, launched by an Ariane 5 in 2003, which completed its mission in September 2006. The thruster was then qualified for the Alphabus platform jointly developed by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space. Alphasat, the first satellite built on this platform, was launched in July 2013, and uses four PPS®1350-G thrusters for north/south stationkeeping.

In these different versions, PPS®1350-S* and PPS®1350-E, this thruster has been selected by Space Systems/Loral to equip their telecommunications platforms. This is the first export order for Safran Aircraft Engines' plasma thruster. The first flight simulations will be delivered in 2017.

*Single-cathode version of the PPS®1350-G



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