Saturday, January 02, 2016

ESA Tests 5 kilowatt Ion Drive

European Space Propulsion (ESP), a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD), successfully completed testing of a five-kilowatt Hall Thruster with a Power Processing Unit (PPU) supplied by Thales Alenia Space (TAS) Belgium. The test programme was successfully conducted in the UK, and marks the first time a flight-proven five-kilowatt class Hall Thruster has been tested with a European-manufactured PPU. The achievement of this test being completed in less time than allocated was a reflection on the robustness of the design and the understanding and expertise of the team.

ESP, a UK-registered company located in Belfast focused on providing in-space chemical and electric propulsion products for the European space market, was awarded a contract valued at approximately €11 million from the European Space Agency (ESA) in March 2015 for the flight qualification of the five-kilowatt XR-5E Hall Thruster, under the ESA Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) initiative, with targeted application on telecommunication satellites.

ESP is in the process of transferring production capability of the industry-leading XR-5 thruster, the only flight-proven five-kilowatt Hall Effect Thruster, from parent company Aerojet Rocketdyne. ESP will develop the XR-5E, building upon the proven satellite integration experience and extensive flight heritage of the XR 5 product line. The programme includes establishment of a lower-cost electric propulsion design, manufacturing and testing capability that takes advantage of the strong Northern Ireland engineering and business environment. ESP is also developing a new Thermo-Throttle based Xenon Flow Controller (XFC) that will be combined with the Belfast-built thruster to provide a strong offering into the expanding European market. The completion of the PPU coupling test with the XR-5 is the first major milestone to be completed under the ARTES programme.

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