Grid ion drive propulsion system to enhance Europe’s competitiveness in the global satellite market


To enhance Europe’s competitiveness in the global satellite market, development of the first European Standard Plug and Play (GIESEPP) electric propulsion platform, which powers ArianeGroup ion drives with an alternative propulsion option, continues to be developed under the GIESEPP MP project funded by Horizon 2020, the European Union Framework Program.

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Electric propulsion provides significant improvements in fuel efficiency over chemical propulsion systems, enabling significant savings in weight and volume, reducing launch costs, and increasing revenue for operators due to increased payload facilitating electric propulsion. The modern European ion engine will give Europe the ability not only to compete but also to take the lead in this growing global market. The market size is expected to grow from one-off sales to at least two-digit systems annually via telecommunications, navigation, and scientific satellites.

In practical terms, this means that the weight and size of heavy GEO satellites can be greatly reduced to allow for more payload as additional transmitters and receivers. At the same time, small satellites in low Earth orbit can allow an advanced propulsion system without losing their assets to the bombers.

The project aims to continue the development of the previously funded GIESEPP (Modular Electric Propulsion Platform for Meshed Ion Engine), which sought to build and test a modular propulsion solution to the level of technical readiness for TRL5 (technology validated in the relevant environment) in various configurations of the LEO exploration missions , GEO, and space exploration. The restructured consortium will demonstrate and qualify a prototype-like system in a relevant environment up to TRL 6/7.

According to project coordinator Cyril Dietz, ArianeGroup GmbH: “The modular approach, which allows for an expansion in energy levels and interchangeability of essential ingredients, has already received global attention. Therefore, we look forward to agreeing it with the major players in society and moving forward with its commercialization.”

GIESEPP MP Project Consortium

The GIESEPP MP project will be implemented by a consortium comprising ArianeGroup GmbH (Germany), which will provide thrust engineering and project coordination; Airbus Defense and Space (France) for mission and systems engineering requirements; Aerospazio Tecnologie srl (Italy) as experts in system testing; Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen (Germany), which will take care of tests for the level of motivation and scientific support; CRISA (Spain), which will be responsible for the power processing unit; And WIT Berry (Latvia) for all communication and publishing purposes. The duration of the project is 3 years. The project started in January 2021 with a successful launch.

Source: GIESEPP MP Project


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