Satellite electric propulsion
In an effort to cut launch costs, companies are looking to technology to transport small satellites from low Earth orbit to geostationary orbit and to the moon.
A Silicon Valley startup developing electric propulsion systems for satellites has raised $10 million and added the billionaire founder of LinkedIn to its board.
Phase Four, a company developing an advanced electric propulsion system for use on cubesats and larger spacecraft, announced sales of its thrusters to NASA and Astro Digital May 24.
Technological advances have opened up a wide range of propulsion options for satellites, but companies developing those systems don’t expect a single approach to become dominant.
Eutelsat’s newest satellite reached its target position in the geostationary orbit this week only four months after its launch, setting an industry record for the fastest all electric orbit-raising.
Satellite manufacturers are trying to figure out how to maximize their share of the electric propulsion market while not abandoning more conservative customers.
Safran of France's Snecma division expects to sell 350 satellite electric thrusters in the next 10 years following negotiations with European prime contractors Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space.