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Electric satellite propulsion system a major manufacturing milestone for UK

November 01, 2018 / Joseph Flaig

Thales Alenia Space has claimed a “major new manufacturing milestone” for the UK space sector after unveiling the first all-electric satellite propulsion module designed and built in the country.
The xenon propulsion system (XPS), which will use energy collected from solar panels to accelerate xenon gas from an electric thruster, was designed in the industry hub of Harwell in Oxfordshire and assembled in Belfast.
Electric propulsion using xenon is five- to 10-times more efficient than traditional bipropellant systems, Thales Alenia CEO Ben Olivier told Professional Engineering. The XPS produces “much lower” thrust levels, therefore taking longer to complete similar journeys, but its improved efficiency means less fuel is required.