Electric propulsion is at a turning point in its history. In fact, it is now largely used for commercial satellites to carry out orbit control and maintenance North-South and (NSSK). However, the significant reduction in propellant that this system enables, associated with recent in-flight successes, opens up new perspectives that have been inconceivable to date. In fact, electric propulsion is not only relevant for position maintenance operations, but also for carrying out the transfer of geostationary satellite orbit, which represents a considerable proportion of the market.
What is more, the future requirements in the nanosatellite market (CubeSats) widen the scope of electric propulsion technologies. The guidance and control of the trajectory of small satellites require compact and robust electric propulsion systems. This is why innovative and efficient propulsion systems are needed and new developmental approaches should be explored.
This turning point demands profound reflection and consideration of the breakthrough and opportunities afforded by electric propulsion:
- In the short term, the development of propulsion sub-systems needs to be adapted to reflect new requirements (GEO, telecoms, etc.) and thereby boost competitiveness.
- In the medium term, new product lines need to reflect increasingly diverse requirements (LEO, constellations, nanosat, etc.),
- In the long term, breakthroughs need to be made for increasingly ambitious missions (distant exploration).