To foster Europe’s competitiveness in the global satellite market, the first European Plug and Play Gridded Ion Engine Standardised Electric Propulsion Platform (GIESEPP), operating ArianeGroup ion engines with the option of alternative thrusters, continues to develop within the GIESEPP MP project funded by the Horizon 2020 framework programme of the European Union.
Electric propulsion offers major improvements in fuel efficiency over chemical propulsion systems, enabling dramatic weight and volume savings, reduced launcher costs, and higher revenues for operators due to the increase in payload that electric propulsion facilitates. A state-of-the-art European gridded ion engine will give Europe the ability to not only compete but also take a lead in this growing worldwide market. The market volume is expected to grow from one-off sales to at least double-digit systems per year across telecommunications, navigation and scientific satellites.
In practice, this means that the weight and volume of heavy GEO satellites can be reduced considerably to allow for more payload such as additional transponders. At the same time, tiny LEO satellites can allow for a high-end propulsion system without losing their assets for launchers.
The project aims to continue the developments of the previously funded project GIESEPP (Gridded Ion Engine Standardised Electric Propulsion Platform), which sought to build and test a modular propulsion solution to a technical readiness level of TRL5 (Technology validated in relevant environment) in its different configurations for LEO, GEO and space exploration missions. The restructured consortium will demonstrate and pre-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 both scaling in power levels and the interchangeability of core components, has already encountered worldwide interest. Thus, we are looking forward to approving it with the key players in the community and proceeding to market with it.”
The GIESEPP MP project consortium
The GIESEPP MP project will be implemented by a consortium comprising ArianeGroup GmbH (Germany), which will provide thruster engineering and project coordination; Airbus Defence & Space (France) for mission requirements and systems engineering; Aerospazio Tecnologie s.r.l. (Italy) as system testing experts; Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen (Germany), which will take care of thruster level tests and scientific support; CRISA (Spain), which will be in charge of the power processing unit; and WIT Berry (Latvia) for all communication and dissemination purposes. The project duration is 3 years. The project started in January 2021 with a successful kick-off.