The Electric Propulsion Role and Place within the Russian Space Program


Gusev Y. G.1*, Pil'nikov A. V.2**

1. Central Research Institute of Machine Building, 4, Pionerskaya st., Korolev, Moscow region, 141070, Russia
2. Central Research Institute of Machine Building, TSNIIMash, 4, Pionerskaya str., Korolev, Moscow region, 141070, Russia



Basic trends in the development of electric propulsion (EP) based propulsion systems (PS) of spacecraft (SC) designed for scientific studies and practical use of space may be conditionally divided into five main groups. Such division is stipulated by the PS power level and, correspondingly, by the EP power level and type. The first group is intended for securing operation of small satellites (50…500 kg) during the missions aimed at the remote Earth sensing, meteorology, mapping, etc., which are as a rule realized in the low earth orbits. Electric propulsion systems (EPS) of this group are characterized by relatively low power of up to several hundred Watt. The second group based on the EPS with low- and medium-power EP (1…2 kW) is intended for securing operation of the orbit correction and maintenance systems of SC with the mass of several tons. Primary task of the third group is to secure maneuvers for heavy (5 tons and over) interorbital platforms (4…6 kW EP). The fourth group comprises propulsion systems with nuclear reactors (NPP) and EP of 20…30 kW in power for the near-earth and lunar transportation missions. The fifth group comprises super-power PS of MW class with the EP power of 50…100 kW for the deep space exploration, transportation and interplanetary missions.


thruster; Hall thruster; plasma thruster; electric thruster; thrust; specific impulse; power; propulsion unit; interorbital

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