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Electric propulsion satellites

Leading the race in electric propulsion satellites

Electric propulsion makes it possible to reduce the mass of satellites, leading to lower launch costs for a given mission and/or a more capable satellite for a given mass. Airbus Defence and Space has been using electric propulsion for station keeping for more than ten years, and is building the first large satellites using only electric propulsion for initial orbit raising.

A key element is the use of reliable solutions that keep overall system costs under control and reduce the duration of orbit raising. After several years’ development to implement EOR on its Eurostar offering, building on a sound and proven product line and making it evolve gradually, Airbus Defence and Space successfully introduced the new Eurostar E3000EOR version (in short, E3000e) to the market in 2014 with two contracts from two major operators, SES and Eutelsat. These two contracts exemplify different aspects of the benefits electric propulsion can bring to satellite operators, in different segments of the market. With the reduction in launch mass full electric orbit raising allows, extremely powerful missions can be offered with payloads of typically 15kW/1500 kg for 5-6 tonne class satellites, or regular missions above 10 kW with lower launch costs.

Electric propulsion satellite

As an example, the recently ordered SES-14 satellite, combining power and flexibility, will have a double mission. The first will be a wide-beam payload of C and Ku-band, covering the Americas plus a link to Europe. The other payload, called High Throughput Satellite (HTS) with numerous user beams, will combine an on-board processor with multi-beam coverage of the Americas and the North Atlantic. This means, the mass saving from electric propulsion enables Airbus Defence and Space to combine two high-capacity missions, equivalent to two conventional satellites in one satellite.


Telecommunication satelliteElectric PropulsionEurostar E3000SESAirbus Defence and Space