High-power solar electric propulsion (HPSEP) enables spacecraft injection into a low Earth orbit (LEO) with HPSEP used for orbit raising. This significantly reduces the launch capacity needs and allows multi-manifesting of spacecraft, increased spacecraft mass for more mission hardware, or the use of smaller launch vehicles for lower launch cost. The tradeoff is longer transfer time to the mission orbit. Once on-orbit, HPSEP also provides much greater electrical power to support advanced spacecraft mission needs.
This paper explores the impacts of HPSEP on the future of space from satellite acquisition and space architecture perspectives.
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