Cost Reductions and Fuel Efficiency: High-Power Solar Electric Propulsion in Space

Technological progress in space propulsion and space power will disrupt the traditional paradigm of spacecraft design, acquisition, launch, and operations. How might solar electric propulsion fit in?

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Solar electric propulsion

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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