A Mission Enabling Electric Propulsion Resistojet Subsystem Manufactured by Selective Laser Melting

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment


The project aims to develop a novel high performance refractory metal resistojet thruster as a mission enabling thruster for the Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. spacecraft product line. Resistojets significantly improve the performance of traditional cold gas propulsion systems by electrically heating the propellant. This has enabled numerous missions including the European GPS Galileo Testbed (GSTB) GIOVE validation satellites. The primary driver of this technology is now the 'all-electric propulsion' bus. All-electric geostationary telecom spacecraft plan to host only an electric ion propulsion system operating with a xenon propellant to perform orbit raising and station keeping in place of the traditional hydrazine propellant system, representing a significant change in the market. This presents competitive cost savings, from the absence of hazardous hydrazine, a fuel mass saving due to greater fuel efficiency and further cost savings in launch vehicle options for lighter spacecraft. However, a new type of thruster is required to fulfil the attitude control role of the absent chemical system. The logical solution is a set of thrusters that operate from a common inert xenon propellant with the electric propulsions system.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509747/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1938445 Studentship EP/N509747/1 25/09/2017 30/09/2020 Christopher Ogunlesi