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India is developing an electric propulsion system for heavier satellites

Aug 3, 2018, 10:30 am

A report from yesterday, August 2 states that the Indian Space Research Organization has started developing an EPS (electric propulsion system) to reduce dependency on chemical propellant.

ISRO is working on Electric Propulsion System (EPS) which can reduce the dependence on chemical propellant. A 4-ton satellite with EPS can do the work of a 6-ton satellite with the same efficiency. In addition, it will also have a few extra years of life compared to chemical propulsion. – Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Space

ISRO is known worldwide for launching small satellites and has launched 26 vehicle missions so far. It has put 28 Indian satellites and 202 foreign satellites into the earth’s orbit. It is yet to launch communication satellites that are heavier than 4 metric tons. That slot in ISRO’s stat is not going to be zero anymore, and the time for the change has begun, thanks to its developmental works on the EPS.

The electric propulsion can provide higher thrust level as compared to the chemical counterpart. At the same time, electric propulsion is not limited in energy. Therefore, a spacecraft can be sent at low-level thrust with very little mass.

At present, ISRO will have to hinge on to foreign facilities for launching the future 6-ton satellites. These facilities are located in Ariane, French Guiana.

The EPS system was the first (trial) drone South Asia Satellite (SAS) — GSAT-9 launched in the year 2017 and is working satisfactory. – Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Space

According to sources, ISRO is pushing its works for increasing the thrust level of electric propulsion. Its current level is at below 300 millinewtons. This low-level thrust will take 6 months to reach the orbit for any spacecraft of today.

As for the chemical propulsion of ISRO, it presently provides 440-Newton thrust that takes the satellites into the orbit within a few days.

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