Once a spacecraft is in orbit, electric ion thrusters allow manoeuvres to be performed using much lower quantities of propellant than conventional liquid propulsion. QinetiQ’s gridded ion engine electric propulsion systems extend spacecraft life, enhance payload capability, provide greater operational flexibility and reduce launch costs.
QinetiQ’s 3.5m x 8m EP test chamber
Our thrusters are deployed in high profile space projects – providing altitude control for ESA’s Gravity and Steady State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), and enabling the ESA/JAXA Bepi Colombo Mission to reach Mercury’s orbit in 2018, for instance.
We’re also developing a high power electric propulsion system that will enable commercial communications satellites to stay in orbit longer and carry a greater payload.