The objective of the activity is to develop, manufacture and test an electric propulsion thruster that does not require a neutraliser to operate nominally with a minimum of 25% of thrust efficiency (based on operation with air as the propellant).Targeted Improvements:Increase thrust efficiency by more than 50% to reach a minimum of 25%.Description: Traditional Electric Propulsion (EP) technologies make use of an electron emitter, or cathode, to neutralise the flux of positive ions that is emitted by the thruster, in order to maintain a neutral-charge system and to avoid major interaction of the beam with the rest of the spacecraft. The technologies typically used for the cathodes are very sensible to perturbations in the gas used and the operating environment. This is especially challenging for platforms expected to fly in Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO), notably limiting their lifetime. Alternative electric propulsion systems exist that emit a quasi-neutral beam, thus not requiring the use of a neutraliser. This characteristic is ideal for VLEO applications.Several developments exist in Europe, however all of them have demonstrated low efficiency so far (5 - 15%). Initial studies for VLEO applications have shown that an increase of the thruster efficiency to at least 25% (based on operation withair as the propellant) is necessary to have these technologies considered as an alternative to conventional technologies. A cathode-less thruster will be designed to meet the efficiency objective, including plasma and magnetic models (ideally, a coupled plasma-magnetic model). A thruster breadboard will then be manufactured and tested to characterise the thruster performance and to evaluate the efficiency and lifetime capabilities of the technology.Procurement Policy: C(1) = Activity restricted to non-prime contractors (incl. SMEs). For additional information please go to:…

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