De-Risking Development Activities for Customized RIT 2X

Status date
Activity Code

The ARTES 5.2 activity secured the transition from the RIT22 system toward the customised solution RIT2X. The objectives were the verification and evaluation of the design toward feasibility and industrial robustness in order to cope with desired cadence of the commercial customer. The imposed requirements have been verified and assessed by various analytical and testing approaches in order to minimize the risks for the final design. The main objectives were the system customization evaluation and modification impact assessment, BB and EM model build up, performing test campaigns and design finalisation by test results and analytical simulations evaluation.

Finial design and development activities, including qualification of the RIT2X Sub-system according to customers demand is part of the follow-on ARTES C&G - Product activity.


Compared to the RIT22, the RIT2X is a larger diameter thruster with an improved design, mainly to ease manufacturing and test, but also to further increase robustness in order to minimize production risks with significantly higher diameter sizes.

In context of such improved design, the main challenge is to fulfil the technical challenging requirements toward schedule, cost, mass, robustness, thrust and specific impulse.


The market demand for electric propulsion systems as sole propulsive means for satellite transport has recently increased significantly. The reason for this is a high mass saving compared to Chemical Propulsion which allows the use of smaller and cheaper launchers.

The current customer perception is that high thrust is required for orbit raise after release from launcher. For on-station manoeuvres such as NSSK manoeuvres, high Isp thruster operation is desirable to save precious propellant and assure long live of the telecommunication satellite.

Several electric propulsion technologies have been investigated for decades but only few are considered relevant for the implementation on a telecoms satellite. They clearly differ in their technological way to ionise and accelerate the propellant and show different performances. The Radiofrequency Ion Thruster offers high specific impulse operation. High mass savings can be achieved which allow the desired use of low-cost launchers and offer the increase of payload capabilities at the same time.


The Thruster Assembly consists of the RIT2X Thruster, neutraliser, radiofrequency generator, xenon flow control and supporting brackets. The Assembly is optimised to the three operational points: High Power/High Impulse; High Power/ High Thrust; Low Power Station Keeping Mode. The power ranges from 2.3 to 5kW providing a thrust range 80 to 205mN and specific impulse up to 3800s. 

System Architecture

The RIT Subsystem is a harmonized arrangement of equipment that is well suited to fulfil the technical requirements. It consists of a set of RIT2X Thrusters with their neutralisers, radiofrequency generators and xenon flow low controllers. Propellant tanks and propellant distribution are in the proposed baseline under the responsibility of the commercial customer.

Depending on customers request and the power range to be covered, the RIT2X system will be offered with either two power processing units (covering application up to 10kW). or four power processing units (covering application up to 20kW).


Preliminary Design Review

25 - 27.04.2016

Engineering Model TRR


Critical Design Review

22 - 24.05.2017

ARTES 5.2 Final Review


Current status

The project has been completed on schedule and to cost. All objectives have been achieved. The final review of the project was held on 29.09.2017.

In parallel, ARTES C&G activities for the product aiming at the qualification of the RIT2X system has been started in May 2017. 

Prime Contractor