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Sweden’s GomSPACE Tapped By ESA To Develop Miniaturized Electric Propulsion System

Image courtesy of the European Space Agency (ESA).

GomSpace’s subsidiary in Sweden and ESA have signed a contract to develop a miniaturized electric propulsion system suitable for small spacecrafts going on interplanetary missions.

The contract will be carried out under ESA’s General Support Technology Program during the next 18 months, and the value is EUR 700,000.

The work will be led by GomSpace Sweden and executed together with ASP Equipment and IMS Space Consultancy.

Small satellites are also being considered in the frame of interplanetary science missions, and in case the small spacecraft is not hitch-hiking on a mother craft, reliable high-performance propulsion is a necessity. In this project, the goal is to develop an electric propulsion system that can take a 20-40 kg class spacecraft from the edge of the Earth’s gravitational field to an asteroid.

“This is an important step in expanding our propulsion capabilities. Providing such small spacecraft with its own propulsion capability of this caliber will significantly reduce the cost to perform interplanetary missions. Furthermore, such a propulsion capability will also find several applications on the commercial market in Earth orbits as well,” says CEO Niels Buus from GomSpace.

The project will expand GomSpace’s propulsion capabilities to span both cold-gas technology for station-keeping, collision avoidance and maneuvering as well as electric propulsion technology for orbit changes, e.g. for safely disposing of spacecraft after the end of a mission.

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