RSC Energia: work continues on the development of a new electric thruster

November 29, 2018

RSC Energia is conducting ground experiments to study the operation of a new iodine electric thruster.

Specialists from the laboratory of advanced propulsion systems of the Corporation have studied ion thruster start-up in different modes: both with a standard xenon cathode, and, for the first time, with a new non-flow neutralizer cathode.

The study of the new thruster properties will continue in orbit. Scientific and Technical Coordination Council of the State Corporation Roscosmos included in the long-term program of applied scientific research on the ISS RS an experiment called Ostrovsky. It will be carried out in two stages.

At first, the crew of the ISS Russian Segment will study the operation of the non-flow neutralizer cathode, by running the thruster on xenon. For safetys sake, the developers decided to test the thruster running on iodine without crew participation: during the second stage of the experiment the electric thruster will be installed on logistics spacecraft Progress, which is going to stay in free light for 30 days after undocking. It is planned to monitor the start-up of the thruster and its operational modes via a video link. Scientists will also study the effects of iodine on spacecraft materials.

The principal investigator in this experiment is RSC Energia, and its scientific supervisor is an academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences G.A. Popov.

The space experiment Ostrovsky is named after Valery Georgievich Ostrovsky, senior research scientist at Energia, who was the first to propose the use of iodine as propellant for an electric thruster. The advantage of such a thruster, lies, first of all, in its cost efficiency. Iodine is considerably less expensive than xenon and does not require a complex storage and supply system. At the same time, the key parameters of iodine thrusters are just as good as those of xenon thrusters.

The advanced thruster that is being developed by Energia specialists can be used both for orbital corrections and as a main engine, as well as to meet deep space transportation needs.




December 3, 2018
LV Soyuz-FG with SC Soyuz MS-11 is launched
November 16, 2018
LV Soyuz-FG with SC Progress MS-10 is launched

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