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  • To develop, in the mid-term, the European capacity to compete in the worldwide arena of electric propulsion satellites.
  • To substantially increase medium and long term competitiveness of existing EP system technologies with a technology/application-driven approach.
  • To pursue developments which shall be mainly market-oriented, beneficial at system level and with a strategic view to long term needs.
  • To enable medium and longer term applications: Telecom, Space Transportation, LEO, MEO, Exploration and Science.
  • To anticipate ambitious long-term market evolution and strategic opportunities, so that the developed systems create new markets and shape existing ones.


Incremental technologies are those considered mature enough at the moment to allow for incremental steps to enable capabilities such as dual mode, higher/lower power, Electric Orbit Raising (EOR), required by a number of applications such as telecommunications, LEO / MEO missions, space science and exploration, space transportation which the current systems (some of them qualified and some with flight heritage) are not able to provide.

Proposals shall, therefore, enable incremental advances in the already known technologies for Electric Propulsion systems based on:

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  • Hall Effect Thrusters (HET)
  • Gridded Ion Engines (GIE)
  • High Efficiency Multistage Plasma Thrusters (HEMPT)
  • A detailed description of the above lines is included in the corresponding guidelines[[<a href=""></a>]].

    Proposals on incremental technologies should demonstrate the readiness and interest to carry the developments further on through future calls of this SRC, by including a long-term plan and specifications for the developments to reach the higher TRLs in 2023-2024 and a business plan on how to access the selected market with a full range of competitive products. These plans and specifications should be analysed in depth through a dedicated work package as an integral part of the proposal.

    Proposals should seek to cover developments suited for more than one application domain, in order to widen the achievable capabilities.

    A maximum of one proposal per aforementioned technology (1, 2, 3) will be selected, with the target of supporting all three technologies.

    The Commission considers that proposals for the incremental technologies requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 7.5 and 11 million (line 1 / HET), EUR 5.5 and 7.5 million (line 2 / GIE), EUR 4.5 and 5.5 million (line 3 / HEMPT).

    Grants awarded under this sub-topic will be complementary to each other and complementary to grants awarded under sub-topic COMPET-3-2016-b ("complementary grants"). In order to ensure a smooth and successful implementation of this Strategic Research Cluster (SRC), the beneficiaries of complementary grants ("complementary beneficiaries") shall conclude a written "collaboration agreement". The respective options of Article 2, Article 31.6 and Article 41.4 of the Model Grant Agreement will apply.


    The challenge of this strategic research cluster (SRC) is to enable major advances in Electric Propulsion (EP) for in-space operations and transportation, in order to contribute to guarantee the leadership through competitiveness and non-dependence[[See definition of "non-dependence" in the Joint EC-ESA-EDA Task Force list of actions for 2015-2017 (<a href=""></a>).]] of European capabilities in electric propulsion at world level within the 2020-2030 timeframe, always in coherence with the existing and planned developments at national, commercial and ESA level.

    Furthermore, electric propulsion will have implications on several aspects of space systems, such as the need to increase on-board power supply capabilities, which may be addressed in future calls of this SRC.

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