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Gridded Ion Engine Standardised Electric Propulsion Platforms

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GIESEPP (Gridded Ion Engine Standardised Electric Propulsion Platforms)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-08-31

Electric Propulsion provides an order of magnitude improvement in fuel efficiency over chemical propulsion systems, enabling less launcher cost, longer operational life, or increased revenue for operators because of the increase in payload that EP facilitates. Electric Propulsion is a key technology for access to space. Europe needs to master this technology and be at the forefront in term of competitiveness. The difference in engine type arises through performance requirements: typically HETs are used for higher thrust and therefore faster orbit repositioning, whereas gridded ion engines have twice the fuel efficiency as HETs and therefore yield far more significant savings in satellite mass and cost.
Gridded Ion Engines give satellite manufacturers a choice: the ability to lower their costs through lowering the mass of their satellites, rather than the HET’s ability to earn revenue earlier through a faster time to reach station.
The European Union has two manufacturers of Gridded Ion Engines, ArianeGroup in Germany who builds the Radiofrequency Ion Thrusters (RIT-series) and QinetiQ in the UK who builds the T-series Ion Thrusters, both with extensives European EP heritage.
Market volume will grow from one-off sales to over one hundred systems per year across telecommunications, navigation and science satellites. Constellations could lead to hundreds of additional EP sales worldwide. Emerging markets are also foreseen for growing areas such as debris removal, refueling and end-of-life disposal from small to large satellites. Europe’s ability to compete in this market will depend in part in having a wide portfolio of EP solutions, of which Gridded Ion Engines are a key part.
The objective of the GIESEPP consortium is to develop, build and test to TRL5 the first European Plug and Play Gridded Ion Engine Standardised Electric Propulsion Platform (GIESEPP) to operate ArianeGroup and QinetiQ Space ion engines. These are the only European ion engines in the 200-700W (LEO) and 5kW (GEO) domains that are space-proven, and the consortium will improve European competiveness in this field by significantly reducing the costs and increasing the GIE systems production capacities and maintain and secure the European non-dependence on this crucial technological field.
In addition, the 5kW electric propulsion system will be designed to allow clustering for 20kW EPS (GIESEPP 1S) for space transportation, exploration and interplanetary missions. In order to cope with challenging mission scenarios, Dual Mode functionality of the thrusters will be realized. This ensures that the beneficial high Isp characteristics of Gridded Ion Engines are maintained, whilst also offering a competitive higher thrust mode. The GIESEPP systems will not be limited to xenon as an operating medium; assessments will be performed to ensure functionality with alternative propellants.
The proposal will describe the roadmap to higher TRL by 2023-2024. The anticipated business case is targeted for long term exploitation up to 2030 strengthening Europe's technological and economical competiveness in a very fast changing market environment.
The GIESEPP Project is planned in 5 phases: Phase 1 Mission Scenarios, Platforms, Requirements and Gap Identification, Phase 2 Electric Propulsion System Definition, Phase 3 Electric Propulsion System Development and Cost Optimisation, Phase 4 Build, Procure, Assemble and Prepare Standardised Tests and Phase 5 Test and Analyisis.
Within phase 1 candidate platforms for
• GEO and
• space transportation, exploration and interplanetary missions
have been defined and assessed toward implementation of the GIESEPP platform as driving design element for the candidate platform. Preliminary requirements were provided and assessed from EP subsystem and component point of view. The identification of technical and performance gaps of all key EP elements has been done. First assessments regarding the functionality with alternative propellants were started both on single component and on GIESEPP systems level. System trade-offs were performed reflected in a preliminary GIESEPP definition for the complete EPS and the single components

Phase 2 was dedicated to the definition of the GIESEPP system coping with the requirements of the platforms prime. After the concept review of the EPS, design assessments on platform level were performed in order to define design sensitivity parameters influencing both GIESEPP design on one hand and candidate platforms design on the other hand. The design sensitivity (technical and economical) parameters lead to further refinement of the candidate platforms requirements toward the GIESEPP systems and in consequence to its components. Specifications of the components of GIESEPP were defined and design and development plans were set up.

Phase 3 has dealt widely with the consolidation of requirements and the assessment of trade-offs on the other hand. Also a particular attention was put to assess market expectations and to have those aligned with the design inputs. Further intense assessment was put on the degree of modularity and communality between the different platforms. In parallel a constant assessment on costs and prices was ongiong. Those activities reflected in two dedicated PDRs for both the 1G/1S and the 12L platforms respectively. Details on the Phase 3 logic is found in the document h2020-tmpl-periodic-rep_en_GIESEPP_V2

Phase 4 has been started as soon as PDRs were widely closed and is currently ongoing.

More Details on the Phase 1 logic is found in the document h2020-tmpl-periodic-rep_en_GIESEPP_V1
By the end of the project the GIESEPP consortium will have provided a major contribution to the European Space Industry by strengthening its footprint in orbital propulsion with competitive and high performance products that will play a significant role in future space programs.
The European space industry plays a significant role to the progress of society in terms of building-up competences and skills in high technology fields, increasing the offer of interesting and fulfilling workplaces, contributing with products and services to space missions in the field of science, exploration, communication, earth observation and many more, that bring mankind further in its self-sustaining progress.

GIESEPP will deliver different electric propulsion configurations including Gridded Ion Engines (GIE), Power Processing Unit (PPU), Xenon Propellant Management System (XPMS) and Neutraliser Cathodes, to meet the future needs of the competitive GEO Telecoms, LEO Constellation and Exploration needs.
• GIESEPP 1G (5kW), Telecommunication and Navigation
• GIESEPP 1L 2L (200-700W), LEO
• GIESEPP 1S (20kW), Space Transportation / Exploration / Interplanetary applications

By developing these configurations, the GIESEPP consortium will gain on system level worldwide technology leadership in the fields of high Isp electric propulsion and Xenon fluid control systems and maintain and secure European non-dependence. On subsystem level the GIESEPP consortium will incrementally develop the European RIT-series and T-series GIE thrusters to improve performance, share common interfaces wherever possible, and drive down thruster costs. As a particularity of GIESEPP the project ensures to offer solutions that are not single-source bound but offers future customer the possibility to consider easy adaptable alternatives from the scratch.