Snecma's PPS®1350-E plasma thruster sets world record

Vernon, France – July 22, 2014. The PPS®1350-E plasma thruster from Snecma (Safran) has completed a series of endurance tests totaling 6,700 hours of operation, for a total impulse* of 3.4 million Newton-seconds (MN.s), a world record for this type of thruster.

Based on this performance, the PPS®1350-E electric propulsion solution is fully capable of carrying out two major functions on today's satellites: part of the transfer of a geostationary satellite into its definitive orbit, then stationkeeping throughout its orbital life. This type of electric propulsion system significantly decreases satellite weight, by reducing the amount of chemical propellant needed for the orbital transfer phase.

Tests were carried out in several phases from January 2013 to July 2014 on a space vacuum test rig at Snecma' plant in Vernon, west of Paris.

Rated at 2.5 kW of electrical power, the PPS®1350-E is derived from the 1.5-kW PPS®1350-G, already qualified. Between 2003 and 2006, the PPS®1350-G powered the European Space Agency's Smart-1 probe from Earth orbit into lunar orbit. Four of these thrusters provide North-South stationkeeping on the Alphasat satellite, launched in July 2013. The PPS®1350-E has already been chosen for an upgraded Alphabus platform, with qualification expected in early 2016.

David Quancard, head of the Space Engines division of Snecma, said, "Reaching this development milestone confirms the excellent potential of our line of PPS plasma thrusters, and their benefits for tomorrow's satellite platforms. This milestone was achieved thanks to financial support from French space agency CNES, and clearly validates our customers' confidence in us."

Snecma has developed electric thrusters for more than 30 years, and now offers a range of Hall effect plasma thrusters and propulsion systems rated at 300W to 20 kW. Used in an "all electric" configuration, this technology reduces the weight of a geostationary satellite by 40%.

In addition to the PPS®1350 product line (1.5-2.5kW), Snecma is developing the PPS®5000 (5kW) family of thrusters to meet propulsion requirements for future generations of all-electric satellites (no longer requiring chemical propulsion systems). Both Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space France have already chosen the PPS®5000 for their platforms.

* Total impulse is the product of the thrust and the time over which it is applied.

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Snecma is part of Safran, an international high-technology group with three core businesses: aerospace, defence and security. Snecma designs, builds and sells propulsion systems for air and space, including a wide range of commercial engines that are powerful, reliable, economical and environmentally-friendly, led by the global best-seller CFM56 and the new-generation LEAP*. The company also makes world-class military aircraft engines, as well as rocket propulsion systems and equipment for satellites and launch vehicles. Snecma is a leading provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for civil and military aircraft engines, under the new EngineLife® brand, offering comprehensive support for customers around the world.

*CFM56 and LEAP engines are produced and marketed by CFM International, a 50/50 joint company of Snecma (Safran), France and GE of the United States.

Giulia Lecarrié
Press Officer Snecma (Safran)
Tel. : +33 (0)1 69 87 09 29 / Mob : +33 (0)6 42 40 17 19
giulia.lecarrie@snecma.fr