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Safran, a major player in plasma propulsion

Safran designs and builds a wide range of plasma thrusters and complete propulsion subsystems covering the entire lifecycle of a satellite, from orbital positioning to deorbiting.

The best of Safran Aircraft Engines’ technology

40% lighter for the same payload capacity and performance

PPS®1350-G Stationary Plasma Thruster - Simulated altitude test

European leader in plasma propulsion

Safran constantly adapts its product range to address evolving customer orbital injection strategies and requirements in terms of cost and availability. Electric propulsion reduces the launch weight of a satellite by over 40%, compared to conventional chemical propulsion.

The baseline solution

Plasma propulsion has become the go-to solution for satellite positioning, orbital transfer and stationkeeping, because it offers significant weight savings over conventional chemical propulsion. Bombarding atoms from the fuel (usually xenon) with electrons creates a plasma ejected at high speed to provide propulsion with very high specific impulse (propulsive efficiency).

PPS®1350-E stationary plasma thruster

PPS®1350

The PPS®1350 stationary plasma thruster draws on Safran Aircraft Engines’ long experience with electric propulsion. It is designed for orbital transfer, stationkeeping and deorbiting satellites and other spacecraft. In particular, the PPS 1350 was the primary engine on ESA’s lunar probe, Smart-1, launched in 2003 by an Ariane 5 rocket. This mission was completed in September 2006.

PPS®5000

PPS®5000

The PPS®5000 plasma thruster is purpose-designed for “all-electric” satellites. It can operate in high-thrust or high specific impulse mode, and offers an operating lifespan of about 15,000 hours. This means it can handle orbital positioning and stationkeeping duties for a wide range of telecom and navigation satellites, as well as exploration spacecraft. The PPS®5000 was fully qualified in 2021.

PPS®X00

The latest member of our family of Hall effect plasma thrusters, the PPS®X00 was designed to address the specific requirements inherent in the “New Space” market environment. With a lifespan exceeding 5,000 hours and very high specific impulse, the PPS®X00 is an extremely versatile thruster, making it ideal for all types of applications in its core market: low Earth orbit (LEO).

Key figures
years of experience meeting customer requirements
60
A wide range of thrusters
200 ~ 2,500 W

Propulsion subsystems

Safran Aircraft Engines supports customers by offering complete propulsion subsystems including PPS® Hall effect plasma thrusters, the fluid control system and the electronic power processing unit (PPU), while also taking charge of all required interfaces.

  • © Safran
  • © Bertrand Lecuyer ORAO Productions
  • © Bertrand Lecuyer - ORAO Productions / Safran
  • © Eric Forterre / Safran