Since several years, the industrialisation of the satellite market has accelerated. In particular, the market for telecom satellites has changed significantly, because of several new players and numerous plans for satellite constellations. In addition, the market for Earth observation satellites is in motion, as the new market actors are not only focusing on telecommunication services, but also target earth observation missions.
In parallel to this development, electric propulsion, with its high mass efficiency, became an enabler to improve the cost efficiency of satellites, especially with respect to launch costs, because it allows the launch of more satellites per launch vehicle instead of just one. However, so far the savings have been potentially eaten up by the additional costs of the electric propulsion system, which are mainly influenced by the complexity of the required electronics (PPU) and the high cost of the xenon propellant.
The iFACT unique thruster principle paired with the use of iodine as propellant and a tailored feeding architecture has the potential to significantly change the space sector. The iFACT subsystem enables a serious reduction of subsystem mass, in particular the dry mass required for the propellant feeding along with the cost and volume savings of the propellant itself.