High Performance Low Cost Electric Propulsion for small satellites


Credit: Queen Mary University

Even though the current state-of-art electric propulsion (EP) systems provide impressive performance, these technologies have not been possible to scale down in size, whilst retaining system performance. As a result, such technologies are not available for nano- and micro satellites. The HiperLoc-EP project aim to use a novel approach to develop an Electrospray Colloid Electric Propulsion System (ECEPS). The project seeks to develop a disruptive electric propulsion technology that provides a high performance EP system – to a cost that is at least one order of magnitude lower than today. A High Performance Low Cost Electric Propulsion system would enhance the functionality, performance and the value of many micro/nanosatellite missions in the future. The objectives include identifying the performance requirements, enhancing the TRL for an ECEPS system, and understanding key processes in order to determine the optimal way to operate an ECEPS. Also included in this project is the design, manufacture and test of an ECEPS breadboard. The duration of the project is 24 months starting in January 2017.


The 4 consortium participants all have specific expertise in miniaturized and/or electric propulsion technologies for spacecraft:

qmul-logoQMUL(UK) provides the leading understanding and expertise in Europe of electrospray processes and systems, having pioneered this research for the past 16 years.

systematic-logoSystematIC (Netherlands) is a IC design house with focus on analog and mixed signal integrated circuit. Has delivered power supply and control circuitry to the Delphi C3 nanosatellite.

airbus-logoThe team also includes Airbus DS (UK) – one of Europe’s leading satellite prime contractors and a recognized expert within the field of electric propulsion and as a user of such systems.

nanospace-logoNanoSpace AB (Sweden), has expertise in miniaturized propulsion systems and was among the first to fly a propulsion system onboard a CubeSat in 2015.

The HiperLoc-EP system is anticipated to operate at an efficiency of 50% at an Isp of 2500s. The cost target for HiperLoc-EP is to be feasible also for CubeSats and nanosatellites.  Thus, HiperLoc-EP will provide Europe with an internationally commercially competitive, highly performing EP thruster in the timescale for 2020 and beyond.

For further information visit the HiperLoc-EP project website.