Electric propulsion is currently considered by all space actors as a key and revolutionary technology for the next generations of commercial and scientific satellites. This increasing interest is associated with massive mass savings, lower costs, improved efficiency, as well as lower pollution.
Electric propulsion has been studied, developed and tested for several decades but it has not been widely employed in Western space missions until recently, partly due to the unavailability of sufficient electrical power on board the spacecraft. The new technical achievements and increasing levels of electrical power on new developed spacecraft make electric propulsion a very attractive and often superior alternative to chemical propulsion in space.
There are various applications which currently make or will may make use of Electric Propulsion Systems in the future such as Earth Observation, Earth science, navigation, telecommunications as well as space exploration missions.
Electric propulsion offers major improvements in fuel efficiency, enabling dramatic weight and volume savings which leads to significantly lower launch costs.