The 8th International Conference on Space Propulsion 3AF – Association Aéronautique et Astronautique de France, and Agencies, ESA, CNES, DLR and ASI was held in Estoril, Portugal from 9 to 13 of May, 2022. More than 700 professionals from over 30 countries participated in the conference, including engineers and scientists from government, university and industry. Project GIESEPP MP team members from Airbus, ArianeGroup and Justus-Liebig University of Giessen were also among the participants to share their knowledge gained during the implementation of the project.
“After 2 years of restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic when it was impossible to participate in mass events, this conference was a great opportunity to meet our partners, agencies representatives and few sub-contractors involved in current and future electric propulsion units.”
Fabien Malet, Airbus
Professionals representing various organisations all over Europe presented their activities and progress in the field of electric space propulsion. The market trend and the positioning of many European actors on current and future large applications, such as constellation, is also a game changer, which should improve competitiveness in terms of the volume of the systems. In addition, newcomers presented interesting results and road maps that could address, in a first step, Cubesat and MicroSat missions with ambitious advancements in performance improvements and cost reduction.
Our team’s main goal was to demonstrate the progress in the development of the gridded ion thruster and RIT-2X Power Processing Unit (PPU). In addition, Konstantin Keil from Justus Liebig University Giessen delivered a presentation “Ion optics simulation with the Particle-In-Cell method and calculation of grid erosion”.
The main focus of Konstantin’s presentation is the modelling of grid erosion. Grid erosion is a major lifetime-limiting effect of gridded ion engines. By using computer modelling, the aim of Justus Liebig University Giessen team is to predict this effect for the evaluation of gridded ion engines. For this purpose, they use the Particle-In-Cell method to describe the movement of the ions inside the grid system and the Monte Carlo method for the neutral gas particles. The team uses this to model charge exchange processes, since the thruster’s grids erode as a result of the sputtering process that occurs when hit by ions that have undergone a charge exchange process.
“The International Conference on Space Propulsion was a great opportunity for me to gain wider insights not only in the field of electric space propulsion but also in the field of chemical thrusters. Of course, it was also a great opportunity for me to meet project GIESEPP MP team members in person and make new connections with professionals from other organisations. I was interested in the different thrust balances that were presented. In particular, the plans of DACTEM to develop a 2D thrust balance.”
Konstantin Keil, Justus Liebig University Giessen