ISRO’s electronic propulsion system to increase satellite life

Defence News: Indian space organization ISRO placed the GSAT-09 with a new and significant propulsion technology. It uses 75% less fuel than conventional motors and will pave way for bigger payloads due to reduced weight and more life due to longer burn periods with the same fuel.

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Image: GSAT-09 with it’s new propulsion, Credit: ISRO.

The GSAT-09 carried one fourth of fuel it otherwise would with a conventional system. The EPS on GSAT-09 will begin functioning two weeks after the launch, when the satellite will eventually go to its final slot in space, and continue to operate after that.  Satellites need micro-motors that run on fuel to make changes to their path like orbit raising, correction and preventing premature orbit decay. Also during emergencies like avoiding known collisions and solar flares, motors may be used to change path of a satellite in space.

2,000-kg class communication satellites generally carry around 200-300 kg. This means the workload a 5,000-kg satellite can take can be achieved by a 3,500-3,700 kg satellite equipped with EPS. “To cut that burden to just 25% is a gamechanger.It allows us to manage satellites with long lives -GSAT-09 has 12 years of expectancy -more efficiently,” an ISRO scientist said.

As per a DRDO/ The Hindu Release: Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the two day 10th International High Energy Materials Conference and Exhibition here on Thursday, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) K. Sivan said besides VSSC, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) and ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) were working on developing electric propulsion system for use on satellites. “In two years, we may be able to achieve it,” he said. He said the cryogenic engine for GSLV MarkIII will be undergoing stage-level test soon and the target to achieve flight test is December this year. Regarding Chandrayaan-II, he said the objective was to land a rover on the moon and carry out in-situ experiments. ISRO was also developing various technologies required for a manned mission, which was yet to be approved by the government.

As of now, Isro uses foreign launch vehicles for heavy weight satellites. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) family, the Mark-III to be tested later this year, will expand its capacity as far as weight goes.

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Baldeva Singh is a tough talking nationalist who has a flair for writing. Defence matters, technical details on weapons and war scenarios are his key expert areas. Baldev is known to walk the talk in his personal life. He is from Patiala (Punjab). His friends call him a “blunt weapon” but he is often found reading old books when free!

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