Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced that it has completed the first series of tests of its ‘Venµs’ satellite’s electric propulsion system. As part of a joint venture between the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) and the French Space Agency (CNES), the Venµs satellite is carrying Rafael’s electric propulsion system, which is the first of its kind.

Rafael also said that it has conducted a ‘conclusive system test’, and that the system can now be declared operational. All the tests were carried out from Rafael’s Technological Mission Center, through an IAI ground communication station. Further experiments and tests are planned to estimate and evaluate the performance of the space propulsion system.

Electric propulsion

According to Rafael, the advantages of electric propulsion in space include significantly improved performance compared to traditional chemical propulsion, as well as reduced satellite mass. Electric propulsion is also five times more efficient than traditional chemical propulsion in terms of fuel consumption and satellite life, the company says. In addition, it enables lower launch costs.

Jacob Herscovitz, Head of the Venµs Project at Rafael, said: “In recent years there has been a clear trend in the world, of transition from traditional chemical propulsion to electric propulsion, thanks to the improved performance achieved with electric propulsion: orbit control accuracy, satellite life, fuel savings, green propellant, etc.”

He added: “Many foreign customers are showing great interest in the advanced electric propulsion systems developed by Rafael. The success of the Venµs satellite is expected to increase the interest in these systems. Rafael space components are on board of about 70 satellites launched in space, showing successful operation.”