Safran Electronics & Defense and Terran Orbital have signed a Memorandum of Agreement for production of a new generation of electric propulsion systems for satellites in the USA, based on Safran’s PPSX00 plasma thruster.

Electric propulsion

The companies will undertake an in-depth analysis to determine the technical, industrial and economic prerequisites for a new US-based production line for electric propulsion systems. The location under consideration is a Terran Orbital facility in Irvine, California, which produces microsatellites. In addition to providing the American space industry with a local source of satellite thrusters, contributing to the economy and employment, this new line will match Safran’s production facilities in France, eventually doubling the company’s international production capacity.

Developing effective and sustainable propulsion systems for satellites is a critical challenge worldwide, as increasingly stringent international regulations stipulate greater sustainability and resilience in spacecraft. A higher degree of spacecraft manoeuvrability is needed to avoid collisions, along with a system to deorbit low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites at the end of their service life. Safran’s PPSX00 plasma thrusters, rated at about one kilowatt of power, will be used to meet the burgeoning mobility requirements of LEO satellites.

Top-of-the-line systems

Jean-Marie Bétermier, Senior Vice President Space at Safran Electronics & Defense, said, “Our alliance with Terran Orbital will contribute to the emergence of a complementary source of supply for electric propulsion systems to meet the growing needs of the space industry.”

“This deal reflects Safran Electronics & Defense’s faith in the value of Terran Orbital’s industry-leading products and innovative personnel, while adding to our strategic investments to create more scalable, automated, vertically integrated production systems,” said Marc Bell, Terran Orbital’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman. “Terran Orbital looks forward to working with Safran Electronics & Defense to create top-of-the-line propulsion systems that make spacecraft more resilient and manoeuvrable at faster delivery rates and lower costs for our national security and commercial customers.”

Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter