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Development of a stationary plasma thruster on krypton with power up to 1 kW for small spacecrafts
Vladislav Zakharchenko

Last modified: 2023-06-29



Zakharchenko V.S., Kim V.P., Merkurev D.V., Shilov E.A., Kalyazin V.G.

As is known, electric propulsion systems (EP) are space rocket thrusters in which electric energy is converted into kinetic energy of directed motion of charged particles. Owing to their high particle flow rates, EP make it possible to use the propellant stored in a spacecraft more economically and, as a result, to effectively solve a whole range of spacecraft motion control tasks. [1].

To deploy and maintain an orbital constellation of hundreds, and in the future, thousands of satellites, an alternative to xenon is needed, because xenon, which is the main propellant of modern EPs, is produced on a limited scale and is expensive. The usage of krypton as an alternative to xenon is promising due to its significantly lower cost and higher annual production volume.

At present, a number of countries are developing EPs on krypton, including those with powers up to 1 kW, which can be used in small satellite control systems.  The RIAME MAI has been conducting research on the possibility of creating effective EPs on Krypton for a long time [2]. One of the main problems appearing when SPT operates on krypton is insufficient efficiency of processing the flow of atoms into ions. Therefore, technical solutions have been developed to provide a competitive level of thruster performance on krypton: the choice of a scaled-down thruster and magnetic system that provides a large lifetime of the thruster. Using these solutions, RIAME MAI also develops SPT on krypton with power up to 1 kW and the results of this development are presented in the report.

Development of the called thruster is carried out with the financial support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation under the agreement № 075-15-2019-1686 from 26.11.2019 on providing grants from the federal budget in the form of subsidies (unique identification number RFMEFI60419X0212).


1.Arkhipov F.S., Kim V.P., Sidorenko E.K. "Stationary plasma thrusters of Morozov, Moscow, MAI, 2012, 291 p.

2. Grdlichko, D.P.,Zakharchenko V.S., Kalyazin V.G., Kim, V.P. Korkunov M.V., Lesnevskiy V.A., Merkuryev D.V., Parakhin G.A., Popov G.A., Shilov E.A. "Study of a possibility to develop a competitive stationary low-power plasma engine operating on the xenon and krypton" // Proceedings of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Power Engineering.№3, p.26-39, 2019.