Russia Test-Fires Satellite Thruster Powered by Krypton

 / Go to the mediabankThe launch of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Fregat upper stage and 36 OneWeb spacecraft on board from the launch pad of the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur Region. / Go to the mediabankInternationalIndiaAfricaMOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian rocket engine makers have tested an innovative type of satellite thruster powered by krypton, a noble gas that is up to 10 times cheaper than the standard xenon, Roscosmos said Friday. “Experimental design bureau Fakel … and Keldysh Research Center have for the first time [in Russia] tested a stationary plasma jet engine, SPT-70M, using krypton as a propellant,” the state space corporation said in a statement. Satellites use thrusters to move around once they are in orbit — to dodge space debris, change altitude and even de-orbit. Xenon has been the working gas of choice in most electric propulsion engines, where it is converted into a plasma jet to produce thrust. The downside of using xenon is its high cost and, as Fakel CEO Gennady Abramenkov said recently, the fact that it is in short supply. Roscosmos announced in December that it was looking for an alternative gas to power satellite engines as it seeks to develop communication and Earth remote sensing constellations by 2030 as part of the Sphere (Sfera) national project.


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